MPP or JD for a political career?

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joethemole
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MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby joethemole » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 pm

Hey everyone,

I'm wondering what would best prepare me for a political career, an MPP or JD?

I've read through the prospectuses of MPP programs, and they are highly relevant for politics (i.e. covering tactical things like campaigning), but I'm wondering if the JD will ultimately be more useful because it's actually about making legislation.

I'm probably not going to pursue a JD/MPP joint degree, as I would like to spend some time in the private sector before moving to politics, so I'm more likely to pursue either an MPP/MBA, JD, or JD/MBA

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated

Bill T Cat
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Bill T Cat » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:42 pm

What on earth do you mean by "political career?" The things you need to do to run for congress are very different than the things you need to do to get a job in a local city administration, which are very different than the things you need to do in order to work for an agency in DC.

In any case, get a J.D. if you want to work in law. Using it as a means to a non-legal end is generally a bad idea.

milanproda
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby milanproda » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:54 pm

Undertand that most people on this forum are either law students who have no idea what they are talking about or people who just graduated and do not have the experience to tell you what to do. Most of them do not know and will not give you valuable advice. They will act as if they know, but they do not. Look at the bios of Senators, lobbyists, and other politicians and you will get a better idea of what you degree should be.

Most people here will tell you not to get a JD if you want to get into diplomacy, business, or anything non-legal. Just go and look at some of top CEO's in the USA; a significant portion are JD's. Look at ambassadors who are in the important positions in important countries; a majority are JD's. And the list goes on.

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Detrox
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Detrox » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:55 pm

Whichever can set you up with better (more useful and strong) connections. The skills you learn in the schools will be less important/relevant...

But also, this!:

milanproda wrote:Undertand that most people on this forum are either law students who have no idea what they are talking about or people who just graduated and do not have the experience to tell you what to do. Most of them do not know and will not give you valuable advice. They will act as if they know, but they do not. Look at the bios of Senators, lobbyists, and other politicians and you will get a better idea of what you degree should be.

Most people here will tell you not to get a JD if you want to get into diplomacy, business, or anything non-legal. Just go and look at some of top CEO's in the USA; a significant portion are JD's. Look at ambassadors who are in the important positions in important countries; a majority are JD's. And the list goes on.

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Samara
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Samara » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:11 am

milanproda wrote:Undertand that most people on this forum are either law students who have no idea what they are talking about or people who just graduated and do not have the experience to tell you what to do. Most of them do not know and will not give you valuable advice. They will act as if they know, but they do not. Look at the bios of Senators, lobbyists, and other politicians and you will get a better idea of what you degree should be.

Most people here will tell you not to get a JD if you want to get into diplomacy, business, or anything non-legal. Just go and look at some of top CEO's in the USA; a significant portion are JD's. Look at ambassadors who are in the important positions in important countries; a majority are JD's. And the list goes on.

LOL Yep, "looking at bios" definitely makes you more of an expert on this topic than the many people on here with years of experience in the field.

The second guy is right. What do you mean by a political career? Do you want to work in politics or run for office? If you want to run for office, it depends on the type of office, but generally, neither are relevant to running for office. If you want to be a lobbyist, a JD can be a good path under the right circumstances, as can an MPA/MPP. Again, it depends on what your specific goals are.

Lots of politicians are lawyers because of the nature of the profession, not because a JD gives you special training or looks good to voters. Being a successful lawyer gets you connected to the power players and business leaders in your community; connections you can leverage into money, publicity, and support. Lawyers are also better able to abide by a flexible schedule, necessary for campaigning and legislating. Finally, lawyers are still among the most respected and impressive professions. This is also why a lot of politicians are doctors or small business owners or similar professions.

Get a JD if you want to practice law. It's that simple.

(I would consider government relations under "practicing law," but a JD is often not the credited route.)

09042014
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby 09042014 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:13 am

There is no degree path for elected office you rube.

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IAFG
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby IAFG » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:17 am

If you mean national politics, the best thing to do is move to DC, get a job and start meeting people. 2-5 years later, you will have your own opinion about what degree, if any, you want to get.

