Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School Forum

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barre777

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Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by barre777 » Thu Sep 08, 2022 10:46 am

"The achievement of a graduate degree prior to entering law
school has a negative impact. This result could arise if those who
switched fields are lemons. That is, a switch occurred because of a
perceived limited chance of success in the original field. "

Above, pg 166

Job Mobility and the Market for Lawyers
Author(s): Robert M. Sauer
Source: The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 106, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 147-171
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2990762

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Prudent_Jurist

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by Prudent_Jurist » Thu Sep 08, 2022 1:00 pm

I agree that a negative impact is possible, but I think that depends more on how you market yourself. My Philosophy MA was a significant beneficial talking point in my law school application and in interviews. My current firm really liked that I had a prior grad degree.

It also helps me create a unique public-facing profile re: generating business. Clients I’ve successfully networked with have liked that I teach a community college philosophy class on the side.

barre777

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by barre777 » Thu Sep 08, 2022 2:03 pm

Prudent, let me ask you, it doesn't sound like you were accumulating degrees just to impress a law school admissions director. However, some embrace that strategy. I have seen some people take summer sessions as an undergrad so they can graduate with 2 degrees. And the only reason they did that is because they believe it will help when they apply to law school. Didn't they only prove that Dad had money to finance summer undergrad sessions?

talons2250

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by talons2250 » Thu Sep 08, 2022 2:08 pm

barre777 wrote:
Thu Sep 08, 2022 2:03 pm
Prudent, let me ask you, it doesn't sound like you were accumulating degrees just to impress a law school admissions director. However, some embrace that strategy. I have seen some people take summer sessions as an undergrad so they can graduate with 2 degrees. And the only reason they did that is because they believe it will help when they apply to law school. Didn't they only prove that Dad had money to finance summer undergrad sessions?
I guess multiple degrees could conceivably help a 3.9+/172+ candidate get into a school like Yale or Stanford where lots of high UGPA/LSAT candidates get rejected because they aren't interesting enough or whatever. But it's a stretch.

nixy

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by nixy » Thu Sep 08, 2022 5:56 pm

Lots of people get other degrees before law school for lots of various reasons, and it’s all about who you are and what you bring to the table and how you can sell it. For instance, I think most educated people are pretty aware that the job market for advanced degrees in humanities is terrible so pretty much anyone doing one of those degrees has a limited chance of success in the original field, lemon or not. Other people do various degrees and switch to law as their interests change or it becomes clear that a law degree is necessary to follow the career path they want. There’s no way to generalize about the impact of a prior grad degree on an application.

I do agree that piling on undergrad classes to get additional degrees to impress law school admissions committees is dumb, but that’s only one very specific set of circumstances. It’s very different from, say, getting a masters in journalism or education and working in the field for 5-10 years then deciding to go to law school.

Also why on earth are you relying on a 24-year-old article? The job market for basically the entire world has changed since then.

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barre777

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by barre777 » Thu Sep 08, 2022 9:08 pm

"The structural parameters of the model, which are used to assess
model fit and simulate the policy intervention, are recovered by repeatedly solving the dynamic optimization problem and maximizing
a likelihood function that reflects choices and wages observed for
each attorney over a 15-year period since graduation."

Above from Sauer study, pg 149, referenced at top of page. The study follows attorneys from U of Mich, going back 15 years. It's hard to find a so called current study that accomplishes that. It appears to be a thoughtful study that I'd have to spend weeks with to fully understand. Also let's not forget that meaningful change at BigLaw takes decades. So I'd make the argument that what Sauer said in 1998 still has tremendous relevance.

nixy

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by nixy » Thu Sep 08, 2022 9:31 pm

I'm sure it's a great study of careers and the job market for graduates of one law school almost 25 years ago. The fact that there isn't a modern version of this study doesn't make it accurate for 2022.

barre777

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by barre777 » Fri Sep 09, 2022 7:37 am

