Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
jimmyjohnson
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:53 pm

Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby jimmyjohnson » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:55 pm

Hi,

I am an undergraduate student who attends a decent public university and has a good enough GPA & LSAT score to get into a top law school at my state.

I am in a fortunate enough position to not be concerned with how much money I make as long as I make above $40k (as a freelance tutor, I've been making decent amount without much time commitment).

I like and am good at writing, reading, speaking, analyzing, teaching, and presenting/defending arguments.

Coming from a teaching background, I know that I would love to be a Philosophy professor as well as tackle the challenging process of becoming one. Another aspect of being a professor that appeals to me is not having to be in a service sector where I may experience a lot of stress due to my clients.

The only thing that shies me away from this career path is the dismal job prospect, which is between 4~15% for receiving a tenured-track position. Compounding this issue is the fact that I do not want to leave my home city, which makes this 4~15% even slimmer.

As for pursuing law, I understand that this process is tough and that the job prospect is not high either–although it is better than that of pursuing professorship.

So the question is, should I pursue law or becoming a professor? If law, which field should I pursue or avoid and why? I am open to any field as long as it has a reasonable job prospect and does not entail agonizing stress level (i.e. having to deal with unreasonable customers who refuse to pay or put you through mental hell). Thank you for your insight.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 29267
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:05 pm

If you want any hope at getting a tenure-track job in philosophy, you have to be willing to go anywhere to any job in the country. And even then your chances are terrible.

But beyond that (which you already know), these days being a professor actually probably does entail being "in a service sector where I may experience a lot of stress due to my clients." The idea that students are customers is strongly entrenched in many/most institutions these days and students can impose PLENTY of stress on you, in part because they see you as providing a service to them.

I don't know that you should go to law school because becoming a philosophy professor is a terrible idea, but becoming a philosophy professor is a terrible idea.

Platopus
Posts: 1468
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:20 pm

Re: Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby Platopus » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:23 pm

.
Last edited by Platopus on Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
KENYADIGG1T
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:23 pm

Re: Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:47 pm

jimmyjohnson wrote:Hi,

I am an undergraduate student who attends a decent public university and has a good enough GPA & LSAT score to get into a top law school at my state.

I am in a fortunate enough position to not be concerned with how much money I make as long as I make above $40k (as a freelance tutor, I've been making decent amount without much time commitment).

I like and am good at writing, reading, speaking, analyzing, teaching, and presenting/defending arguments.

Coming from a teaching background, I know that I would love to be a Philosophy professor as well as tackle the challenging process of becoming one. Another aspect of being a professor that appeals to me is not having to be in a service sector where I may experience a lot of stress due to my clients.

The only thing that shies me away from this career path is the dismal job prospect, which is between 4~15% for receiving a tenured-track position. Compounding this issue is the fact that I do not want to leave my home city, which makes this 4~15% even slimmer.

As for pursuing law, I understand that this process is tough and that the job prospect is not high either–although it is better than that of pursuing professorship.

So the question is, should I pursue law or becoming a professor? If law, which field should I pursue or avoid and why? I am open to any field as long as it has a reasonable job prospect and does not entail agonizing stress level (i.e. having to deal with unreasonable customers who refuse to pay or put you through mental hell). Thank you for your insight.


FINALLY SOMETHING I AM UNIQUELY FIT TO ANSWER! Buckle up, kiddo!

I'm glad you're aware at this point that the job market is dismal for TT jobs. This played a role in how I decided among PhD programs (in philosophy, poli sci, and an interdisciplinary program that I now attend). Something that should not be outside of the realm of possibility, (and this depends on your research interests) is applying to political theory/interdisciplinary programs. I concluded that if the job market was going to be bad no matter what discipline I chose, then I can choose the one where my research interests are best supported. I was trained as a philosopher in undergrad, I do philosophy now, but I am not in a philosophy PhD program. That meant that my chances at a philosophy job was slimmer than slim, but hey, I get to do the work that is intellectually stimulating.

Also think about doing a JD/PhD, and entering legal academia. I figured I should take this route, make more money, have more reasonable job prospects, and maybe snag a courtesy appointment at a philosophy department down the road--we'll see how that works out. Also note that some schools fund both degrees (Northwestern is one that sticks out for me, as my program loses a lot of students to them). You don't have to apply to both at the same time, but not doing so drastically affects your ability to have the JD funded, as in you lose a lot of leverage in negotiating away law school costs. You also have to be willing to give away your 20s lol.

Anyway, I'll stop there. I'm more than happy to answer other questions.

