Any law students considering a PhD?

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iagolives
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Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby iagolives » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:08 am

Hey everyone,

I am a rising 2L and have for some time (even before I decided to go to law school) wanted to go into academia to research, teach, and generally be active in causes that I care about. I am very interested in democratization, voting rights, etc. and think that, in this area, a PhD would compliment a JD quite well. Am I crazy? I know it seems like a lot of extra schooling but it is an area I am more and more passionate about and it seems like most people (including myself) see me more as an academic (either legal or otherwise) than a practicing attorney.

Is anyone doing this or have reason to know why this is/is not a good idea? Thanks.

Pearalegal
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby Pearalegal » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:35 am

Don't think it's crazy, but your goals generally sound like they would be better suited to getting your phd without the JD. The extra schooling isn't what concerns me (you probably wouldn't be in that much longer) but the extra expense. Is there something the JD would teach you that is applicable to your goals that you couldn't focus on while pursuing your doctorate?

bleaker
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby bleaker » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:36 am

Fellow rising 2L here. Pretty convinced to go after a history PhD (I take the GRE next week).

JD-PhDs are becoming increasingly common for interdisciplinary academics. Couple things to keep in mind:

1. Look for a program that treats this as a true joint degree. Usually such a program will knock off a year or more from one of the degrees, which will help a little on the timing.

2. Be sure you know what your target job is afterwards, and keep on track for it. If you want to teach at a law school, make sure your CV shows you're a law scholar first and a sociologist second (sprinkle in a clerkship, publish in law reviews instead of sociology journals, etc.). Of course the reverse is true if you're gunning for a sociology department.

3. Keep in mind that for legal academia, the most important thing for landing a job is your writing. This is where a PhD can be very valuable, especially if you snag a good program, because it can essentially turn into several funded years of producing good articles. So as you look for programs, favor those that offer the most development for your articles.

transplantedbuckeye
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby transplantedbuckeye » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:41 pm

I want to get a PhD in cultural/biological anthropology. If you do it following law school, or even during I suppose, you will most likely get the PhD paid for by being a graduate student instructor. Personally, I think your JD would be an excellent tool for doing elections, civil rights, etc., since I am guessing most current professors focusing on these areas do not have a full understanding of how to write/enforce/understand the laws outside a social science context. Plus, law schools would love to snag a professor that will both teach the law and condcut cutting edge research at the school.

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dominkay
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby dominkay » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:55 pm

It's a gamble, to say the least. I think getting tenure is even more difficult than making partner. The market for PhDs in the humanities is completely over-saturated.

Anecdotally, I know someone who did very well at Penn, then decided to get a PhD in Philosophy. He was going to become a law professor. Instead, he's unemployed. He's never practiced law. He's not been able to get a clerkship. His law degree was 7 years old by the time he got his PhD; it was stale. Getting a JD and a PhD concurrently might not be a terrible idea, and getting a JD AFTER a PhD may not be totally stupid, but I think a PhD post JD is not TCR.

cubswin
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby cubswin » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:00 pm

dominkay wrote:It's a gamble, to say the least. I think getting tenure is even more difficult than making partner. The market for PhDs in the humanities is completely over-saturated.

Anecdotally, I know someone who did very well at Penn, then decided to get a PhD in Philosophy. He was going to become a law professor. Instead, he's unemployed. He's never practiced law. He's not been able to get a clerkship. His law degree was 7 years old by the time he got his PhD; it was stale. Getting a JD and a PhD concurrently might not be a terrible idea, and getting a JD AFTER a PhD may not be totally stupid, but I think a PhD post JD is not TCR.


Ouch. Philosophy is the hardest academic market. Was his PhD from a top program?

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dominkay
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby dominkay » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:13 pm

cubswin wrote:
dominkay wrote:It's a gamble, to say the least. I think getting tenure is even more difficult than making partner. The market for PhDs in the humanities is completely over-saturated.

