What does a lawyer do with a master’s degree in general psychology? Pursue a career in civil rights law.

What does a lawyer do with a master’s degree in general psychology? This is not the first line of a lawyer joke. In fact, it’s the setup for one young Derner alum’s already notable career as a civil rights lawyer.

When Cory Morris ’08, M.A. ’10, graduated from Adelphi with a bachelor of science in criminal justice, he knew a career focused on social justice was in his future. Law school seemed the obvious next step. But Morris saw another path. He’d make it to law school eventually, but first he wanted to earn a master’s degree in general psychology.

He cites one clear reason: “I applied because of a footnote in a famous Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education.” In that landmark case ending school segregation, the court’s opinion cited the research of social psychologists Kenneth Clark, Ph.D., and Mamie Clark related to children and racial perception in support of its ruling.

“I saw the impact psychology could have in the law and, I thought, how could I not explore this avenue first?” Morris said.

Once he’d earned his M.A. in General Psychology in 2010, Morris enrolled in law school. After graduation he interned at both the Federal Defenders of New York Eastern District and the New York Civil Liberties Union, and his background in psychology came into play right away.

“I was able to use what I learned in a very real way,” Morris said. “I was able to use psychological data to built statistical charts, to analyze risk and say to a judge, ‘Wouldn’t it be better for this person to get services rather than pay for incarceration?’”

In 2014, Morris established his own law firm, focusing on social justice issues, and he’s already won honors, including Touro Law Center’s Public Interest Lawyer and Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year for 2016 and a Long Island Business News 40 Under 40 award.

Of his master’s degree in general psychology, Morris says, “It was one of the best decisions I ever made. [At the Derner Institute], we do work that has social impact and has meaning. We’re not just doing this for grants. It’s not just on paper. It’s a social commitment and a commitment to justice.”

For further information, please contact:

Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology
p – 516.877.4800

Phone Number
More Info
Levermore Hall, 205
Search Menu