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Mentoring is the process by which those more experienced provide advice, support and knowledge to those less experienced. Researchers and teachers have found that having a mentor can lead to a variety of benefits such as higher levels of satisfaction with graduate school and career experiences and more productive careers (see e.g., Johnson & Huwe, 2003 for a review of the benefits of being mentored).

About the Committee

In 2004, AP-LS formed an ad hoc Mentorship Committee in an effort to reach out to psychologists in the early stages of their careers and to graduate students who plan to enter a career in psychology and law. The Mentorship Committee members are: Ryann Haw, Fadia Narchet, Sarah Manchak, Chriscelyn Tussey (Chair) and V. Anne Tubb.

The AP-LS Mentorship Committee provides for a variety of different mentoring experiences. More specifically, mentors are available to answer questions through this website and mentoring is also provided during AP-LS’s annual conferences

Website Mentoring

The AP-LS ad hoc Mentorship Committee has arranged for forensic and non-forensic mentors to be available to answer questions from graduate students or new faculty. In general, forensic mentors can discuss areas where clinical psychology has been applied to the legal system. Examples of topics in this area are risk assessment, competency, profiling, and psychological assessment. Non-forensic mentors specialize in topics in which areas such as social and cognitive psychology have been applied to the legal system. Examples of topics in this area are eyewitness evidence, jury decision-making, expert testimony, confessions and detecting deception. You can see who our mentors are and their specific interests by clicking on the link Meet the Mentors. Here you will find biographical information about each mentor including his/her area of specialty. You can use this information to determine which mentor may be best suited to respond to your question(s).   

Please check our FAQ’s page first before contacting a mentor. If you find that the FAQ page has not provided answers to your questions, then feel free to contact one of our mentors.

Conference Mentoring  

AP-LS 2010 ( Vancouver, Canada) — Mentorship Luncheon: A mentorship luncheon was held for the 2010 Vancouver  conference on Friday, March 19. The mentorship luncheon focused on mentors’ top five tips for being successful in a variety of areas. Attendees met with mentors and discussed the mentors’ top five tips for being successful. Each mentor discussed a separate area, including finding a non-academic job in government, finding a niche in psychology and law, conducting forensic evaluations, balancing academic and clinical work, and setting up a private practice, among others. Attendees met with each mentor for approximately 20 minutes, allowing them to meet with several mentors during the session.

AP-LS 2009 (San Antonio, Texas) — Mentorship Luncheon: A mentorship luncheon was held for the 2009 San Antonio conference on Saturday, March 7. The mentorship luncheon was part of a three part series with the Student Section and the Teaching, Training, and Careers (TTC) Committee focusing on job interviewing. The Student Section portion of the series consisted of a presentation on CVs and personal statements, while the TTC portion of the series consisted of a presentation on job search and hiring practices at academic institutions. The Mentorship Committee portion of the series consisted of an interactive session in which mentors posed questions to attendees that mimicked the type of questions likely to be heard during job interviews.

AP-LS 2008 (Jacksonville, Fla.) — Mentorship Breakfast: The mentorship breakfast for the 2008 Jacksonville conference was held on Friday, March 7. The mentor breakfast focused on developing good mentor/mentee relationships in graduate school. Edie Greene and Monica Miller served as our main speakers. Several other mentors spoke with students on choosing an advisor/mentor, being a good advisee, approaching and working with your advisor to develop ideas, cultivating your relationship with your advisor, using research if you are not an academic, and dealing with the rest of life while in school during roundtable discussions.

AP-LS 2006 (St. Petersburg, Fla.) — Mentorship Breakfast: The mentorship breakfast for the 2006 St. Petersburg conference was held on Saturday, March 4. Brian Cutler began the session with a presentation on the topic of publishing and reviewing. After the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to interact with the several mentors. We want to take this opportunity to thank all the mentors for providing their time and guidance! A special thanks to the Student Section for their help in advertising the event and the approximately 30 students who attended the breakfast.

AP-LS 2005 (La Jolla, Calif.) — A symposium entitled, “Advice for Graduate Students and Beginning Professionals,” jointly sponsored by the APLS Mentorship Committee and the APLS Careers and Training Committee took place on March 4, 2005. During the mentorship portion of this symposium, Wendy Heath (Chair of the Mentorship Committee) summarized the activities and the services the Committee offers (e.g., AP-LS website mentor page with links to mentors available to answer questions, the mentorship breakfast). Much of the last hour of the session was a question and answer session with mentors Dick Rogers, Rich Weiner, Gail Goodman, Beth Wiggins, and Matt Zaitchik who offered their perspectives on their chosen careers and offered advice. We are extremely grateful to the mentors who volunteered their time. The session was extremely well attended (standing room only with approximately 120 attendees).  

