Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

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cpboy77
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Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby cpboy77 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:59 pm

I have applied to law schools because I have an interest in international law and policy, which I realize is about as vague a field as one can describe. I've always been interested in politics (I was a poli/sci major) and thought about going to law school after taking international law courses during senior year of undergrad. However, I'm wondering whether a JD is what I really need to do to break into the field (again, "field" in the broadest sense).

Does anyone have any sources/readings that you can point me toward where I can educate myself on whether law school would be, to put it bluntly, a wise $100k + investment in light of my interests?

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reasonable_man
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:00 pm

cpboy77 wrote:I have applied to law schools because I have an interest in international law and policy, which I realize is about as vague a field as one can describe. I've always been interested in politics (I was a poli/sci major) and thought about going to law school after taking international law courses during senior year of undergrad. However, I'm wondering whether a JD is what I really need to do to break into the field (again, "field" in the broadest sense).

Does anyone have any sources/readings that you can point me toward where I can educate myself on whether law school would be, to put it bluntly, a wise $100k + investment in light of my interests?


To put it bluntly; no.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby Blindmelon » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:02 pm

Get a PHD or MPP.

cpboy77
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby cpboy77 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:08 pm

Can I have a little elaboration? I've already taken the LSAT, applied to schools, and been accepted. So at this point it's gonna take a little more than "no" to dissuade me. But I do appreciate the input.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby Kiersten1985 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:10 pm

I'm applying with that interest, too, but I realize that's all it may ever be - an "interest." I'd be perfectly content if not happy practicing corporate litigation in BigLaw so to me, law school is definitely worth it. If I magically find a path to the State Dept. or something similar years down the line, then great. If not, that's great, too. I can always keep policy as in interest/hobby.

In short, if international policy is the only thing you'd be happy doing, get a MA or the other degrees above.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby Kiersten1985 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:12 pm

Also - talk to some of your professors who taught the classes that sparked this interest. They can better explain what you'd need to obtain degree-wise to enter into the specific area that you like. Chances are, they're not going to say a JD is necessary. It can't hurt you ever unless you're putting yourself into debt.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby Kiersten1985 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:13 pm

cpboy77 wrote:Can I have a little elaboration? I've already taken the LSAT, applied to schools, and been accepted. So at this point it's gonna take a little more than "no" to dissuade me. But I do appreciate the input.


Lastly - and I'm going to play Ms. Obvious here - you probably should have been asking these questions prior to doing all of that.

cpboy77
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby cpboy77 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:17 pm

Kiersten1985 wrote:
cpboy77 wrote:Can I have a little elaboration? I've already taken the LSAT, applied to schools, and been accepted. So at this point it's gonna take a little more than "no" to dissuade me. But I do appreciate the input.


Lastly - and I'm going to play Ms. Obvious here - you probably should have been asking these questions prior to doing all of that.


Lol, good call.

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englawyer
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby englawyer » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:59 pm

int'l law is a myth, and it becomes even more of a myth as you slide down in the rankings.

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worldtraveler
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:52 am

What exactly do you want to do? The answers will be different if you want to work for an international NGO vs. a firm.

BenJ
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby BenJ » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:52 am

No. Start over, take the GRE, go to IR grad school. Start readying your apps to SAIS/Fletcher/Walsh/Kennedy/etc. There is no such thing as an international law, politics or policy job involving a JD; they'll all require an IR graduate degree.

The only exception would be working for a foreign corporation advising them on US law (usually tax law), which doesn't sound like what you're interested in at all.

cpboy77
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby cpboy77 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:38 pm

worldtraveler wrote:What exactly do you want to do? The answers will be different if you want to work for an international NGO vs. a firm.


Simplest answer: I don't know.

Obviously that does give you much to work with as far as helping me.

cpboy77
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby cpboy77 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:38 pm

BenJ wrote:No. Start over, take the GRE, go to IR grad school. Start readying your apps to SAIS/Fletcher/Walsh/Kennedy/etc. There is no such thing as an international law, politics or policy job involving a JD; they'll all require an IR graduate degree.

The only exception would be working for a foreign corporation advising them on US law (usually tax law), which doesn't sound like what you're interested in at all.


Thanks. As tought as it is to do, I will have to take that advice seriously and reassess some stuff at the least.