Anecdotally, I know someone who did very well at Penn, then decided to get a PhD in Philosophy. He was going to become a law professor. Instead, he's unemployed. He's never practiced law. He's not been able to get a clerkship. His law degree was 7 years old by the time he got his PhD; it was stale. Getting a JD and a PhD concurrently might not be a terrible idea, and getting a JD AFTER a PhD may not be totally stupid, but I think a PhD post JD is not TCR.


Ouch. Philosophy is the hardest academic market. Was his PhD from a top program?


I don't really know how Philosophy programs are ranked, and I don't want to be any more specific, but it's from a good school.

Honestly, I get annoyed every time I think about this, because he graduated from law school during the Good Old Days and if he'd just gotten a job, he would be in an amazing position right now.

bleaker
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby bleaker » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:16 pm

dominkay wrote:Getting a JD and a PhD concurrently might not be a terrible idea, and getting a JD AFTER a PhD may not be totally stupid, but I think a PhD post JD is not TCR.


It depends. I have several classmates rounding off their PhD this summer between 1L and 2L, but then again, most of my dual degree professors finished their PhDs after their JDs.

You're right that it's important not to let the JD go stale, though. And it's important that law schools realize you really are interested in law, not just the easier tenure track at law schools. The last thing law schools want is to hire a "law and history" teacher who turns into "just history" after tenure.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby sumus romani » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:22 pm

This issue is very complicated.

First, in the liberal arts and sciences at least, only idiots pay tuition for a PhD. Instead, they receive funding through research or teaching. The average time to PhD in the liberal arts is something like 9 years. Many of my friends have gone well over 10 years. People can do them in 6, but less than that is very rare. In the liberal sciences, 5-6 years is common. It would be insane to pay tuition for all of these years and borrow for cost of living to boot, all for worse job prospects than pretty much any other field (far, far worse than law).

Second, the JD will not really help those with a PhD in landing an academic job in the liberal arts or sciences, except in criminal justice departments. But, the PhD does help a JD land a job in law academia. This is largely because the JD isn't a real doctorate.

Here are some tips.
(1) If you enter a joint JD/PhD program look very carefully at funding and such. Some joint programs will require that you pay law tuition for your PhD classes. It is beyond foolish to do this. I seem to recall that Berkeley had something good going on in this sort of thing, but I don't remember (law school at least partially funded with a fully funded PhD, or something similar--maybe Stanford had this).

(2) If you enter two different programs, do the PhD fully funded first. The PhD ages well, but the JD's shelf life is limited. Think of it this way. Getting into academia is a long shot, and you want to have a good back-up plan--which is having a fresh JD.

(3) You need to be fully aware that you are going to spend well over a decade in pretty serious poverty on such a track.

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dominkay
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby dominkay » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:06 pm

bleaker wrote:I have several classmates rounding off their PhD this summer between 1L and 2L, but then again, most of my dual degree professors finished their PhDs after their JDs.


I am but a lowly 0L, but I've spent a lot of time lately reading faculty profiles, and it seems to me like most dual degree profs actually get their PhDs first. But it's certainly possible that my sample has not been representative.

bleaker
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby bleaker » Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:04 pm

dominkay wrote:
bleaker wrote:I have several classmates rounding off their PhD this summer between 1L and 2L, but then again, most of my dual degree professors finished their PhDs after their JDs.


I am but a lowly 0L, but I've spent a lot of time lately reading faculty profiles, and it seems to me like most dual degree profs actually get their PhDs first. But it's certainly possible that my sample has not been representative.


I've been looking mostly at the younger crowd, around ten years out from graduation.

One thing to keep in mind with timing and joint degree programs, a lot of these joint degree programs tend to give students discretion on when their JD is awarded. So even if you haven't taken a law class in five years, you can get the JD minted the same year you finish your PhD or a year before or after. Couple that with a clerkship, and your JD will be perfectly fresh for hitting the academic market.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby iagolives » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:35 pm

Thanks for everyone's comments! They're helpful. I guess the only reason I'm asking is that, since I didn't do PhD first (which I realize I should have done) and since it's getting pretty late to do a joint degree, I wonder if it's too late and that ship has sailed. I have always loved theory/policy work and really enjoy discussing, writing, and researching these theories but I'm also practical and if it's too late, it's too late.