AP-LS 2005 (La Jolla, Calif.) — Mentorship Breakfast: The Mentorship breakfast occurred on March 5, 2005. Graduate students and beginning professionals interacted with mentors in small discussion groups over a light breakfast. The following mentors joined us for breakfast: Margaret Kovera, Mario Scalora, Norman Poythress, Larry Wrightsman, Matt Zaitchik, Gary Moran, Jack Brigham, Don Whitworth, and Bill Werkun. Again we are grateful to the mentors who shared their time. Twenty-eight protégés joined us for breakfast. We’re glad you could join us!  

We are currently in the planning stages to develop events for the 2011 International Conference for AP-LS, the European Association of Psychology and Law, and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law in Miami, Florida from March 1st to 6th, 2011, at the Miami Regency Hyatt.

If you attended any of the above events or have ideas for future events, please contact us with your comments, suggestions or feedback. Your comments will help us when planning future events and allow us the opportunity to best cater to the needs of our participants. You can email comments to Tara Mitchell. We thank you in advance for your feedback.


Johnson, W. B., & Huwe, J. M. (2003). Getting mentored in graduate school. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Meet the Mentors

Below you will find biographical information about each mentor including his/her area of specialty. You can use this information to determine which mentor may be best suited to respond to your question(s). Our mentors are divided into categories to facilitate finding the best mentor for your questions. We have mentors in the following areas: Forensic and Non-Forensic.

Please check our Mentorship FAQs page first before contacting a mentor. If you find that the FAQ page has not provided answers to your questions, then feel free to contact one of our mentors.

If you would like to become a mentor, or are interested in finding out more information about the Mentorship Committee, please contact Tara Mitchell.

Forensic Mentors

Norman Poythress

Dr. Poythress completed his undergraduate work at Indiana University in 1969 and his PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Texas in 1977.  From 1977 to 1990 he worked in clinical forensic practice, mainly conducting evaluations for criminal courts such as competence to stand trial and criminal responsibility; relatedly, he is coauthor with Melton, Petrila and Slobogin (1997) of Psychological Evaluations for the Courts: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Lawyers (2nd ed., Guilford Press).

He is currently a Professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida where he has been on faculty since 1990. His research interests have included the competency of mentally individuals to participate in the legal process,  procedural justice perceptions of alternative courtroom models for malpractice dispute resolution, and mental health courts.  His current research interests focus on the evaluation of self-report measures of psychopathy and investigations of subtypes of psychopathy.

Non-Forensic Mentors

Bette L. Bottoms

 Dr. Bette L. Bottoms received a bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia, a Master’s Degree in Cognitive Psychology from The University of Denver, and a PhD in Social Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her graduate training and her current research interests are broad (a mix of cognitive, developmental, social, and even a little community and clinical psychology), but her work then and now is unified by the theme of children, psychology, and law. Specifically, she studies the accuracy of children’s eyewitness testimony, techniques to improve children’s reports of past events, jurors’ perceptions of children’s testimony, and various issues related to child abuse. Dr. Bottoms is now a Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She’s very active in the American Psychological Association, especially Division 41 (AP-LS) and Division 37 (Child, Youth and Family Services), of which she’ll be President in 2005.

John C. (Jack) Brigham

Dr. Brigham did his undergraduate work at Duke University and received a PhD in Social-Personality Psychology in 1969 from the University of Colorado, where he worked primarily with Keith Davis and Stuart Cook. He took a job as an Assistant Professor in a brand-new Social Psychology program at Florida State University where, much to his surprise, he has remained ever since.  He officially retired from the university and became Professor Emeritus at the end of 2004, though he is still actively involved in research and consulting.   There weren’t any Psychology-Law PhD programs when he was in graduate school; he became interested in psycholegal issues through his interest in stereotypes and prejudice, and how these concepts might apply in an important real-world situation, the legal system.  His research interests have centered on the factors that affect the accuracy of eyewitness memory, especially in cross-race situations.  In addition to teaching and research, he has served as an expert witness.  He has also given workshops to groups of attorneys and groups of judges in an attempt to disseminate information in places where it may have the most applicability.  He considers his involvement in AP-LS as one of the most personally and professionally rewarding aspects of his career.  He served as Secretary-Treasurer, Treasurer, Council Representative and President of AP-LS over the years and thinks that AP-LS can be an invaluable source of information for those interested in Psychology-Law issues, particularly those who have not had the opportunity for much formal training in the area.

