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Competition is fierce in Philadelphia when it comes to jobs, and a degree in any field will give you an edge up on the competition, says Michael H. Fienman, a criminal justice lawyer in Philadelphia. Fienman shares with us how important education is in the field of criminal justice, whether you are a police officer, detective, custom agent or criminal lawyer.

(Photo Courtesy of Michael H. Fienman)

(Photo Courtesy of Michael H. Fienman)

What sort of education is needed to secure a good job in your field?

“To practice law in Pennsylvania, one must graduate from an accredited law school and obtain a license by passing the bar exam. In order to be accepted into law school, among other requirements, a bachelor’s degree is required. A common education path for aspiring attorneys, police officers, detectives, security or customs agents and others is a degree in Criminal Justice. The legal job market in Philadelphia is very competitive so, naturally, the best and brightest students fill the most desirable positions.”

Can you describe your duties at your current job?

“I am responsible for defending the constitutional rights of individuals accused of crimes and other violations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A big part of my job is meeting with clients, police officers, prosecutors and judges to discuss various laws and how they apply to the specific facts of my client’s case.”

After graduation, how hard was it to transition to the actual working world?

“For me, the transition to the working world was not difficult because I was exposed to practicing law when I clerked during law school. It took some time, however, to gain skills and confidence needed to be the most effective advocate and resource for my clients.”

What are some advanced courses that would be beneficial for this type of career?

“Taking courses on trial advocacy and law school clerkships are certainly beneficial, but firsthand courtroom experience will set applicants apart when competing for the most competitive jobs.”

Christina Thompson is a freelance travel writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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