At a minimum, you can rule out PhD in English. Even with full tuition + stipend, which any respectable program will provide, that's a significantly worse option than what you have now. It will take up to three times as long as a JD for a 25% shot at a decent outcome (TT gig in the middle of nowhere). Honestly, sometimes I think T14 --> clerkship --> biglaw --> academic fellowship is a better and safer career trajectory into academia than a humanities PhD program
. If you haven't seen it yet, check out http://chronicle.com/article/Graduate-S ... -the/44846
eta: Oh I see you're not seriously considering this. I'll leave this up for people visiting from the future.
As long as we are collecting information for the future, I want to say that the academic track into law seems to be not that safe. One problem is that once you leave a firm for academics, if you don't get a full time job in academics, you will have a hard time getting a job at a firm. You will be senior, without clients and have shown you don't want to practice law. With the impact of people getting smarter about not going ( the subject of this post) the jobs in academics are drying up.
Check out the faculty lounge blog:
Much as it may annoy a few people here:-
Schools offering VAPs are somewhat close to "trap schools" like American University offering incentives to get 1Ls in seats. Like it or not layoffs are coming - and junior professors (even tenured) will under most tenure rules take the brunt of the layoffs. Most VAPs have the credentials to survive as lawyers (more or less) and while they may not be enamoured of the possibility of actual practice, it is better than unemployment (Uh no. is right.)
Indeed, it may well be that after the shakeout and layoffs that are imminent law schools will want to see a level of practice experience on a tenure candidate's resumé than is currently considered excessive. Certainly many in the profession are pushing for 5+ and even 10+ actual practice experience to be the norm for faculties.
The typical VAP is someone who can go back to practice if things don't pan out."
Really? You think firms would be eager to hire someone who is probably a minimum of five years out of law school (clerkship plus two years practice plus two years VAP) but who likely has only very junior-level practice experience? Oh, and throw in that it's obvious that the only reason that the person is looking for a job is that s/he totally failed in an attempt to get a job in his/her preferred field (teaching) -- AND the person is probably a flight risk if the law school hiring market ever rebounds?
My guess is that firms won't want to touch failed VAPs with a ten foot pole. They'll either be able to beg and plead for the firm that they left to do a VAP to take them back, or they won't be able to practice law. Maybe the VAPs who had more substantial experience -- as in, 5+ years -- might have some success. Maybe.
I say this as someone in a similar-but-slightly-better situation. I'm not VAPing/fellowing, but I'm also doing a term-limited job. On the plus side, it's much less obvious that I am a failed academic job-seeker (for a couple of plausible reasons), and I have a good bit of meaningful practice experience. And still, a couple of recruiters have said something to the effect of "top 5 law school, federal clerkship, several years of impressive practice experience -- well, I might be able to get you a staff attorney job at a firm."
http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/02 ... -trap.html
"I'm just hoping that, as Orin implies in his point (d), because I'm a relatively well-credentialed young[ish] lawyer (thought not a Supreme Court clerk by a long shot!), I'll be able to land on my feet."
Not to be debbie downer, but I'd urge you (and me, and anyone else in our boat) not to feel too overconfident that a sterling resume is going to make it easy to move back to practice. My resume is probably pretty standard academic job market fare -- good grades from a top school, clerkship, several years at an elite firm, several years doing interesting public sphere litigation, including a few cases that got national exposure (and lots of stuff that got regional exposure), lots of publications. When I realized that I probably need to go back to practice a few months ago, I sent it to a couple of recruiters that I know in my home market (a head hunter type and a firm recruiter) to gage what I should expect. Here's what they said:
Head hunter: You're too senior for firms to want you as a new associate, and you don't have any business to come in as a partner. You've also been away from private practice long enough for it to be a problem. Firms are going to think you won't be willing to bill 2200 hours again. They're also going to think that you'll get bored doing "normal" cases. Oh, and they're going to be concerned that you won't work well with partners who don't have your academic or professional credentials. I hate to break it to you, but if you have to stay in this market, you might need to start looking at staff attorney jobs. Maybe even non-doc review contract work.
Firm recruiter: Wow! That's the most impressive resume that I've seen in quite a while. You literally have everything that we say we want when we hire lateral associates or counsel. Just wow. But we totally wouldn't be interested. We hire midlevel associates with 4-5 years of experience. We take in partners with a book of business. We don't hire people that sort of fall in the middle of those two. You might see if some of the firms around town that have had higher-than-expected turnover over the past few years need any bodies.
OP: sorry if I'm derailing here. Maybe I'm defensive because one of my best friends is getting a PhD in English with full stipend and she is very happy. Much happier than most law students. No idea how the job front will work out for her, but she has no debt and no living expenses now.