Annette Christy

Dr. Annette Christy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI), College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida. She received her PhD in 1998 from St. Louis University in Applied/Experimental Psychology, with an emphasis in social psychology. She was a National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors fellow in mental health services research at FMHI from 1998 to 2000. Dr. Christy's work is at the nexus of mental health services and criminal justice research.  She directs the Baker Act Reporting Center, which involves the receipt and analysis of statewide civil commitment data. This has led to work investigating emergency commitment as it relates to various issue and populations.  Her work has also included studies of specialty courts (Broward County Mental Health Court evaluation), coercion into outpatient care (MacArthur Network on Mandated Community Treatment study), as well as competence to proceed (report quality for children and adults, as well as the timing of movement of adults through various stages in the process).  Over the past several years she has developed an interest in research involving veterans.  This includes a study currently funded by The National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans to investigate how Veteran Justice Outreach specialists are structuring their work, as an evaluator for Florida's SAMHSA Funded Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery project, as well as writing and research focusing on how veterans courts are being implemented and about how specialty courts are addressing the needs of veterans with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Solomon Fulero

Dr. Solomon Fulero is both a practicing attorney and a psychologist.  Dr. Fulero received his PhD in social psychology and his law degree from the University of Oregon in August 1979 and December 1979 respectively, and a respecialization certificate in clinical psychology from Wright State University in June 1988.  He is Professor and former Chair of Psychology at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio and Clinical Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Wright State University in Dayton.  Dr. Fulero maintains private practices in both psychology and law, and is a frequent expert witness on matters pertaining to legal psychology, in both social/experimental (eyewitness testimony, interrogations and confessions, pretrial publicity, etc.) and clinical (competency, sanity, sexual predator status, competency to waive Miranda rights, etc.) areas. His work on mental retardation, suggestibility, and confessions was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia.   He is the co-author of the Wadsworth/Thomson textbook Forensic Psychology, Second Edition, published in July 2004, as well as numerous scholarly articles in both psychology journals and law reviews. Dr. Fulero is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.  He has been on the Executive Committee of the American Psychology-Law Society (APLS), was the APLS representative to the governing Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association in 1999-2002, was a member of the APA Committee on Legal Issues from 2000-2003 (chair in 2002-2003), and was President of APLS  in 2003-2004.

Gary Moran

Dr. Moran received his PhD in psychology at Catholic University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen-the Netherlands in 1964.  He is now retired from Florida International University where he was the jurywork/consulting member of his group in addition to taking more traditional scholarly pursuits. His current interests involve consulting with attorneys in private practice, public defenders, etc. who are interested in a rather narrow range of services such as pretrial surveys, changes of venue procedures, trial simulations. He is also currently a principal in Juritactics II, a Miami based litigation consulting firm.

Michael Saks

Dr. Michael Saks has a PhD in social psychology from Ohio State and an MSL from Yale Law School.  He has been a professor of psychology at Boston College, and a professor of law at the University of Iowa and currently at the Arizona State University. He has been president of AP-LS and editor of Law & Human Behavior.  He studies principal areas of the intersection of psychology and the law: 1) Decision-making in the legal process, especially decision-making by judges and juries, 2) The uses of scientific and other expert evidence in the law, and 3) The "behavior" of the litigation system, especially systems analysis of the tort litigation system and the evaluation of proposed reforms in light of data on the actual behavior of the system.

Lawrence Wrightsman

Dr. Wrightsman received his PhD in social psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1959.  He is now a Professor of Psychology at the University of Kansas. Around the mid-1970s, he, like a number of other social psychologists, shifted his research focus to legal issues.  His initial research was on judicial decision-making.  He also continued to write textbooks and scholarly books, but shifted from personality and social psychology to psychology and the law. His current research is on two topics: the psychology of entrapment and the psychology of decision making by the Supreme Court.


The American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS) Mentorship Committee has created this "FAQ" page in an effort to answer questions often asked by those who plan to enter a career in psychology and law and by those in the early stages of their psychology and law careers.  Graduate students and new professionals who do not find answers to their questions here may choose to e-mail one of the AP-LS mentors.Undergraduates with additional questions should feel free to contact the Chair of the Mentorship Committee, Tara Mitchell.  

