Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

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trixareforkids
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Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby trixareforkids » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:40 pm

Hey Everyone,

I'm in the process of making a decision between applying to law school or to Masters of Public Policy / Public Administration programs. Ultimately, I want to end up in the public policy sector working for local, state, or national elected officials / agencies. I'm most interested in crafting new policy.

I've been told that a JD is a versatile degree that opens doors. While that may be true, I'm concerned with my ability to pursue a career in public policy after I rack up 200k in debt from law school loans. I have no interest whatsoever in corporate or big law -- I don't look down on the career, it's a great field, it's just not for me.

Context is important so I'll tell you a little about myself and my network (since that's important in politics). I currently work as a policy analyst for a local elected official. I work on a wide range of policy issues, write a lot of speeches, and work on campaigns. This is the type of work I'd like to return to. Before that I interned at the White House and the Senate. My network locally is growing well.

Anyways, I was hoping you all could help shed some light on whether I should go to law school or not.

Thanks! I appreciate it.

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DubPoker
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby DubPoker » Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:46 pm

There is a public interest law guide http://www.ejwguide.com/

I mean 200k debt is what you are trying to avoid. What is you GPA? have you ever taken a LSAT PT? or better, do you have an LSAT score? There are great cheaper ways to go through Law School.

Some schools even offer loan forgiveness programs if you work in public interest.

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TTH
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby TTH » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:37 pm

trixareforkids wrote:Context is important so I'll tell you a little about myself and my network (since that's important in politics). I currently work as a policy analyst for a local elected official. I work on a wide range of policy issues, write a lot of speeches, and work on campaigns. This is the type of work I'd like to return to. Before that I interned at the White House and the Senate. My network locally is growing well.



If you're already doing the kind of work you want to do, why do you feel the need to get more education? I know lots of legislative assistants and political operatives that only have Bachelors Degrees. I can't think of a good reason to take yourself out of the workforce for two to three years and start racking up more educational debt if you're already working in the field you want.

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nealric
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby nealric » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:19 pm

It doesn't sound like law school really right for you unless you can go for free.

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tea_drinker
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby tea_drinker » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:48 pm

TTH wrote:
trixareforkids wrote:Context is important so I'll tell you a little about myself and my network (since that's important in politics). I currently work as a policy analyst for a local elected official. I work on a wide range of policy issues, write a lot of speeches, and work on campaigns. This is the type of work I'd like to return to. Before that I interned at the White House and the Senate. My network locally is growing well.



If you're already doing the kind of work you want to do, why do you feel the need to get more education? I know lots of legislative assistants and political operatives that only have Bachelors Degrees. I can't think of a good reason to take yourself out of the workforce for two to three years and start racking up more educational debt if you're already working in the field you want.


This. Many members of Congress do not have an advance degree, so don't give up what you are already doing now for law school unless you really want it.

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Knock
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby Knock » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:51 pm

If you don't want to be a lawyer, absolutely do not go to law school. Contrary to what many believe, a JD is NOT a versatile degree. It pigeonholes you as a lawyer.

jeremysen
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby jeremysen » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:53 pm

Knock wrote:If you don't want to be a lawyer, absolutely do not go to law school. Contrary to what many believe, a JD is NOT a versatile degree. It pigeonholes you as a lawyer.


+1 CR

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T6Hopeful
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby T6Hopeful » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:03 am

nealric wrote:It doesn't sound like law school really right for you unless you can go for free.

This. I would say wait until whatever you decide to do really requires or strongly recommends a J.D.

For what it's worth, I will say that I had a teacher for a public policy class, who got her M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government. She loves what she does, but mentioned (and frustratingly) that anybody in her fields (I believe she was working indirectly for the governor at the time, but referenced the public policy sphere in general) with a J.D. does the same job as she does, but gets paid considerably more just for the different degree. Now, that's also assuming that neither the M.P.P. or J.D. have crushing loans, or can get those jobs in the first place.

r6_philly
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby r6_philly » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:39 am

I think MPP or MPA may be more practical if you can get into a top program. You can usually do the degree for $30-40 + COL sticker. Usually you are offered some grants and you do some work study. MPP and MPA programs also put you in contact with the people in the politics and policy games more than law school would by default. This semester we are taking a mandatory class trip to DC to interview congressional staffers and network with alums. We just got the interview assignments this week and I can tell you every person on that list has at least the influence to hire people. There are also optional opportunities to participate in many other events at the local/state level. We also have internship at state capitol and in DC that can help you land a job after graduation. Kennedy/Wilson/other top programs will do the same and more.

MPP/MPA will help you get state/local gov jobs. But know that there are not a lot of policy jobs out there. Most of the gov is involved in implementation, not formation. I looked at congressional offices, only legislative counsels are JD required. MPP/MPA would be enough to be a legislative director or aid. JD will probably help but not necessary.

So if you don't want to practice law at all, I would think twice even if the JD is free. You will be taking a bunch of classes you don't need. You will probably spend your electives taking policy classes - same classes that you will be taking in a MPP/MPA program. And if you choose a JD with $$, the school probably doesn't have a good MPP/MPA program. (Maxwell an exception) Also you will be in school for 1 and half more years.

It's easier to get into top MPP/MPA programs than JD programs. So if you want make policy over practicing law, don't go to LS.

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Veyron
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby Veyron » Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:44 am

trixareforkids wrote:Hey Everyone,

I've been told that a JD is a versatile degree that opens doors dirty dirty lies.



Hey silly rabbit, LAW SCHOOL IS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE LAWYERS.

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fatduck
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby fatduck » Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:46 am

Veyron wrote:
trixareforkids wrote:Hey Everyone,

I've been told that a JD is a versatile degree that opens doors dirty dirty lies.



Hey silly rabbit, LAW SCHOOL IS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE LAWYERS UNEMPLOYED

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Veyron
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Re: Should I Go To Law School? Public Policy Interest

Postby Veyron » Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:48 am

fatduck wrote:
Veyron wrote:
trixareforkids wrote:Hey Everyone,

I've been told that a JD is a versatile degree that opens doors dirty dirty lies.



Hey silly rabbit, LAW SCHOOL IS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE LAWYERS UNEMPLOYED


This also.




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