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IAFG
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby IAFG » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:21 am

milanproda wrote:Undertand that most people on this forum are either law students who have no idea what they are talking about or people who just graduated and do not have the experience to tell you what to do. Most of them do not know and will not give you valuable advice. They will act as if they know, but they do not. Look at the bios of Senators, lobbyists, and other politicians and you will get a better idea of what you degree should be.

Most people here will tell you not to get a JD if you want to get into diplomacy, business, or anything non-legal. Just go and look at some of top CEO's in the USA; a significant portion are JD's. Look at ambassadors who are in the important positions in important countries; a majority are JD's. And the list goes on.

Ah yes, and since no law students or lawyers are former staffers or lobbyists, no one here could possibly offer OP relevant insight.

Also, causation is the same thing as correlation.

joethemole
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby joethemole » Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:32 am

Thanks for the responses so far,

To clarify, yes, my dream is to run for a seat in the Canadian Parliament. A significant portion of politicians in my country does have JDs, although there are also many who do not, e.g. the Prime Minister, who has a master's in economics.

I've always thought a JD is the best preparation for politics, since so many politicians have it...

But since graduating and getting an actual job, I realized that I really don't want to practice law, which is why I've not continued studying for the LSATs (I actually applied to law schools a year ago, and didn't get in). This is what's led me to consider the MBA/MPP track, since I think the MPP teaches more politically-relevant courses, like media, campaigning, elections, public budgets, etc.

But my concerns regarding the MPP are these:

- Is the JD better at teaching me the day-to-day work of a legislator
- Will the JD teach me better skills in running for office, i.e. learning how to debate, learning the technical language of law, etc.
- If I want to move into international development/diplomacy work later on (e.g. UN, foreign affairs office), will the JD give me an advantage over MPP? in non-legal-type roles

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EvilClinton
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby EvilClinton » Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:37 am

joethemole wrote:Thanks for the responses so far,

To clarify, yes, my dream is to run for a seat in the Canadian Parliament. A significant portion of politicians in my country does have JDs, although there are also many who do not, e.g. the Prime Minister, who has a master's in economics.

I've always thought a JD is the best preparation for politics, since so many politicians have it...

But since graduating and getting an actual job, I realized that I really don't want to practice law, which is why I've not continued studying for the LSATs (I actually applied to law schools a year ago, and didn't get in). This is what's led me to consider the MBA/MPP track, since I think the MPP teaches more politically-relevant courses, like media, campaigning, elections, public budgets, etc.

But my concerns regarding the MPP are these:

- Is the JD better at teaching me the day-to-day work of a legislator
- Will the JD teach me better skills in running for office, i.e. learning how to debate, learning the technical language of law, etc.
- If I want to move into international development/diplomacy work later on (e.g. UN, foreign affairs office), will the JD give me an advantage over MPP? in non-legal-type roles


This site mainly focuses on applicants who are interested in attending American law schools. Most of the people here want to go into the private sector and work for American firms. I don't think anyone here will be able to give you good advice about how getting JD will affect your chances in Canadian politics. Sorry.

joethemole
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby joethemole » Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:42 am

I'm not too concerned about attending a US law school since I did my undergrad at an American college, and am currently working in the US. I guess there is the downside of not learning Canadian law, but I would be aiming for a top 10 law school if I were to apply, in which case the degree would also be respected in Canada.

EvilClinton wrote:
joethemole wrote:Thanks for the responses so far,

To clarify, yes, my dream is to run for a seat in the Canadian Parliament. A significant portion of politicians in my country does have JDs, although there are also many who do not, e.g. the Prime Minister, who has a master's in economics.

I've always thought a JD is the best preparation for politics, since so many politicians have it...

But since graduating and getting an actual job, I realized that I really don't want to practice law, which is why I've not continued studying for the LSATs (I actually applied to law schools a year ago, and didn't get in). This is what's led me to consider the MBA/MPP track, since I think the MPP teaches more politically-relevant courses, like media, campaigning, elections, public budgets, etc.

But my concerns regarding the MPP are these:

- Is the JD better at teaching me the day-to-day work of a legislator
- Will the JD teach me better skills in running for office, i.e. learning how to debate, learning the technical language of law, etc.
- If I want to move into international development/diplomacy work later on (e.g. UN, foreign affairs office), will the JD give me an advantage over MPP? in non-legal-type roles


This site mainly focuses on applicants who are interested in attending American law schools. Most of the people here want to go into the private sector and work for American firms. I don't think anyone here will be able to give you good advice about how getting JD will affect your chances in Canadian politics. Sorry.