Just curious (if you all will put up with me a bit more), does anyone have any ideas/experience with jobs that ARE more academic-y/policy-like in nature if academia is off the table? I'm curious how much of this scenario is salvageable. Thanks!

EDIT: Oh and PS: Welcome to TLS, Bleaker!
Last edited by iagolives on Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dominkay
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby dominkay » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:43 pm

iagolives wrote:Thanks for everyone's comments! They're helpful. I guess the only reason I'm asking is that, since I didn't do PhD first (which I realize I should have done) and since it's getting pretty late to do a joint degree, I wonder if it's too late and that ship has sailed. I have always loved theory/policy work and really enjoy discussing, writing, and researching these theories but I'm also practical and if it's too late, it's too late.

Just curious (if you all will put up with me a bit more), does anyone have any ideas/experience with jobs that ARE more academic-y/policy-like in nature if academia is off the table? I'm curious how much of this scenario is salvageable. Thanks!


If you just want to be in academia, you can be totally become a law professor without a PhD. You can work at think tanks without a PhD. You can work for an administration without a PhD.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby Matthies » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:47 pm

iagolives wrote:Thanks for everyone's comments! They're helpful. I guess the only reason I'm asking is that, since I didn't do PhD first (which I realize I should have done) and since it's getting pretty late to do a joint degree, I wonder if it's too late and that ship has sailed. I have always loved theory/policy work and really enjoy discussing, writing, and researching these theories but I'm also practical and if it's too late, it's too late.

Just curious (if you all will put up with me a bit more), does anyone have any ideas/experience with jobs that ARE more academic-y/policy-like in nature if academia is off the table? I'm curious how much of this scenario is salvageable. Thanks!

EDIT: Oh and PS: Welcome to TLS, Bleaker!


You can do this with just the JD. nothing is stopping you from writing articles for law reviews, local bar rags, ABA rags, policy rags. The JD is enough credit for it to be believable so long as you actually research the topic.

The wonderful thing about legal journals is they are not peer reviewed (for the most part)m and instead reviewed for publication by law students who typically have no idea about the topic your writing about or if your reasoning is good, nor do they really care.

You could start a blog on your chosen subject, start researching topics now, do some directed research and build a somewhat believable creditability in your subject area by the time you graduate. Finding a job that will pay you do this will be easier if you actually have some publications in the area and contacts.

There is all ways an LLM as well which would give you more chances to publish.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby voice of reason » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:33 pm

I'm sort of the opposite of the OP because I have a PhD and am thinking of getting a JD.

Getting a PhD after the JD is a normal course for people who go into academia. The PhD->JD order is often followed by people with PhDs in technical subjects who become patent lawyers.

It sounds like the OP’s interests are social science, not humanities. In that case, the experiences of humanities PhDs (philosophy, literature, history, art history, etc.) in terms of time-to-degree and job prospects are not so relevant to the OP. Based on OP’s interests, the subject is probably political science. That PhD should take 5 or 6 years if you know what you’re doing and stay on track. It can be done in 4 if you are extremely disciplined about your dissertation.

As has been noted, you should not pay any tuition for a PhD and you should receive a stipend while working as an RA or TA. You may have to take loans for living expenses, because the typical stipend will be paying you as if you had a half time job.

The key question is what job you want. If you want to be a political science professor, get a political science PhD. Your JD will be a very small plus if you choose a closely connected specialty in poli sci like judicial politics.

If you want to do research outside of academia (say, for government, or a think tank, or a polling firm, or a policy research firm), then a poli sci PhD is fine but often no better or worse than a PhD in a related discipline like economics, social psychology, statistics, or sociology.

If you don’t want to be a professor or do research, you don’t need a PhD. For instance, if you want to be a lobbyist or run campaigns or work on legislative staff be a politician, you don’t need a PhD.

If you want to be a law professor, then the value of a PhD depends on things like where you went to law school, whether you’re on law review, and how much you can publish.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby bleaker » Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:02 pm

^^^ I agree with the above.

