The value of a JD in Public Policy

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lionelhutz123
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The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby lionelhutz123 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:52 am

Hi TLS,

This is likely a perpetual question. I'm nearing the end of a stint in TFA and am trying to decide what my next step is. I'd like to work in public policy, ideally education related, and am debating the merits of the law school. For what its worth, I have a 3.8 GPA from a top tier UG and think I have a strong resume to boot. Assume then (as a hypothetical) that I could get into some really top notch law schools (LSAT pending, sadly...).

Does a JD make more sense than an MPP/MPA? I'm sure there isn't one right answer to this question, but I'd be curious for thoughts. I'm not keen on big law, but wonder if I got into an LS with a strong enough LRAP program that I could avoid that route.

I'd be amenable to public policy at local, state, and federal levels for what its worth.

many thanks!

lionelhutz123
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby lionelhutz123 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:16 pm

bump. please!

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Verity
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Verity » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:18 pm

don't go to law school

flcath
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby flcath » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:23 pm

Verity wrote:don't go to law school

Seriously. Walk away from the idea now, never to think about it again.

You're welcome in advance; you owe us.
Last edited by flcath on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hull_at_The_House
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Hull_at_The_House » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:25 pm

Absolutely not. Primarily the JD is a professional degree for those who want to actually become lawyers. Whereas in the past it may have been the case that would-be-policymakers could easily move into a non-legal career after gaining a JD, this is no longer the case. The proliferation of public policy degrees and the ever-increasing cost of law school makes this unwise.

I'll say this as a PPIA fellow, so a lot of my friends from that program are interested in being involved in public policy, especially education policy. The JD is virtually useless for what you want to do. An MPP is FAR more useful - will help you get relevant work experience in educational policy, networking with policymakers etc. None of which you'll get from a JD.

Finally I would recommend that you actually look at the careers of people in the education policy sector and look what routes they took to get where they are today.

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Verity
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Verity » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:26 pm

Lol, Princeton has a "MPP for JDs" program. They've apparently wised up to the growing market of desperate, jobless lawyers who are looking for something to validate their entire educations.

"Tough luck with the JD? Hows about a go at public policy?"
Last edited by Verity on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ludo!
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Ludo! » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:27 pm

lionelhutz123 wrote:I'm sure there isn't one right answer to this question


Actually there is. Don't go to law school

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Odd Future Wolf Gang
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Odd Future Wolf Gang » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:39 pm

I agree that you should go for MPA/MPP, but I know a lot of unemployed policy school graduates as well - both from top and lower tier schools (not that public policy school rankings matter much).

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Wonk
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Wonk » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:51 pm

Advice of a policy staffer: If you'd like to work in education policy from a Hill staffer/NGO capacity, I'd recommend trying to find an entry level job before going to grad school. That could mean starting as an intern but with your TFA experience, I think you would be well-positioned to get a paying job. After you've worked for a couple years and begun to make connections in the world of education policy, you can reevaluate the necessity of a graduate degree for career advancement. There are very few instances where I could see a JD being helpful.

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Hull_at_The_House
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Hull_at_The_House » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:52 pm

Wonk wrote:Advice of a policy staffer: If you'd like to work in education policy from a Hill staffer/NGO capacity, I'd recommend trying to find an entry level job before going to grad school. That could mean starting as an intern but with your TFA experience, I think you would be well-positioned to get a paying job. After you've worked for a couple years and begun to make connections in the world of education policy, you can reevaluate the necessity of a graduate degree for career advancement. There are very few instances where I could see a JD being helpful.


This^^^

flcath
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby flcath » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:55 pm

Verity wrote:Lol, Princeton has a "MPP for JDs" program. They've apparently wised up to the growing market of desperate, jobless lawyers who are looking for something to validate their entire educations.

"Tough luck with the JD? Hows about a go at public policy?"

This is hilarious.

silenttimer
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby silenttimer » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:07 pm

Wonk wrote:Advice of a policy staffer: If you'd like to work in education policy from a Hill staffer/NGO capacity, I'd recommend trying to find an entry level job before going to grad school. That could mean starting as an intern but with your TFA experience, I think you would be well-positioned to get a paying job. After you've worked for a couple years and begun to make connections in the world of education policy, you can reevaluate the necessity of a graduate degree for career advancement. There are very few instances where I could see a JD being helpful.


This.

DBishops
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby DBishops » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:20 pm

edit
Last edited by DBishops on Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Wonk
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Wonk » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:31 pm

DBishops wrote:I disagree with most of the sentiments here. Having worked as an intern for politicians and a few NGOs on Capital Hill, I can say that a J.D. is a very helpful degree to have in positioning yourself for public policy positions. The reason for this is mostly, however, because it is more of a signaling device of your capabilities. Not to say the JD doesn't impart any knowledge of public policy, it does. But to encourage someone to get an MPP or MPA is just ridiculous when most of the skills in public policy positions are a trade. Also, if anyone has a strong interest in law and wants to work in public policy, there is a large overlap of the fields, and a JD is MUCH better than an MPP or MPA (taking the Bar may be unnecessary though).

Bolded is really the only correct part of this response and why I would very strongly advise the OP to enter the field years before considering a graduate degree, whether it be MPP, MPA, or JD. I have had interns with a JD and I think it has hurt them in their entry level job search. The only places I think a JD would be a significant advantage are the relevant House and Senate committees and the counsels who write bill text, obviously.

flcath
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby flcath » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:47 pm

What does an MPP cost?

I'm sorry, I come from a field (biochem) where you make (a little) money from going to grad school, and it has always seemed outrageous to me that people will go into debt for a Master's of [anything].

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kapachino
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby kapachino » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:49 pm

Depends on what you want to do. The JD seems to be taken more seriously in the public sector. Capitol Hill is stacked with JDs.

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Lily Pad
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby Lily Pad » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:54 pm

[quote="kapachino"]Depends on what you want to do. The JD seems to be taken more seriously in the public sector. Capitol Hill is stacked with JDs.[/quote]

Bolded is true, but I know quite a few folks on the Hill with JDs who do not use them at all in their job, and feel like they wasted their time/$ getting that degree when all they needed was an MPP/MPA to be in the same position.

DBishops
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Re: The value of a JD in Public Policy

Postby DBishops » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:07 pm

Lily Pad wrote:
kapachino wrote:Depends on what you want to do. The JD seems to be taken more seriously in the public sector. Capitol Hill is stacked with JDs.[/quote]

Bolded is true, but I know quite a few folks on the Hill with JDs who do not use them at all in their job, and feel like they wasted their time/$ getting that degree when all they needed was an MPP/MPA to be in the same position.


There is a really large myth about people "not using" their JDs. I think you really mean not being a lawyer, i.e. taking the bar. An MPP/MPA can put someone in comparable debt and take even more of a long term investment as the job prospects are no where near those of a JD. Depending on what you have studied and what classes are offered at the law school you attend you can attain a comparable understanding of public policy of that of a person with an MPP/MPA. Every JD I ever worked with certainly seemed more knowledgeable, but that's anecdotal obviously...