Versatility of A JD

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Dbate
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Versatility of A JD

Postby Dbate » Tue May 18, 2010 5:31 pm

Hi, I am a college student pursuing, what some would say, is a useless major--although I certainly have qualms about that description. My major is political science (and chemistry) and I am really interested in policy or patent law. Right now law is one of a number of different possible paths that I am considering, along with a MPP. I, however, do not have a real desire to practice law in the traditional law firm sense and would instead prefer to work more so in a policy area. I know the MPP seems more applicable, but looking at some of the pay scales of graduates at even the best public policy schools I question whether or not the debt associated with the degree is worth it. In contrast, I am fairly confident that I could get some scholarship money at a number of good law schools so if a JD can achieve the same end goal as a MPP, then I would prefer to get a JD. So my question is: Is a JD a good degree to pursue for a policy career? Thanks!

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YCrevolution
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby YCrevolution » Tue May 18, 2010 5:49 pm

..

BenJ
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby BenJ » Tue May 18, 2010 6:22 pm

Generally, I would say no. For entry-level policy work, a JD leaves you overqualified, and you won't be able to get a job because of it. It is feasible to work as a lawyer for maybe five years after law school and then move into a policy field, but that does not sound like what you're interested in. There is very little you can do with a JD straight out of law school save be a lawyer (in whatever capacity).

I also rather doubt that you could get significantly more money at a law school than you could at an equivalent MPP program. And the pay scale in a policy field will be the same whether you have an MPP or a JD (in fact, the MPP might make more money because they have more specialized policy knowledge). JD salaries look higher because of people working at large law firms, not because the degree is worth more in other fields.

You could always apply to a JD/MPP dual degree program, too, I suppose. I think Harvard and Georgetown have them, presumably other schools as well.
Last edited by BenJ on Tue May 18, 2010 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JOThompson
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby JOThompson » Tue May 18, 2010 6:24 pm

No. JDs aren't as versatile as you might hope.

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beef wellington
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby beef wellington » Tue May 18, 2010 6:32 pm

This contradicts what I've seen on several other threads on this subject: that an MPP is close to worthless and a JD will open all the same doors.

notanumber
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby notanumber » Tue May 18, 2010 7:08 pm

Is a JD a good degree to pursue for a policy career? Thanks!


We need some context. What kind of policy work? What kind of salary do you 'need?'

In any case, a lot depends on where you'll be getting your J.D.

Will a J.D. from Yale or Harvard be a useful springboard into substantive policy work? Yes.

A J.D. from a random T2 school? Not as much.

procrastinator
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby procrastinator » Tue May 18, 2010 9:04 pm

MPP/MPAs are worthless. All they do is turn you into a bureaucrat.

Dbate
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby Dbate » Wed May 19, 2010 7:40 am

notanumber wrote:
Is a JD a good degree to pursue for a policy career? Thanks!


We need some context. What kind of policy work? What kind of salary do you 'need?'

In any case, a lot depends on where you'll be getting your J.D.

Will a J.D. from Yale or Harvard be a useful springboard into substantive policy work? Yes.

A J.D. from a random T2 school? Not as much.


I am mostly interested in going into social policy type things. For example, I am really interested in issues such as welfare and social services programs and would perhaps eventually work for an organization involved in either substantive policy research or even implementation.

In terms of law school, hopefully it will be a T14. I just finished my freshman year at Yale and have a 3.56, but I am definitively going to raise it.

As far as salary is concerned, luckily I am gay so I don't have to worry about future crumb snatchers. I want to live in DC so I would like to afford a nice car and apartment, which I guess would be within the 100K+ range.

I initially asked this question because I had been doing research on the differences between a JD and MPP and a source here: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/11982-jd-or-mpp said that the JD was preferable.

I am fairly new to this website, but i appreciate all the help.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby Blindmelon » Wed May 19, 2010 8:42 am

notanumber wrote:
Is a JD a good degree to pursue for a policy career? Thanks!


We need some context. What kind of policy work? What kind of salary do you 'need?'

In any case, a lot depends on where you'll be getting your J.D.

Will a J.D. from Yale or Harvard be a useful springboard into substantive policy work? Yes.

A J.D. from a random T2 school? Not as much.