As far as worrying if the ship has sailed, you probably still have enough time, but just enough. Most joint degree programs that I've looked into require you to get locked in by late spring of your 2L year. Most PhD programs have application deadlines for mid-December, with decisions trickling out in the spring. So if you took the GRE now and got your written statements together, then hit up profs for recommendations when the semester starts up, you should have everything you need for an app.

Thus, instead of 3L, you would take a year or two in your PhD and eventually take your final semester (probably just a final semester instead of a full year if you're in a joint program) somewhere down the line.

The unpleasant part of all this is that PhD applications tend to be much more expensive than law school applications, and no one is beating down your door to give you a fee waiver.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby lawls » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:00 am

voice of reason wrote:
If you want to be a law professor, then the value of a PhD depends on things like where you went to law school, whether you’re on law review, and how much you can publish.


I have an MA in the social sciences and would love an academic job post law school. I would prefer a joint appointment, but am mostly aiming for legal academia. I was thinking I'd apply to PhD programs and law programs and see what happens with the PhD applications, which I know are harder to predict. Is there a good cutoff for PhD programs in the social sciences in terms of whether they'll be an aid in the search for a legal academia job? Top 10? Top 25? [The JD will hopefully be from HYS, if my numbers play out as hoped] The truth is that I think I'll enjoy the PhD program and would like the time to be able to publish and research and maybe teach, which a straight JD track won't allow to anywhere near the same extent.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby MURPH » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:33 am

iagolives wrote:Hey everyone,

I am a rising 2L and have for some time (even before I decided to go to law school) wanted to go into academia to research, teach, and generally be active in causes that I care about. I am very interested in democratization, voting rights, etc. and think that, in this area, a PhD would compliment a JD quite well. Am I crazy? I know it seems like a lot of extra schooling but it is an area I am more and more passionate about and it seems like most people (including myself) see me more as an academic (either legal or otherwise) than a practicing attorney.

Is anyone doing this or have reason to know why this is/is not a good idea? Thanks.

I am thinking of the joint JD/PhD as well and I don't mean to discourage it. But you can do the above things as a lawyer. I volunteered with the ACLU for a year. The lawyers there have a great life. By the time you or I read about a civil rights injustice in the newspaper they are already building a case and working to right the wrongs. They don't make a ton of money but everyone in town knows who to call when the police harrass protesters or when prisoners are being abused or schools mistreat students, etc.

There are a few organizations that deal with voting rights nationally and internationaly. By working with these groups you could get some LRAP support from your school and I suspect that they don't kill their young lawyers with 80 hour work weeks so you could use the extra time to research and publish. Good luck.

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby iagolives » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:28 am

Thanks for all the imput; it's more than I expected!

So, re: the joint JD/PhD. When I was digging a bit last year on this same topic, I heard a bit that non-legal academia look down a bit on joint programs b/c of their "abbreviated" nature. I never quite understood it but I heard it from more than one source so I thought it was worth considering. Anyone else hear the same? Also, my only hesitation in hardcore rushing to meet the deadline of the joint program is that I think my application would benefit from a year of working on writing and research and trying to get a decent publishable work. I seems that programs really prize this more than anything else. Is this true? Also, I am interested in more programs beyond my university. It would also only save me a semester of time which doesn't seem that much. Besides the "JD not being stale"/controlling when I get it minted and any financial perks, are there other compelling reasons for a joint degree that I'm missing?

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby Cleareyes » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:37 am

This is worth noting for those who want to give advice to OP: http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/sfs/ ... s/phd.html

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby iagolives » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:37 am

lawls wrote:
voice of reason wrote:
If you want to be a law professor, then the value of a PhD depends on things like where you went to law school, whether you’re on law review, and how much you can publish.


