Careers in Criminal Justice: Future Supreme Court Justice?

We start out on our college careers largely unknowing where we will end up in the long run.  Some of us will go on to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, or other popular career fields.  However, a very few of us will earn the title of “judge”, and even fewer of us will earn the respectability to be considered a Supreme Court Justice.  For many criminal justice students, the Supreme Court seems a far stretch from their classes on criminal conduct, but it is the first step in the right direction. 

Careers in criminal justice take on a variety of possibilities.  Students can go into law enforcement, law itself, legislature, policy, etc.  For those who want to explore the law, they have a rough road ahead of them (not to discourage anybody).  However, after undergrad, you must continue on into law school, and then work your way up through the criminal justice system.  Most judges were once prosecutors and defense attorneys, nearly 100% of criminal justice judges were one day where you once were. 

The only way to understand the criminal justice process is for you yourself to become fully engrained in it; this only happens by years of focusing on the nitty-gritty work that comes with criminal law.  Criminals are not always innocent, and many of the crimes they commit are gruesome to think about, but need to be dealt with.  Many judges have seen both sides of the spectrum, having worked for both state prosecutors and private defense attorneys.  This helps them understand multiple sides of an issue, which produces a great future career as a judge. 

After several years as a judge, you have the opportunity to really make yourself known as a genre of judge.  This helps set you apart from the rest and can set you up for a future career with your state supreme or appellate court or even move on to federal court.  Once you are this level, you are on more of a national radar when larger cases come your way.   We always hear about judicial decisions from lower state courts or federal courts that may not make a difference to the whole of our nation, but are controversial in themselves.

Furthermore, by the time you reach this point in your judicial career, you will have made many influential friends and colleagues; these alone can help you earn your way into the Supreme Court itself.  While very few judges make it onto the Supreme Court (as is obvious with their life terms), the selection process is spreading out now so that Congress and the President are no longer as selective with their choices and any budding law student may have a chance to be a great Supreme Court Justice.