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Samara
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Samara » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:28 pm

joethemole wrote:Thanks for the responses so far,

To clarify, yes, my dream is to run for a seat in the Canadian Parliament. A significant portion of politicians in my country does have JDs, although there are also many who do not, e.g. the Prime Minister, who has a master's in economics.

I've always thought a JD is the best preparation for politics, since so many politicians have it...

But since graduating and getting an actual job, I realized that I really don't want to practice law, which is why I've not continued studying for the LSATs (I actually applied to law schools a year ago, and didn't get in). This is what's led me to consider the MBA/MPP track, since I think the MPP teaches more politically-relevant courses, like media, campaigning, elections, public budgets, etc.

But my concerns regarding the MPP are these:

- Is the JD better at teaching me the day-to-day work of a legislator
- Will the JD teach me better skills in running for office, i.e. learning how to debate, learning the technical language of law, etc.
- If I want to move into international development/diplomacy work later on (e.g. UN, foreign affairs office), will the JD give me an advantage over MPP? in non-legal-type roles

- A JD will teach you nothing about the day-to-day work of being a legislator and will have no relevance.
- A JD will teach you nothing about the skills in running for office and have little relevance.
- I can't speak to the third point, but it seems like a small advantage in getting a JD.

The best way, by far, to learn about what a legislator does and how to campaign well is to get a job in the legislature and get involved with campaigns. Politics and campaigns have very little to do with the technical knowledge of the law gained through a JD.

joethemole
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby joethemole » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:26 am

Thanks Samara, that was useful.

However, why do we see so many politicians with JDs rather than other advanced degrees? It almost seems like an academic prerequisite for the average politician... plus it seems to me that a majority of my undergrad classmates who were into political and social issues ended up going to law school. Is this more because they are just following the herd, or is it because there is some solid advantage to getting a JD, and then pursuing a career in political life? (I guess the related work would be public service)

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IAFG
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby IAFG » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:35 am

joethemole wrote:Thanks Samara, that was useful.

However, why do we see so many politicians with JDs rather than other advanced degrees? It almost seems like an academic prerequisite for the average politician... plus it seems to me that a majority of my undergrad classmates who were into political and social issues ended up going to law school. Is this more because they are just following the herd, or is it because there is some solid advantage to getting a JD, and then pursuing a career in political life? (I guess the related work would be public service)

Causation vs. correlation.

PMan99
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby PMan99 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:20 am

There might be an advantage if you're talking about Harvard, maybe Yale and Stanford too.

Getting a JD from Stetson will more likely than not be a huge negative.

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Samara
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Samara » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:07 pm

joethemole wrote:Thanks Samara, that was useful.

However, why do we see so many politicians with JDs rather than other advanced degrees? It almost seems like an academic prerequisite for the average politician... plus it seems to me that a majority of my undergrad classmates who were into political and social issues ended up going to law school. Is this more because they are just following the herd, or is it because there is some solid advantage to getting a JD, and then pursuing a career in political life? (I guess the related work would be public service)

See my posts above. The nature of the profession of law lends itself to politics better than probably any other career. The fact that the fields are academically similar is almost exclusively coincidence. Get a JD if you want to be a lawyer. Otherwise, find a different way to be a successful, well-regarded professional.

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IAFG
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby IAFG » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:11 pm

I don't know what the typical Canadian politician's bio looks like, but since politics is all about being well-connected, shouldn't you avoid an American law degree, where you are going to spend no time at all for 3 years brushing elbows with Canadian movers & shakers? This just seems all kinds of dumb to me.

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mattviphky
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby mattviphky » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:02 am

I typed up a whole spiel about this, but pretty much the down and dirty would be to work for a politician for a time, figure out if law school would still be conducive to your career goals, and then enroll in a really good school with very little debt. Also, try not to start a family right off the bat. The entry-level game in politics takes a lot of time out of your life, and generally pays little. Like, very little. That being said, it's a very fun work environment, because staffers are generally younger people that the bigwigs know can afford to work for very little doing a very demanding job, and spend all day doing it. PM if you want more info. My opinion isn't gold or anything, but I'm probably more informed on this than the average poster.