Agreed. Full disclosure - I'm at law school with little interest in practicing law. I researched it to death, and while a JD is not versatile in most instances, it can be a great degree for policy/analysis. Your school must have some semblance of prestige though - and if you want to move into policy work after you graduate I STRONGLY recommend you get some work experience beyond interning. I worked in DC for 2 years doing legislative analysis (non-political - don't pigeon whole yourself) and its opened many more doors than I would have expected. This is true especially given that most 1Ls just have some lame internship with so and so Congressman.

Law school is a trade school - but depending on the school - there will be numerous opportunities (and given the economy the CDO might push you towards) for policy related work.

procrastinator wrote:MPP/MPAs are worthless. All they do is turn you into a bureaucrat.


Not true - while they're great degrees if you want to work in the government - if your MPA/MPP is from Kennedy, etc. then you'll have many opportunities at think tanks/NGOs (although it'll still be competitive) and high paying federal consulting. Just don't get an MPP from a school not known for their program (like GMU or whatever).

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holydonkey
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby holydonkey » Wed May 19, 2010 8:52 am

Dbate wrote:As far as salary is concerned, luckily I am gay so I don't have to worry about future crumb snatchers.
lol, wut?
Dbate wrote:I want to live in DC so I would like to afford a nice car and apartment, which I guess would be within the 100K+ range.
Get a JD. You're not going to find a position in 'social policy' anywhere near 100k+ for at least 15 years after graduating, if ever. If you manage to land the best possible gig in the world in government/think tank/whatever, you're looking at 40-65k.

Also, 'social policy' is a joke. Getting a MPP in Social Policy is the equivalent of getting a JD with a concentration in International Law - sounds nice, means nothing.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby Blindmelon » Wed May 19, 2010 10:05 am

holydonkey wrote:
Dbate wrote:As far as salary is concerned, luckily I am gay so I don't have to worry about future crumb snatchers.
lol, wut?
Dbate wrote:I want to live in DC so I would like to afford a nice car and apartment, which I guess would be within the 100K+ range.
Get a JD. You're not going to find a position in 'social policy' anywhere near 100k+ for at least 15 years after graduating, if ever. If you manage to land the best possible gig in the world in government/think tank/whatever, you're looking at 40-65k.

Also, 'social policy' is a joke. Getting a MPP in Social Policy is the equivalent of getting a JD with a concentration in International Law - sounds nice, means nothing.


I didn't see the 100k thing. You're joking right? You want to do policy work and make 100k? Hah! I've pretty much resigned that I will make less when I graduate than I did in my previous job. I'm thinking I'll prob start around 50k..... 100k.... hah!

februaryftw
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby februaryftw » Wed May 19, 2010 8:42 pm

I just wanted to supply context for the OP: IIRC, you are a Yale undergrad. As noted in this thread, if you couple that with a prestigious law degree--I'd say top 6 is certainly good enough, but Yale/Harvard will hold an edge here--sure you can get into policy work. Not sure what year you are in, but make friends at Yale while you are there. A Yale Pol S degree + a Harvard JD will have options in politics.

Good luck and don't mind the engineers.

Edit to add: I definitely think the JD is the superior degree to the MPP if you can get into a top JD program.

notanumber
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby notanumber » Wed May 19, 2010 9:22 pm

Dbate wrote:
notanumber wrote:
Is a JD a good degree to pursue for a policy career? Thanks!


We need some context. What kind of policy work? What kind of salary do you 'need?'

In any case, a lot depends on where you'll be getting your J.D.

Will a J.D. from Yale or Harvard be a useful springboard into substantive policy work? Yes.

A J.D. from a random T2 school? Not as much.


I am mostly interested in going into social policy type things. For example, I am really interested in issues such as welfare and social services programs and would perhaps eventually work for an organization involved in either substantive policy research or even implementation.

In terms of law school, hopefully it will be a T14. I just finished my freshman year at Yale and have a 3.56, but I am definitively going to raise it.

As far as salary is concerned, luckily I am gay so I don't have to worry about future crumb snatchers. I want to live in DC so I would like to afford a nice car and apartment, which I guess would be within the 100K+ range.

I initially asked this question because I had been doing research on the differences between a JD and MPP and a source here: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/11982-jd-or-mpp said that the JD was preferable.