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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby BenJ » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:08 pm

cpboy77 wrote:
BenJ wrote:No. Start over, take the GRE, go to IR grad school. Start readying your apps to SAIS/Fletcher/Walsh/Kennedy/etc. There is no such thing as an international law, politics or policy job involving a JD; they'll all require an IR graduate degree.

The only exception would be working for a foreign corporation advising them on US law (usually tax law), which doesn't sound like what you're interested in at all.


Thanks. As tought as it is to do, I will have to take that advice seriously and reassess some stuff at the least.


I don't want to be too negative; there are schools that focus on international law. But employers such as the State Department, the UN, etc. will all recruit from the IR schools and not law schools. My father is the deputy director of an office in the State Department, and I know from him (because I was considering doing international law) that the State Department will always prefer to hire or take as an intern a student at a top IR school over a student at a top law school, even a law school with an international law reputation. By attending law school over IR grad school, you're limiting your potential to enter into international policy fields. You can still do it if you do well on the foreign service examination, but it's an inefficient path to get there.

MPMP
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby MPMP » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:27 pm

englawyer wrote:int'l law is a myth, and it becomes even more of a myth as you slide down in the rankings.


While I agree with what has been said, I don't think a job in International Law is a myth. It's just really rare.

I had a professor this fall who was very involved in International Law. He had argued cases (or a case) before the ICJ, was cited in our International Law book, and during the semester he had to take a week off to be a part in some sort of UN conference.

That being said, I'd aim for HYS if I were hoping to be able to do this sort of thing, and even then I wouldn't bank on it.

hotwater
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby hotwater » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:33 pm

im not sure that these jobs are that rare. the un has many jobs that require a jd, as does the state department. also, organizations like the wto are full of lawyers.

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kittenmittons
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby kittenmittons » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:35 pm

reasonable_man wrote:To put it bluntly; no.

oneforship
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby oneforship » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:35 pm

kittenmittons wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:To put it bluntly; no.


To elaborate; hell no.

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Joga Bonito
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby Joga Bonito » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:38 pm

Intl law isn't a myth, its just really really really really really (you get the point) hard to get into...but its possible. Nobody knows if you'll be one of the few who actually works in the field or one of the many who didn't make it and is now depressed setting in some dark dungeon doing document review dreaming about how cool it could be. It also depends on if you mean trade/intl business/regulatory law type stuff or human rights etc. The latter is much harder to get into. Typically you need YLS of HLS to get into it and then some, although its possible without the. Nobody here knows if you will make it, so if you really want it, go after it, if not try another route. If you like policy more thats easier to get into you'll need an ma, mpa id, mpp or phd or all the above or something though.

09042014
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby 09042014 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:49 pm

Wait a Myth? I'm planning on being a war crimes prosecutor. That is obtainable from American at median right? right?

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Joga Bonito
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby Joga Bonito » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:04 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Wait a Myth? I'm planning on being a war crimes prosecutor. That is obtainable from American at median right? right?


Stephen J. Rapp Ambassador-at-Large War Crimes Issues, JD from Drake...wtf although he has a ba from Harvard.
Before that some guy from Tulane Law with no prestigous undergrad degree.

So I suppose you could get there from American.

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby LurkerNoMore » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:39 pm

It sounds like you need to take a couple of years off to see what you want to do. From your post, it sounds like you are more interested in international policy than international law.

There is a big difference between legal work that is international in flavor and "international law." The former is relatively common and can come in the form of international transaction work, international tax, regulatory work (anti-dumping, tariff work, etc.), litigation with international components (foreign corrupt practices act, alien tort claims act), etc.

"International Law" is really governed by treaties, either bilateral or multilateral, so you might look at WTO, WHO, NAFTA, ICJ, etc. However, in this field, you really want to know whether you want to do policy or legal work.

Cracking into the former category is really about gaining access to Big Law -- it is generally the big firms (or selective boutiques) that handle this sort of work. If you are interested in the regulatory or prosecutorial opportunities in this field, then you could look at the Honors Programs of various agencies as well. Both of these opportunities are most easily accessible if you are going to a top school.

If you are interested in the latter, then there are two "easier" routes to go. First, go to a top school that will open doors at these institutions. The second route would be to start "at the bottom" with one of them, then go back to law school. The connections you would make might make going to a top school less important (depending on whether your connections have any clout), and the experience would give your application a lot of credibility.