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Zensack
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Zensack » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:27 am

I'm not an expert in politics, but I do know that most state legislators list their occupation as lawyer. It's also one of the most common among presidents (teacher and general being the other stand outs).

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Samara
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Samara » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:04 am

Zensack wrote:I'm not an expert in politics, but I do know that most state legislators list their occupation as lawyer. It's also one of the most common among presidents (teacher and general being the other stand outs).

*sigh*

r6_philly
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby r6_philly » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:15 am

I have a MPA and WE (quite a bit in the public sector). Although I am not focusing on a political career, I do have some ideas. Most of my friends from the MPA program are in public service/politics on the state level, including state legislators. My opinions are formed both from the experience of myself and my friends, as well as what was taught in the MPA program.

With a goal of politics, JD and MPP/MPA provides you different skills and opportunities. A lot of firms/partners are well connected both politically and financially. Not only in DC, but DC firms are obviously some of the top choices for landing spots after a government job. I think the JD itself may not be super useful, but it does allow you to get involved -- if you work at the right firms.

A MPP/MPA will give you practical skills on how to navigate a public career, let it be in an agency or legislature. It teaches you the mechanics of how to get elected and how to work through your appointment. But it does not really give you too much advantage on how to get started. Most people who get in high offices are in a unique position of connections, power, and resources. You can't build all by getting any or both degrees. You can learn what you need to learn and put yourself at the starting line, but there is more to be done outside of school.



IAFG wrote:I don't know what the typical Canadian politician's bio looks like, but since politics is all about being well-connected, shouldn't you avoid an American law degree, where you are going to spend no time at all for 3 years brushing elbows with Canadian movers & shakers? This just seems all kinds of dumb to me.


I agree with this. I think the most important part about getting elected is building relationships. Relationships with your donors, your constituents, and your peers. You are not going to do any of that practicing American law. It isn't the same for an American politician. They can work in DC for a few years and return "home" and build more relationships. The DC connections will be directly useful going forward. On contrast, if you study American law and practice here, you are not building your relationship in the community, you are working for firm/businesses with little interest in Canada, you are not networking and building relationships with Canadian politicians on a day to day basis. Heck, why should anyone vote for someone who bolted out of the community the moment he/she was old enough (unless the opponent was not not electable). It's going to be hard to build confidence and trust in your constituents.

Obviously this is generalizing a bit. But basically, degrees are nice, knowledge is nice, but you have to think long term in how to position yourself to get elected eventually. Getting the degrees is probably not as important as that.

joethemole
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby joethemole » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:27 am

Thanks everyone for the insightful comments... especially r6.

Big Slammu
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby Big Slammu » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:03 pm

IAFG wrote:If you mean national politics, the best thing to do is move to DC, get a job and start meeting people. 2-5 years later, you will have your own opinion about what degree, if any, you want to get.

From my personal experience TCR

Substitute *your desired state capital* for DC for state politics.

09042014
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby 09042014 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:08 pm

If you are talking about being elected to office, all politics is local. Find where you want to live and join whatever party is dominant there. And get involved.

TCR is move to a redneck area and primary a weak moderate republican. Work your way up.

malcbru
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Re: MPP or JD for a political career?

Postby malcbru » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:47 am

The recommendation to work in a Capitol (whether it be DC or state) then move back "home" is common advice. But what about working in the community you actually would want to run for in the future? Doesn't that make more sense? By being intimately involved with the important people in the community you would gain resources/support and name recognition from people who matter more.

I work in a district office for a legislator and hope to leverage all the connections I'm making into some sort of run in the future. I am also debating whether a JD will help me achieve that goal too, but so far my impression is that it would help. To the lay person, just the aura of "being a lawyer" goes far and I think there is some truth that by being in that profession you meet the power brokers in your community (or have the opportunity/ability to).

I also think the quality of the law school matters less for this. In fact, a more local school may be even better. There is always the advantage of lay prestige for a place like GULC, but I don't think it's radically different in the eyes of the lay person compared to a state law school.

Just my 2 cents. I am also considering getting a JD for the same reasons as OP, but not for Canadian politics. I'm curious to hear more politicos on TLS chime in on this topic, especially if you have more to say than the TLS conventional wisdom: Capitol 2-5 years, make connections, return home, run.




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