I am fairly new to this website, but i appreciate all the help.


februaryftw offers great advice.

What I would suggest doing:

1) Raise your GPA and nail the LSAT. If this doesn't happen, then it makes your decision a lot easier.

2) In any case, leverage your Yale undergrad connections in D.C. to get yourself summer work at a place like CAP or Heritage.

3) Work for a year or two after graduation at a policy think-tank or congressional office (something you'll be able to do with a Yale undergrad degree and the connections you've made over summer and at school).

4) Decide if you enjoy the work enough to spend the rest of your life on it. If so, then going to a top law school (and especially Yale, Harvard, or Stanford) will be a huge asset. Especially when paired with the connections that you've already made. If your GPA/LSAT isn't good enough for a top law school, then the Kennedy school or a peer-institution will be a better bet.

There are a huge number of YLS admits in the facebook group who worked at think-tanks and for political offices. It seems to be one of the "soft factors" that they really look for. A huge percentage of the folk I met at ASW are going into politics/policy.


Edit: And yes, you'll not be making 100K for a long time, if ever. But at least top schools have solid loan repayment programs.

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thesealocust
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby thesealocust » Wed May 19, 2010 9:54 pm

oops
Last edited by thesealocust on Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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GordonBombay
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby GordonBombay » Wed May 19, 2010 9:58 pm

thesealocust wrote:The truth of the matter is a[strike]JD[/strike] 6 figure debt will [strike]not[/strike]prohibit you from doing anything you could have done without a JD ;)


Dbate
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby Dbate » Wed May 19, 2010 11:17 pm

What I would suggest doing:

"1) Raise your GPA and nail the LSAT. If this doesn't happen, then it makes your decision a lot easier."


I am going to work on the GPA thing. Right now I have a 3.56 after finishing my freshman year which, according to the law school acceptance stats from our career services office, is good enough to get into Georgetown if I score at least a 164. I am a cynic--and a potential engineering concentrator--so I doubt I will be able to pull my GPA up by that much.

3) Work for a year or two after graduation at a policy think-tank or congressional office (something you'll be able to do with a Yale undergrad degree and the connections you've made over summer and at school).


This sounds like good advice.

"4) Decide if you enjoy the work enough to spend the rest of your life on it. If so, then going to a top law school (and especially Yale, Harvard, or Stanford) will be a huge asset. Especially when paired with the connections that you've already made. If your GPA/LSAT isn't good enough for a top law school, then the Kennedy school or a peer-institution will be a better bet.


My grades are not quality enough, at this point, to get into those elite law schools. So, assuming I don't improve, would schools with lesser prestige but still good (i.e. Georgetown, Cornell) offer the same opportunities? Or is attendance at one of the above schools an absolute necessity.


Edit: And yes, you'll not be making 100K for a long time, if ever. But at least top schools have solid loan repayment programs.


When I looked at alot of the salary statistics for MPP grad schools the salaries were typically in the 50K-70K range, but I am unsure if that is due to the degree or due to the nature of the work done. Do policy jobs typically pay in that range and, if so, are there any more lucrative positions that still offer quality financial compensation? I know lobbying does but, from the research I have done, lobbyists tend to be former congressional staffers or former politicians, and I do not desire to work as a legislator.

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clintonius
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby clintonius » Wed May 19, 2010 11:25 pm

Dbate wrote:I just finished my freshman year at Yale and have a 3.56, but I am definitively going to raise it.
You should definitively use that word in your application essays and see what happens.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby philosoraptor » Wed May 19, 2010 11:37 pm

Dbate wrote:I am going to work on the GPA thing. Right now I have a 3.56 after finishing my freshman year which, according to the law school acceptance stats from our career services office, is good enough to get into Georgetown if I score at least a 164.
Nope. Those stats are way outdated. I relied on them as a guide when I was setting goals for the LSAT and planning my applications, and let's just say they were not a reliable predictor. Just a few years ago, a 3.6 and a 164 from Yale might have been enough for GULC, but not anymore. Please don't screw yourself over by focusing too much on those UCS stats. (The UCS surveys, on the other hand, are pretty interesting.)