Where can I find out about graduate programs in psychology and law?

AP-LS provides a guide to programs in psychology and law.

Students can also access a list of Graduate programs by accessing the Student section.  There is also a web site for the European Association of Psychology and Law's Student Society.

Where can I find out about internships in psychology and law?

The Student Committee has developed a predoctoral internship resource guide to assist students interested in forensic internship search for relevant internship sites.

How useful is a law degree for someone wanting a career in psychology and law?

There are varying opinions regarding this question in the field. For example, as a psychologist with a job that includes regular contact with the court system (i.e., expert testimony) it is important to understand the legal issues that are involved in each case. However this does not mean that a law degree is necessary to carry out these duties. Certainly, if a psychologist wishes to engage in law related practices then it is incumbent upon that individual to somehow obtain an understanding of the law, which can be accomplished by attending a doctoral program with a specialized focus, reading some of the many well written texts on psychology and law and seeking continuing education in law related material. On another note some argue that having a dual degree may make someone more marketable, but it should be kept in mind that many of the accomplished forensic psychologists do not have a dual degree. In a nutshell it may help and certainly won't hurt, but it may not be necessary

Where can I find out about careers in psychology and law?

The AP-LS website includes information about a variety of different careers in psychology and law. For details download the document "Careers in Psychology and Law: A Guide for Prospective Students" (PDF, 250KB) that has been prepared by the AP-LS Careers and Training Committee. Included in this comprehensive document is an overview of psychology and law as well as a list of subspecialties in psychology and law (including typical activities within each subspecialty and the education and training required for each subspecialty). A wonderful selection of biographies of selected professionals is also available in this document.  Note that the multiple sections included in the "Careers" document is also available to be read online (i.e., not downloaded) with the biographies available as a separate PDF file.

How can I locate job openings in psychology and law? 

The main sources of openings in psychology and law (and psychology in general) are the job listings maintained by AP-LS, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. Job opportunities in psychology and law are also occasionally listed in the AP-LS newsletter, the PSYLAW-L email discussion list (information on joining this list) and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Also note that that some psychology conferences (e.g., American Psychological Association, Eastern Psychological Association, Midwestern Psychological Association) conduct placement activities (e.g., job applicants can submit their curricula vitae for perusal of those seeking applicants; employers can interview applicants for open positions). 

Finally, there are a variety of websites that list non-psychology opportunities that may be of interest to those with training in psychology and law.  A sample of these websites follow:

What should I expect on a job interview for a tenure track position at a college or university?

Different types of institutions (e.g., institutions with PhD programs versus undergraduate institutions) will potentially look for different things in prospective faculty members, thus the "fit" between institution and prospective faculty member is important to consider. The information below is intended to be general, relevant to almost all college/university positions.

Make sure that you become familiar with the college or university you are visiting. Visit the institution's website — familiarize yourself with the names and research interests of the faculty members.  Prepare some questions ahead of time to ask of your interviewers.

Most prospective college or university employers will want to learn about your research. This often comes in the form of a "job talk," a presentation that allows you to describe your research in detail.  It is important that you establish ahead of time how much time to allow for your presentation (leave time for questions too!).  Also establish ahead of time who your audience will be.  A talk addressed to students will potentially be different in content than a talk addressed solely to faculty members.  Make sure your talk is clear (visual aides are typically a good idea!) and well organized.  (Some general presentation tips can be found in the article on conference presentations available in the summer 2005 AP-LS newsletter (PDF, 280KB). Your interviewers may also want evidence that your work is programmatic (i.e., do you have a research plan that will carry you into the future?), and is your own (i.e., not just your mentor's work). 

Institutions are also typically interested in your teaching ability. Some institutions may ask you to prepare a class and "teach" it during your visit (the "students" may be other faculty members).  Again, be clear and concise, using visual aides when appropriate. Having teaching experience certainly can be an advantage; come prepared with copies of your sample syllabi, handouts, etc. to provide as illustrations of your teaching. 

I've been offered an adjunct appointment. Should I take it or will it damage my chances for obtaining a tenure track position?