Really, law school would be my avenue of last resort if you want to pursue this. It is a lot of money and time for a goal you haven't quite defined and isn't easy to break into. Taking some time off and figuring out if you want the graduate degree or law degree is probably the best allocation of your resources.

Good luck.

cpboy77
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby cpboy77 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:37 pm

LurkerNoMore wrote:It sounds like you need to take a couple of years off to see what you want to do. From your post, it sounds like you are more interested in international policy than international law.

There is a big difference between legal work that is international in flavor and "international law." The former is relatively common and can come in the form of international transaction work, international tax, regulatory work (anti-dumping, tariff work, etc.), litigation with international components (foreign corrupt practices act, alien tort claims act), etc.

"International Law" is really governed by treaties, either bilateral or multilateral, so you might look at WTO, WHO, NAFTA, ICJ, etc. However, in this field, you really want to know whether you want to do policy or legal work.

Cracking into the former category is really about gaining access to Big Law -- it is generally the big firms (or selective boutiques) that handle this sort of work. If you are interested in the regulatory or prosecutorial opportunities in this field, then you could look at the Honors Programs of various agencies as well. Both of these opportunities are most easily accessible if you are going to a top school.

If you are interested in the latter, then there are two "easier" routes to go. First, go to a top school that will open doors at these institutions. The second route would be to start "at the bottom" with one of them, then go back to law school. The connections you would make might make going to a top school less important (depending on whether your connections have any clout), and the experience would give your application a lot of credibility.

Really, law school would be my avenue of last resort if you want to pursue this. It is a lot of money and time for a goal you haven't quite defined and isn't easy to break into. Taking some time off and figuring out if you want the graduate degree or law degree is probably the best allocation of your resources.

Good luck.


Thanks. Much more informative than "no" or "hell no."

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vlsorbust
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby vlsorbust » Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:39 pm

I agree with the folks here who told you to wait a year, or however long it takes for you to think about things a bit more.

I'm guessing you're pretty young and right out of undergrad, probably 22-ish (my apologies if that's a false assumption). Believe it or not, I was in the exact same boat about 10 years ago - same age, same interest in International Relations. Back then, I didn't have a very clear vision of the career I wanted, so I decided to join the workforce instead of applying to grad school. Law school hadn't even crossed my mind. But my work experiences (first as an au pair in Switzerland and then as an immigration specialist at a big 4 consulting firm) really helped me figure out what my strenghts and interests were, and helped me form that clear picture.

I'm not saying what worked for me must necessarily work for you, but taking time to go out and experience life for a while could help, and certainly can't hurt. Law school and grad school will always be there. But you can't get 3 years and $120,000K back if you realize you made a mistake only AFTER you get your JD.

By the way, since you mention you already got accepted, what did you write in your personal statements/essays if you didn't know why you wanted to go to law school? Not accusing, just curious.

cpboy77
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Re: Is an interest in int'l law worth the time/$ of getting a JD

Postby cpboy77 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:43 pm

vlsorbust wrote:I agree with the folks here who told you to wait a year, or however long it takes for you to think about things a bit more.

I'm guessing you're pretty young and right out of undergrad, probably 22-ish (my apologies if that's a false assumption). Believe it or not, I was in the exact same boat about 10 years ago - same age, same interest in International Relations. Back then, I didn't have a very clear vision of the career I wanted, so I decided to join the workforce instead of applying to grad school. Law school hadn't even crossed my mind. But my work experiences (first as an au pair in Switzerland and then as an immigration specialist at a big 4 consulting firm) really helped me figure out what my strenghts and interests were, and helped me form that clear picture.

I'm not saying what worked for me must necessarily work for you, but taking time to go out and experience life for a while could help, and certainly can't hurt. Law school and grad school will always be there. But you can't get 3 years and $120,000K back if you realize you made a mistake only AFTER you get your JD.

By the way, since you mention you already got accepted, what did you write in your personal statements/essays if you didn't know why you wanted to go to law school? Not accusing, just curious.


Thanks for the response. Not sure if I want to go into details about what I wrote in my personal statements. You're a little off on the age and undergrad status, but only by a year or two. I've also been offered money to attend a school that hovers around the t25. It'd be a 2/3rds - 3/4ths scholarship. If it were you, how would that affect the decision making process, as it mitigates a lot of the financial risk?




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