Dbate
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby Dbate » Wed May 19, 2010 11:39 pm

philosoraptor wrote:
Dbate wrote:I am going to work on the GPA thing. Right now I have a 3.56 after finishing my freshman year which, according to the law school acceptance stats from our career services office, is good enough to get into Georgetown if I score at least a 164.
Nope. Those stats are way outdated. I relied on them as a guide when I was setting goals for the LSAT and planning my applications, and let's just say they were not a reliable predictor. Just a few years ago, a 3.6 and a 164 from Yale might have been enough for GULC, but not anymore. Please don't screw yourself over by focusing too much on those UCS stats. (The UCS surveys, on the other hand, are pretty interesting.)


The stats were from 2008. I know that the level of competition rises every year, but does it substantially change?

the lantern
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby the lantern » Wed May 19, 2010 11:43 pm

Dbate wrote:
philosoraptor wrote:
Dbate wrote:I am going to work on the GPA thing. Right now I have a 3.56 after finishing my freshman year which, according to the law school acceptance stats from our career services office, is good enough to get into Georgetown if I score at least a 164.
Nope. Those stats are way outdated. I relied on them as a guide when I was setting goals for the LSAT and planning my applications, and let's just say they were not a reliable predictor. Just a few years ago, a 3.6 and a 164 from Yale might have been enough for GULC, but not anymore. Please don't screw yourself over by focusing too much on those UCS stats. (The UCS surveys, on the other hand, are pretty interesting.)


The stats were from 2008. I know that the level of competition rises every year, but does it substantially change?


It has substantially changed the last few years.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby philosoraptor » Wed May 19, 2010 11:45 pm

Dbate wrote:The stats were from 2008. I know that the level of competition rises every year, but does it substantially change?
Apparently so. Either way, you're better off relying on general stats rather than Yale-specific ones.

tram988
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby tram988 » Wed May 19, 2010 11:46 pm

Dbate wrote:
philosoraptor wrote:
Dbate wrote:I am going to work on the GPA thing. Right now I have a 3.56 after finishing my freshman year which, according to the law school acceptance stats from our career services office, is good enough to get into Georgetown if I score at least a 164.
Nope. Those stats are way outdated. I relied on them as a guide when I was setting goals for the LSAT and planning my applications, and let's just say they were not a reliable predictor. Just a few years ago, a 3.6 and a 164 from Yale might have been enough for GULC, but not anymore. Please don't screw yourself over by focusing too much on those UCS stats. (The UCS surveys, on the other hand, are pretty interesting.)


The stats were from 2008. I know that the level of competition rises every year, but does it substantially change?

I was waitlisted at GULC part-time with a 3.96, strong softs, and a 163 LSAT. Imagine if I applied full-time? Ding-a-ling

BenJ
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby BenJ » Fri May 21, 2010 12:01 am

the lantern wrote:
Dbate wrote:
philosoraptor wrote:
Dbate wrote:I am going to work on the GPA thing. Right now I have a 3.56 after finishing my freshman year which, according to the law school acceptance stats from our career services office, is good enough to get into Georgetown if I score at least a 164.
Nope. Those stats are way outdated. I relied on them as a guide when I was setting goals for the LSAT and planning my applications, and let's just say they were not a reliable predictor. Just a few years ago, a 3.6 and a 164 from Yale might have been enough for GULC, but not anymore. Please don't screw yourself over by focusing too much on those UCS stats. (The UCS surveys, on the other hand, are pretty interesting.)


The stats were from 2008. I know that the level of competition rises every year, but does it substantially change?


It has substantially changed the last few years.


Yes, very much. A 164/3.6 has no hope at all of getting into Georgetown, except maybe to their part-time program (or if URM). With a 3.6, you'd probably need a 168 or so to be reasonably competitive and a 171 to be confident of admission.

PoliticalJunkie
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Fri May 21, 2010 12:05 am

Take the JD over an MPP. After working in a policy role in DC, MPPs can give you the same opportunities, but JDs position yourself quicker for advancement.

BenJ
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Re: Versatility of A JD

Postby BenJ » Fri May 21, 2010 12:12 am

PoliticalJunkie wrote:Take the JD over an MPP. After working in a policy role in DC, MPPs can give you the same opportunities, but JDs position yourself quicker for advancement.


However, MPP programs are generally much easier to get into than law schools. Someone who got shut-out of the T14 might well get into Harvard or Berkeley or Michigan for an MPP.




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