Approximately 3 out of every 10 college and university faculty worked as an adjunct faculty member (i.e., part-time) in 2002 (The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-2005). These adjunct appointments can be "stepping stones" to more permanent positions (often at other institutions), as they give you experience teaching (this is especially worthwhile if you did not obtain teaching experience during graduate school). Adjunct instructors may also be given opportunities to participate in the activities of the department. If you are interested in pursuing full-time work in academia, be sure to take advantage, as best you can, of these opportunities, as they can later be provided as evidence of your willingness to be a good department citizen.  

What types of non-academic jobs are there for legal psychologists and how do you get them?

There are several areas of non-academic work for those interested in a career in psychology and law. Clinical psychologists can perform assessments for the criminal and family courts, and/or conduct treatment or provide assessment with forensic populations (e.g., working with the incarcerated mentally ill in correctional institutions).

Non-forensic also have a variety of opportunities available to them.  For example, they can obtain employment with trial consulting firms that conduct jury consulting services in criminal and civil litigation. Trial consultants work with attorneys on a variety of tasks (e.g., evaluating jurors, phrasing case arguments, working on visuals for the jury, preparing the witnesses for questions).

Other possibilities include working as a researcher with the Federal Court system. Researchers in this type of position are responsible for planning and conducting research on issues relevant to the courts (e.g., judge decision-making, instruction wording). There is also the possibility of conducting policy research for other state agencies.

How can I decide whether to go into academia or not with my clinical degree?

Whether or not you go into academia or not depends on your interests (i.e., do you want to do mostly clinical work or teaching and research) and opportunities. There are ways to combine these interests, however. Positions at medical schools, for example, often include a faculty appointment with opportunities for supervising, teaching and publishing. Many clinical/forensic psychologists' first jobs are clinical in nature. This does not preclude one from remaining competitive for academic jobs in the future. Some advice for a clinician who has an eye toward academia:

  • Publish as much as possible. Work with colleagues on empirical studies, grants, and theoretical papers.
  • Make presentations at national conferences such as APA and AP-LS.
  • Teach undergraduate or graduate level courses (i.e., part-time) at a local college or university.

How much does one beginning their professional career in psychology and law typically get paid?

Salaries for psychologists will vary widely according to the setting and type of work. Generally, those with a doctoral degree will make more than those with a masters degree. See the section on "Salaries and Compensation" in the "Overview of Psychology and Law" document available online for more specific information. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is typically a good, up-to-date source for this type of information (search the Occupational Outlook Handbook at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website) using the desired occupation (e.g., "psychologist," "professor") as a search term).

If you are pursuing an academic position, The Chronicle of Higher Education has salary information for most academic institutions (also check out the following website to figure out if you can live on what you are being offered.

How can I find out about grant opportunities in psychology and law? 

Pages on the AP-LS website list some funding opportunities for both graduate students and professionals, including grants offered by AP-LS. Also see The National Science Foundation for information on grants for "Law and Social Sciences."  

Now that I'm a new faculty member, I am expected to provide service to my profession. How can I do this? 

The following are some possible ideas for ways to provide service to the profession of psychology and law.  You can review conference submissions, review journal articles, serve on a journal's editorial board, serve on your association's (e.g., AP-LS!) committees, and/or run for an office in your association.  While these activities can certainly be rewarding, be sure not to overextend yourself in service to the degree that you neglect your other obligations.  Familiarize yourself with the particular demands of your institution.

How can I get involved in AP-LS? 

There are a variety of AP-LS Committees and some have both student and professional members. Descriptions of each committee are available online. If you are interested in joining a particular committee, write to the committee chair to express your interest and determine if any openings are available. 

How can I find opportunities to review conference submissions?

Each time the chair(s) of a conference issue(s) a "call for papers" they typically issue a request for reviewers of proposal submissions.  This is one way to serve your profession.  If you cannot locate the "request for reviewers" on the "call for papers" website, contact a conference chairperson to ask about reviewing possibilities.

How can I find opportunities to review journal articles?

As a student, you may be able to find opportunities to review journal articles through your advisor. This can be a stepping stone, improving your chances to later serve as a reviewer for a journal.

How do you build a forensic practice (e.g., how do you obtain clients)?

Here are some tips:

  • First, you should be a really well-trained psychologist.  Make sure you learn about a wide range of things in psychology, even things you disagree with.  (You will be asked to defend your opinions with data.)
  • Second, arrange to get supervised forensic experience, preferably in a forensic fellowship.  If not, find a very experienced and well-respected forensic psychologist to supervise you carefully (this will usually cost you money).
  • Third, write articles in professional journals, especially about the kinds of cases you would like to attract to your new practice.
  • Fourth, be pretty good at everything in forensic psychology, but try to be really, really good at some particular thing.  It will help to get you known.
  • Fifth, give away advice and consultation to other psychologists every chance you get. (Make sure the advice is asked for.)  Only do so, however, in areas that you know really well.
  • Sixth, be available to speak for free to your local bar association.

