JD/PhD and clerking

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JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:28 pm

Anyone know which judges see PhDs as a plus. I know everyone says Posner likes JD/PhDs. Are there others? In general, does anyone know if doing the joint-degree helps with clerkship apps? For example, does doing the PhD help compensate for no LR since judges see he PhD as evidence of research and writing skills and know you might not have time for LR?

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:40 pm

Honestly, doing a Ph.D. only to help with clerkship apps sounds like a really, really bad idea to me. That's a crapload of work, and really different work from law school work. And as a clerk with a Ph.D., I don't think it makes up for any deficiencies on the J.D. side - some judges think it's cool, but only if it's on top of all the other stuff they'd normally want. If you want to do a Ph.D. because you want the degree or you want to get into legal academia, go for it. But for a clerkship? No. Totally don't.

(Caveat: am not competitive for Posner, so no idea about that. And my Ph.D. isn't STEM, so can't speak to that, either.)

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:53 pm

I actually think that a PhD (at least in the humanities) would be potentially detrimental to your clerkship chances, depending on how you sell it. I was specifically told by a JD/PhD professor with a lot of knowledge about the clerkship process that I should absolutely not mention in interest in academia anywhere in my cover letter or during an interview since the vast majority of judges want clerks who want to actually practice. This professor tried to sell themselves as an academic to multiple circuit court judges who this person was told would want wannabe academics when applying for clerkships after law school--of the dozen or so judges this person tried this strategy with, it was a complete flop and turned off most all of them except for 1-2.

ETA: Reread OP. I don't have a specific list of judges who might like JD/PhD's, but I assume there is considerable overlap with the few judges who are more academic friendly, e.g., Stephen Williams on D.C. Circuit.

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:36 pm

does the joint jd-phd at least help overcome not doing LR? I know many CoA judges basically treat LR as a dealbreaker and I wonder if doing a PhD at the same time as JD would compensate for no LR.

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby anon168 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:53 pm

Get a PhD because, well, you want to get a PhD. Not because you think it will help you get a clerkship because 99 out of 100 times it won't.

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:does the joint jd-phd at least help overcome not doing LR? I know many CoA judges basically treat LR as a dealbreaker and I wonder if doing a PhD at the same time as JD would compensate for no LR.


From what I saw, most of the judges who were interested in wannabe academic clerks were feeder judges, with an exception or two. I would assume most of these judges would like to see LR on your resume, but if you had top grades and a good excuse it might not be a deal breaker.

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:does the joint jd-phd at least help overcome not doing LR? I know many CoA judges basically treat LR as a dealbreaker and I wonder if doing a PhD at the same time as JD would compensate for no LR.


Judges have treated my Ph.D as a proxy for research/writing skills, yes, the same way that LR is a proxy for research/writing skills. But a much much much easier and better way to get that credential is to publish something outside of your school's law review (or win/place in a writing competition). Because honestly, if you can't get a note published somewhere, you're not in a position to succeed in a Ph.D. program. Ph.D. research is way tougher than LR.

You might also try to succeed in a moot court competition - not all judges want academic types.

(Also, don't you have to apply for JD-PhD programs around the time you enter law school? That is, if you know you're not on LR, can you even still add the PhD program? And won't it add a bunch of time to your program?)

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Lawquacious » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote: Ph.D. research is way tougher than LR.)



lol. Without qualification this strikes me as inaccurate. PhD research for dissertation obviously more involved because it occurs over a longer period of time and culminates in a longer work product, but academic research is academic research. Obviously a lot of dissertation research is empirical instead of simply analytical, but in that regard you are comparing apples to oranges to the extent you think empirical research is categorically harder.

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:36 pm

Lawquacious wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: Ph.D. research is way tougher than LR.)



lol. Without qualification this strikes me as inaccurate. PhD research for dissertation obviously more involved because it occurs over a longer period of time and culminates in a longer work product, but academic research is academic research. Obviously a lot of dissertation research is empirical instead of simply analytical, but in that regard you are comparing apples to oranges to the extent you think empirical research is categorically harder.

I'm not comparing PhD research to other academic research - I'm comparing it to doing law review. Totally different things.

(I'll grant that in some cases entry to law review can actually be tougher than entry to a Ph.D. program, but that's going to vary a lot by school and individual.)

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Re: JD/PhD and clerking

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:29 pm

To be a contrarian, my judge is impressed by PhDs and has hired at least two that I know of. He also has been hiring wannabe academics, at least recently. (I suspect largely because he likes to have former clerk profs to funnel him clerks -- he hates the clerk hiring process.)

That said, he's definitely in the minority, at least as I understand it. I can think of at least one judge and possibly two who I totally put off by saying that I wanted to go into academia.




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