I have an MA in the social sciences and would love an academic job post law school. I would prefer a joint appointment, but am mostly aiming for legal academia. I was thinking I'd apply to PhD programs and law programs and see what happens with the PhD applications, which I know are harder to predict. Is there a good cutoff for PhD programs in the social sciences in terms of whether they'll be an aid in the search for a legal academia job? Top 10? Top 25? [The JD will hopefully be from HYS, if my numbers play out as hoped] The truth is that I think I'll enjoy the PhD program and would like the time to be able to publish and research and maybe teach, which a straight JD track won't allow to anywhere near the same extent.


I hear for legal academia, while they do get candidates from all over, a high number of them go to T6. I would say that going outside the T14 is quite the steep hill to climb.

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml

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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby lawls » Sat Jul 03, 2010 12:54 pm

iagolives wrote:
lawls wrote:
voice of reason wrote:
If you want to be a law professor, then the value of a PhD depends on things like where you went to law school, whether you’re on law review, and how much you can publish.


I have an MA in the social sciences and would love an academic job post law school. I would prefer a joint appointment, but am mostly aiming for legal academia. I was thinking I'd apply to PhD programs and law programs and see what happens with the PhD applications, which I know are harder to predict. Is there a good cutoff for PhD programs in the social sciences in terms of whether they'll be an aid in the search for a legal academia job? Top 10? Top 25? [The JD will hopefully be from HYS, if my numbers play out as hoped] The truth is that I think I'll enjoy the PhD program and would like the time to be able to publish and research and maybe teach, which a straight JD track won't allow to anywhere near the same extent.


I hear for legal academia, while they do get candidates from all over, a high number of them go to T6. I would say that going outside the T14 is quite the steep hill to climb.

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml


I completely agree that outside of a few programs--Yale, Harvard, Stanford, maybe Michigan/Chicago--the JD doesn't get you far for legal academia; I won't really pursue it unless I get the JD from HYS. I was wondering more about where the cutoffs are for PhD programs (as a supplemental degree), since there are far fewer PhDs minted a year, and the programs are much more difficult admissions wise. So, for instance, if I get into a program ranked 15th-20th in a social sciences discipline, will it still be enough of an addition that it will help my legal academia prospects? I'd like to do the PhD, so that isn't an issue...

sumus romani
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Re: Any law students considering a PhD?

Postby sumus romani » Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:23 pm

lawls wrote:
iagolives wrote:
lawls wrote:
voice of reason wrote:
If you want to be a law professor, then the value of a PhD depends on things like where you went to law school, whether you’re on law review, and how much you can publish.


I have an MA in the social sciences and would love an academic job post law school. I would prefer a joint appointment, but am mostly aiming for legal academia. I was thinking I'd apply to PhD programs and law programs and see what happens with the PhD applications, which I know are harder to predict. Is there a good cutoff for PhD programs in the social sciences in terms of whether they'll be an aid in the search for a legal academia job? Top 10? Top 25? [The JD will hopefully be from HYS, if my numbers play out as hoped] The truth is that I think I'll enjoy the PhD program and would like the time to be able to publish and research and maybe teach, which a straight JD track won't allow to anywhere near the same extent.


I hear for legal academia, while they do get candidates from all over, a high number of them go to T6. I would say that going outside the T14 is quite the steep hill to climb.

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml


I completely agree that outside of a few programs--Yale, Harvard, Stanford, maybe Michigan/Chicago--the JD doesn't get you far for legal academia; I won't really pursue it unless I get the JD from HYS. I was wondering more about where the cutoffs are for PhD programs (as a supplemental degree), since there are far fewer PhDs minted a year, and the programs are much more difficult admissions wise. So, for instance, if I get into a program ranked 15th-20th in a social sciences discipline, will it still be enough of an addition that it will help my legal academia prospects? I'd like to do the PhD, so that isn't an issue...



It sounds like the OP might be willing to work outside legal academia. Criminal justice departments, for example, have really been growing over the past decade. The faculty in those programs are often ex-cops and the like, with only MAs from terrible programs. I have a great deal of respect for cops and such, but the scholarship in that area is just terrible. I think a lot of criminal justice programs would love a JD/PhD. I'm talking here of directional-state univ and the like. The pay is never good compared to employed lawyers. But there is a significant upside to academia of any sort.




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