EDIT: I want to add to what Platopus just said. Having been around non-tenured philosophy faculty, their professional lives are hell. You'll probably be stuck with advising undergrads (which I love to do as a TA now) but I also don't have publishing pressure. From speaking with a lot of law profs, the pressure to publish isn't as high for them--the pressure to teach well is, however. Also, I don't know if you are a URM, but in general, junior faculty of color (in any discipline) usually burn out quicker due to service demands where their identity is tokenized. Something else to note.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 29267
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:20 am

I’m not sure that doing a JD/PhD really results in more reasonable job prospects. Maybe slightly more reasonable than the PhD alone; less reasonable than almost any other actual legal jobs. You sound like you have a good handle on it but it’s not a route I’d recommend lightly.

mcmand
Posts: 736
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby mcmand » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:14 am

jimmyjohnson wrote:If law, which field should I pursue or avoid and why? I am open to any field as long as it has a reasonable job prospect and does not entail agonizing stress level (i.e. having to deal with unreasonable customers who refuse to pay or put you through mental hell). Thank you for your insight.


Isn't this most clients?

User avatar
chrysippusofsoli
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:32 pm

Re: Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby chrysippusofsoli » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:40 pm

jimmyjohnson wrote:Hi,

I am an undergraduate student who attends a decent public university and has a good enough GPA & LSAT score to get into a top law school at my state.

I am in a fortunate enough position to not be concerned with how much money I make as long as I make above $40k (as a freelance tutor, I've been making decent amount without much time commitment).

I like and am good at writing, reading, speaking, analyzing, teaching, and presenting/defending arguments.

Coming from a teaching background, I know that I would love to be a Philosophy professor as well as tackle the challenging process of becoming one. Another aspect of being a professor that appeals to me is not having to be in a service sector where I may experience a lot of stress due to my clients.

The only thing that shies me away from this career path is the dismal job prospect, which is between 4~15% for receiving a tenured-track position. Compounding this issue is the fact that I do not want to leave my home city, which makes this 4~15% even slimmer.

As for pursuing law, I understand that this process is tough and that the job prospect is not high either–although it is better than that of pursuing professorship.

So the question is, should I pursue law or becoming a professor? If law, which field should I pursue or avoid and why? I am open to any field as long as it has a reasonable job prospect and does not entail agonizing stress level (i.e. having to deal with unreasonable customers who refuse to pay or put you through mental hell). Thank you for your insight.


Lots of valid points raised in this thread so far. I'll add that if, at the end of the day, you still want to give philosophy a shot, but are deeply unsure that you want to spend the rest of your life in academic philosophy, a good trial run would be a fully-paid for masters program - I'm thinking here of departments like Tufts or the University of Toronto, which have a good track record in placing grads in excellent PhD programs afterwards. If you're still as passionate about philosophy after completing that degree, then go for it. If you are unsure at that point, it's still not too late to come back to law school. Note the importance of the adjective "fully-paid for" - please don't incur a single cent of debt for philosophy grad school.

Good luck!

User avatar
FN-2187
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:32 pm

Re: Pursuing Law vs Professor in Philosophy

Postby FN-2187 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:53 pm

chrysippusofsoli wrote:
Lots of valid points raised in this thread so far. I'll add that if, at the end of the day, you still want to give philosophy a shot, but are deeply unsure that you want to spend the rest of your life in academic philosophy, a good trial run would be a fully-paid for masters program - I'm thinking here of departments like Tufts or the University of Toronto, which have a good track record in placing grads in excellent PhD programs afterwards. If you're still as passionate about philosophy after completing that degree, then go for it. If you are unsure at that point, it's still not too late to come back to law school. Note the importance of the adjective "fully-paid for" - please don't incur a single cent of debt for philosophy grad school.

Good luck!


I second this all the way. I couldn't decide between applying to a PhD program or becoming a lawyer (notice I didn't say becoming a professor and becoming a lawyer). Ultimately, I chose to pursue a terminal MA degree.

The way I came to this decision was knowing that good MA/PhD program can be fully funded. It's easier to go to law school after a PhD—if you realize that's the path you want to pursue—rather than obtaining JD, and all the debt that comes with it, and then spending another 4-6 years in a PhD program with no guarantees of ever becoming a tenure-track professor.

Therefore, I applied to a fully-funded terminal MA program and at the end of my first year, after learning more about how to job prospects and what an assistant professor actually does, I decided that I did not actually want to do a PhD and am applying to law school now.




Return to “Law School FAQ”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests