(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
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Postby JimCarrey728 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:41 pm

I have decided not to go into health law. Instead, I would like to be an attorney for a town or city. I am interested in criminal law, personal injury, bankrupcy and employment law. I have a strong interest in urban planning and housing/economic development. I would like to do something for a town or city in their legal deparatment. I have applied for an internship in our city hall at their legal department.

My question is, that since I want to be mayor of the town one day, since I have a strong interest in State and Local Government.

Is it worth it to get a JD/MPA or JD/MURP (Masters of Urban and Regional Planning)? Or is it a waste of time?

The current mortgage crisis is of great interest to me. I think representing a city, or town in court would give me the skills necessary to lead an effective government. Much to that of which, many Attorney Generals have become Governors in my state.

What are your thoughts on the JD/MPA or JD/MURP?

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Postby wadeny » Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:05 pm

Both are pretty interesting dual degrees (I've considered them myself), but it sounds like you need a little more experience before taking on an extra degree like this. I mean, how did you suddenly go from being interested in health law to land use/planning law? That's a pretty big jump if you ask me.

Many, many posters on these boards seem to think they know exactly what type of law they want to specialize in (usually international law for some reason), but they often have no idea what that entails until they actually get into law school. Your interests could change so much once you enter law school, so my best advice would be to take a couple classes then and see if you're really interested in planning law. The internship sounds like a great option as well, which should help guide your decision.

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Postby iShotFirst » Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:20 pm

You dont need an MURP to do urban planning or zoning law. Its a waste unless you have prior experience in that field and even then, all you need is a JD for that type of law, or any type. Seems like a waste of time and money. Just pick one.

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Postby writerbailey » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:42 pm

I graduated law school in May 2011 and I was hired thereafter as an assistant city attorney for a fairly large metro area (roughly 6,000,000 people). I have both a JD and a masters of public administration (public policy analysis concentration) degree. I completed them via a dual degree program offered at my law school. Also, as an undergraduate, I studied public policy and mass communication (public relations concentration).

I would posit that my degree in public administration is invaluable for my work as an ACA. While it is feasible to learn the ropes on the job, my graduate degree has made the process considerably less daunting. I started my job already having a firm understanding of the structure of local government (city and state) as well as, from a policy perspective, the purpose and functionality of ordinances, various city policies, and the interconnected roles of different departments within a city. As an ACA I am tasked with the job of providing legal advice to various city departments with regards to external communications and internal policies, some trial activities (though not very often), and occasionally I argue cases on behalf of the city and/or its departments before state and sometimes federal administrative boards. That being said, assistant city attorneys in a large city are generally placed in positions that emphasis their unique talents and it is possible for each attorney to have different tasks and responsibilities. Work as an assistant city attorney is more about teamwork and less about individual leadership. If you're considering a stint as a city mayor, I would suggest that you consider a different role within local government (outside of the city attorney's role) to provide you with the necessary tools to be an effective and successful leader--but that's just a suggestion.

In response to your concerns about zoning, planning, and MURP, there are a few attorneys in my department who work on zoning and planning issues in the city. I am not sure that any of them have a degree in urban and regional planning. Moreover, I would imagine that with that combination of degrees you would either focus on one or the other. In other words, you would practice as an attorney that happened to have a MURP or you would practice as an urban and regional planner that happened to have a law degree. To that point, I would hold that the two degrees are probably mutually exclusive; however, I am not an expert.

My recommendation would be to just find something that interests you and pursue it. You need not worry about any additional degrees because most of what you learn is on the job and not necessarily in the classroom. Notwithstanding, additional education never hurts, but you have to consider the additional costs in terms of time and money. I attended a public university for both undergraduate and graduate/professional school and enrolled in a dual degree program that allowed me to obtain a JD and MPA in four years. Moreover, my education was mostly paid for via scholarships and grants from both the law school and the graduate school. I finished my entire college and legal education with no debt, but my situation is unusual. Essentially, not having a masters degree has little effect (if any) on your prospects for employment as an attorney and there are no specific education requirements (that I am aware of) to run for public office.

I hope this helps, I wish you the best, and I apologize if I rambled on for far too long.

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