Seventh, get in the habit of turning down cases that are not within your field of expertise.  Make sure that you tell them why you are turning them down, and what your field of expertise is.  Say to people something like, "You deserve to get the best expert there is.  In this case, I could do an OK job, but to be honest with you, Dr. X is much stronger on this issue.  Now if he can't help you or you get a case dealing with (my issue) or (my other issue), then give me a call back."  This will keep you from ruining your young career by botching up a case you never should have taken, and clearly announce you in the legal community as a person with ethics and high standards of excellence.  The attorney in question will look for a case to use you on, and the forensic psychologist you complimented with the referral will probably be very grateful.

Eighth, most importantly of all, do every case well, as if it were your dissertation.  Work harder than they pay you to work.  Leave no stone unturned.  Don't take shortcuts.  If your initial opinion doesn't help the side that hired you, tell them before you use up lots of their money.  Even though being ethical costs you money in the short run, it will make you lots of money over the course of decades.

What does it mean to be a board certified forensic psychologist by the ABFP (American Board of Forensic Psychology)? How does a psychologist become board certified?

For a complete answer to questions about ABFP certification, go to their website. The rationale for Board certification in psychology is to ensure the competence of diploma holders. Although there are other organizations that offer "Diplomates" or "board certification" they do not require the rigorous standards required by the ABFP. Consequently, they are not as highly regarded or as useful in clinical practice. (Lawyers and judges are becoming increasingly educated to the differences and may be skeptical of clinicians with these ersatz diplomas.) The ABFP Diplomate process involves four parts:

  • Submission of proof of sufficient specialized experience and training in Forensic Psychology. Specifically a candidate must have 1000 hours of post-doctoral forensic experience over a minimum of four post-doctoral years (although there are waivers for post-doctoral programs, law degrees, etc.) and a minimum of 100 hours of specialized training.
  • Written examination – 200 multiple choice questions covering 8 areas of forensic psychology.
  • Two Work samples
  • Oral examination

The ABFP Diplomate (like all American Board of Professional Psychology Diplomates) is extremely useful if one is looking to move to another state. In most jurisdictions, it allows for reciprocity of licensure.

How likely is a graduate student to get a job in forensic work if they do not have specific focus on this area in graduate school? Is outside experience sufficient, and if so, how much is necessary? 

Getting a forensic job without specific graduate school training appears to be getting more difficult. There are ways to increase one's chances.  Obviously, getting forensic experience and training in a pre-doc internship is one way to do so. There are more and more APA-accredited internships with at least a forensic component. Completing one of these internships can lead to a post-doctoral fellowship. Even if one does not have pre-doctoral forensic experience, however, there are ways to pursue forensic experience and training. Some states (for example, Massachusetts) offer post-doctoral training, experience, and certification to clinical psychologists who work in the public sector.  Another thing you can try to do is to obtain relevant experience with similar populations.  For example, if you want to obtain employment in a correctional/forensic treatment or assessment setting, you might seek to work in psychiatric hospital with patients who have serious mental illness.

As for how much experience is necessary, the more you get the better off you will be.  

What are the various job titles that forensic psychologists can hold? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these different positions (i.e., working at a jail/prison, juvenile detention center, private practice, expert witness, etc.)?

Forensic psychology is a broad field encompassing many clinical and research areas. For example, you may conduct criminal evaluations (competency, criminal responsibility, etc.), forensic treatment program evaluations, civil (disability) evaluations, and/or court clinic evaluations. You may become an administrator in a forensic inpatient unit.  You may evaluate sexually dangerous individuals or provide treatment to psychiatric inpatients. Clinical opportunities can be broken down into two broad categories: treatment and assessment. The "strengths and weaknesses" of each will, of course, depend upon what one enjoys doing. It may depend on how much one wants to provide therapy, how much one would rather work in a consulting role, how much one enjoys assessing criminals, how much one relishes testifying in court, etc.  One way to find out what you will enjoy doing is to garner as much different kind of experience as possible. Internships and post-docs can be a good way of doing so.

Date created: 2013