JD + PhD Program Question

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freakazo1d
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Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:35 pm

JD + PhD Program Question

Postby freakazo1d » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:05 pm

Hey Everyone,

I'm thoroughly confused by the different options regarding the path to becoming a law professor. I took my LSATs and did well. I am looking to attend a top 5 school. Down the line I strongly want to consider becoming a law professor. I am not set on it 100%, but its definitely an option I want to keep wide open. I want to practice for a few years, and am not averse to stay practicing if I enjoy it. I don't think its a good idea to go in saying I'm going to become a law professor or senior partner, or whatever it may be. I want to keep my options open and see how I like the work as I go along. I think that's the best thing I can do.

The pathways as I see them:

1. Get JD (from a top school), while getting on law review, clerk for a year, work in Big Law for 2-3 years, publish throughout the process, and apply to be a law professor

Total Years: 3 + 1 + 2-3 = 6-7 years
Is that right?

Pros:
Get JD then see how the application to be a professor goes
BigLaw salary for 2-3 years

Cons:
PhD seems almost necessary nowadays?
It makes absolutely no sense to me, to go back to school and get your PhD at this point if you don't land a law professorship, am I being too sensitive or am I being sensible with this? As a result it doesn't seem like the best way to position yourself, or is this too strong of an assumption?

2. Apply for a JD/PhD Program, do the same, get on law review, publish, clerk?, then go straight into professorship I'd assume without the BigLaw experience.

Supposedly 5-6 years for JD/PhD + 1 clerk = 6-7 years again

Pros:
This has potential for funding for JD/PhD too which is great- little/no debt
Get two degrees
Supposedly better positioning to get a professorship

Cons:
No BigLaw experience
Putting all your eggs in one basket? What happens if after all this you don't land a professorship? Is BigLaw still open?

3. Get PhD (5-6 years), then get your JD, and publish throughout, with law review, clerkship, etc. (or vice versa, but see option 1 ending)

Working at BigLaw on this track doesn't seem to make so much sense.

Time: 9-10 years

Pros:
Better positioning for a professorship (similar to 2)

Cons:
No BigLaw experience
A huge amount of time
Law school Debt
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Again I want to position myself in the best way possible if I do decide to pursue the law professor pathway. Option 1 from my understanding is the older more original pathway, but it seems to be less applicable today (b/c no PhD). But Option 2 also draws a lot of criticism in that its too specific, student interests may change, and you probably won't get any actual law firm experience.

I'm really undecided between Option 1 & 2. Option 3 seems like a total waste of time and completely and unnecessarily torturous.

Any and all advice from seasoned TLS Experts would be appreciated.

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twenty
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Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby twenty » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:13 pm

Sort of in tandem with "good luck, follow your dreams" and I don't mean that to sound as sarcastic as it does - but considering you haven't started law school yet, what makes you so sure you want to be a law school professor? It's like deciding your dream job is being a calculus professor without ever having taken calculus.

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RZ5646
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Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby RZ5646 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:32 pm

Becoming a tenured professor of any kind is nearly impossible nowadays, let alone in law where applications are dropping fast. I wouldn't stake my future on becoming a law professor.

Also, from what I recall when I looked into this, the PhD admissions process is way different from the JD process (and being accepted to the law school won't help you... it's completely separate). For law school you basically show them your GPA and LSAT and you get in or you don't. You might have to pass some interviews to show you're a normal person who can speak to other humans, but that's about it. For grad school on the other hand, you need great writing samples, significant research experience, fantastic LoRs, a plan of study that matches the school and faculty's own research interests, etc., and even then you'll be one of many qualified applicants, only one or two of whom can be selected. For most people, getting into a PhD program at HYSCC is probably a degree of magnitude harder than getting into their law schools.

freakazo1d
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Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:35 pm

Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby freakazo1d » Mon Dec 22, 2014 5:40 pm

@twenty: well you're right, and that's a great point. I've sat in on law school classes and spoken to professors at Columbia and I really feel like teaching is something I would thoroughly enjoy. Again, I'm not 100% and if I'm happy working in BigLaw I would definitely stick to it, but I just want to position myself in a way that keeps the door open. To be straight forward, if I did pursue my PhD, it would be in a very specific field. I'd want to get it in Education Policy or something related, ideally on the East Coast, so I'm really only looking at Columbia (Teacher's College) and Harvard.

@ RZ5646 Another great point, I definitely did not consider that. I guess the best thing to do would be to go for Law School and apply to the two grad programs I'm specifically interested in and see what happens.

