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Re: Versatility of A JD

Posted: Fri May 21, 2010 12:28 am
by yabbadabbado
Talk to actual people working in policy. An MPA/MPP is far more useful for that. The reason being is that if you go to a good MPA/MPP program, you'll have to be able to do math and you will be taking some econ classes. You'll also learn how to run through large data sets in statistical software, see how organizational budgets work and what kinds of things impact policy and political decision-making in a practical sense.

In law school, you will do none of that. Instead you'll read casebooks and listen to profs yammer on and on about obscure points of law and take some seminars that involve topics completely disconnected from reality. If you're lucky, you might get to do an interesting clinic. Number-crunching, financial math, and statistics are a big deal in policy work and if you don't know how to do those things you'll struggle to find a policy job unless you have a lot of experience in these areas before law school.

Again, I know a number of policy professionals and most of them are either MPA/MPPs or PhDs. Depending on the organization, they may have a bunch of BAs on staff as well. The average policy organization will have these people doing the bulk of the work, not JDs.

No matter what the naive 0Ls on this board say, if you don't want to actually practice law in a traditional legal setting, 99% of the time law school is a bad idea.

As far as salary goes, most policy jobs start at around $40-50K for an MPA/MPP. There are some organizations that pay a little more but even some of the most prestigious ones tend to fall in this range. It has to do with the nature of the organizations that hire for these jobs and what they can afford to pay and nothing to do with the type of degree. If you were lucky enough to get one of these jobs with a JD (doubtful), you'd be looking at the same type of salary. MPA/MPP programs do give out scholarships, but you'll need good grades, a high GRE, and some substantive work experience after college in order to be competitive.