I just wanted to see tho if its completely absurd to go for the joint degree, as opposed to just going straight for the JD and applying.

Overall though you guys make some great points! I think the best thing to do would be to apply to the JD programs and then consider the PhD while in law school.

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banjo
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Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby banjo » Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:18 am

I think option # 2 is pretty risky. You'll probably spend a few years writing your dissertation after finishing the J.D. portion of the degree. What happens if you strike out on the academic job market at that point? You'll be completely off the big law hiring timeline. Maybe you can apply to clerkships or mass mail, but I'm not sure how employers would view an applicant who graduated law school years ago and never practiced. You might be seen as a flight risk or unwilling to grind through mundane work.

Option # 1 keeps your other options open, but you may want/need to do an academic fellowship after your stint in big law. Again, what happens if you strike out after your fellowship? Can you just return to big law? Do another clerkship? Just not sure what your career looks like at that point, and I would find that pretty troubling.

Option # 3 only makes sense if your research in your primary field ends up intersecting with law in some way. It's good if you're pretty undecided on the whole law school thing.

There are of course other problems with all of these plans. You might not do as well as you hope in law school. The academic market could shrink further. Your SO might need to be in a particular geographic location.

If I had to pick, I'd go with option # 1, but feel free to PM me -- have some experience in this area.

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mpc347
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Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby mpc347 » Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:48 am

Option 2 is probably the best option if you can get into both a top 6 law school and a top 6 or so PhD program at the same school that happens to have JD/PhD funding. For political science, for instance, that would leave you with Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia (HYSCCNxCHYMPS, with Y not giving JD/PhD funding). This would give you a great shot at teaching in both the legal field and the cognate field depending on where your publishing venues are. You wouldn't need the clerkship, probably, and you could still "do Biglaw" for the summers at least or else take time off from the PhD at ABD stage.

But admissions-wise, you're looking at ~10% chance for the law school part and ~5% chance for the PhD part, so good luck getting into both.

If you are so concerned with "not leaving any doors closed" in terms of practicing and with minimizing the amount of time to finishing both degrees, why don't you consider just doing the JD first, clerking/practicing for a while after, and then doing a JSD after?

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crazycanuck
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Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby crazycanuck » Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:18 pm

Do not get a PhD under any circumstance. Lib art PhDs are generally quite useless if you don't get academia, and as mentioned above it's getting harder and harder to get academia that actually pays a living wage. Tenure no longer makes sense and adjunct is becoming more popular. I also think the education industry is going to see se huge disruptions over the next couple of decades from tech that is being built to address the unsustainable and ridiculous increases in tuition.

A friend of mine who is teaching at a local law school posted this on his Facebook a few days ago.

http://lawschooltuitionbubble.wordpress ... 4-edition/

Law school faculty has declined 8% over the last year and has been dropping since 2010. Really only Columbia has increased faculty size.

If you spend years on a silly PhD and dont get academia, it will be very tough to find a job. I know a Fulbright Harvard PhD who washed out of academia and no one wants to hire him. We had some Stanford pHd apply for an office assistant job at my company. We did not interview. Being a full time adjunct just to teach because it's fun isn't really a viable career path either. I teach courses at a local business school every now and then, one of the best in canada, and I get paid around 2.5k per course per semester and adjuncts aren't allowed more than 3 courses. I do it for my own learning and growth, which is great, but it's not a career path.
It probably varies by university but all adjuncts where I am get paid the same regardless of whether it's law, business or lib arts.

Go to HYSCCN keep the debt low, and do biglaw or whatever, but don't do a PhD. A PhD closes all doors to employment outside of a small shrinking academia field.

freakazo1d
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Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:35 pm

Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby freakazo1d » Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:09 pm

Wow great points. I definitely am leaning more towards Option #1.

From the get-go I didn't think Option #3 was very viable, but I think I've ruled out Option #2 as well. I didn't fully consider the academic side of things as much as I should have. I think the best thing to do is focus on my J.D. right now, get good grades, get on a law review, publish along the way, clerk, and then do BigLaw and see how it goes. It makes the most sense and doesn't commit me to anything along the way. And, if I can just be an adjunct while working that would be awesome. Teaching full-time doesn't have to be the only option for sure.

I've also considered doing a PhD part time (after law school) if its something I'm passionate about at that point. I think that might be a better way of going about it then committing right now.


Thank you all so much!

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banjo
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Re: JD + PhD Program Question

Postby banjo » Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:15 pm

Good luck. Seems like you did your research and have a sensible plan going forward.




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