Don't forget, the first post at the top of this page highlights Sauer's conclusion that a grad degree prior to law school is a negative. I doubt that the passage of time and changing labor markets would impact that conclusion.
If Sauer wanted to start a follow-up study in 2022, it would be completed in 2037, looking at career choices and salaries over a 15 year time window. I suppose there would be critics in 2037 asking why some of Sauer's data is old and from 2022. Well, that's how the study was designed, to look at 15 years of data.

nixy

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by nixy » Fri Sep 09, 2022 8:33 am

barre777 wrote:
Fri Sep 09, 2022 7:37 am
Don't forget, the first post at the top of this page highlights Sauer's conclusion that a grad degree prior to law school is a negative. I doubt that the passage of time and changing labor markets would impact that conclusion.
If Sauer wanted to start a follow-up study in 2022, it would be completed in 2037, looking at career choices and salaries over a 15 year time window. I suppose there would be critics in 2037 asking why some of Sauer's data is old and from 2022. Well, that's how the study was designed, to look at 15 years of data.
Actually, the passage of time and changes in job markets would absolutely impact that conclusion. For instance, journalism and education weren’t the shitshows in 1998 that they are now. An assumption in 1998 that someone with a grad degree in one of those fields is a “lemon” who couldn’t hack it doesn’t remotely address the reality that those professions have imploded in various ways and that a choice to leave a field with really bad prospects doesn’t make the person a lemon.

Also you misunderstand the basis of my criticism. My point wasn’t that *in 1998* their conclusions were bad because they were using old data. Looking at the prior 15 years of data makes perfect sense. My point is that *conclusions that were reasonable in 1998* based on the data from 1983-1998 may no longer apply 24 years later.

Again, it’s impossible to generalize about all previous grad degrees. Certainly some could leave a negative impression. Some would not. Much will depend on how a given individual explains why they have the previous grad degree. An applicant could hurt themselves by giving off the impression that they don’t really know what they want to do and so are going from degree to degree to put off entering the work world. But that certainly doesn’t describe every applicant with a previous grad degree.

When law schools describe their incoming classes they almost invariably include stats about accepted students who already have advanced degrees, as a sign of the strength of the incoming class. I doubt they’d do that if there were some accepted belief that having a previous grad degree is a negative.

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barre777

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by barre777 » Fri Sep 09, 2022 12:43 pm

I agree Nixy. If I had an advanced degree in journalism, which is now a mess, and I want to move into law, the advanced journalism degree should not be viewed as a negative. Maybe what Sauer is referring to above is the mindless credentialism that some engage in to impress admissions directors or BigLaw. Randomly stacking up degrees which often have no logical connection to each other. I think admissions directors see through this and find it foolish, yet the guy who works down the hall designing the law school website loves mentioning those advanced degrees that their students have.

The constant ebb and flow of the labor market, where some occupations become disfavored, we've know about that for centuries. So I think Sauer knew about it, yet made his bold claim anyway about a grad degree being a negative. Generally speaking.

nixy

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by nixy » Fri Sep 09, 2022 3:43 pm

barre777 wrote:
Fri Sep 09, 2022 12:43 pm
I agree Nixy. If I had an advanced degree in journalism, which is now a mess, and I want to move into law, the advanced journalism degree should not be viewed as a negative. Maybe what Sauer is referring to above is the mindless credentialism that some engage in to impress admissions directors or BigLaw. Randomly stacking up degrees which often have no logical connection to each other. I think admissions directors see through this and find it foolish, yet the guy who works down the hall designing the law school website loves mentioning those advanced degrees that their students have.

The constant ebb and flow of the labor market, where some occupations become disfavored, we've know about that for centuries. So I think Sauer knew about it, yet made his bold claim anyway about a grad degree being a negative. Generally speaking.
Sure, stacking up multiple degrees mindlessly is a bad idea (for all kinds of reasons, not just law school admissions). I don't think there are a ton of people who do that, though, so I'm not sure what prompted any of this discussion. And the guy down the hall designing the website doesn't decide what material gets posted, that's the law school admin deciding they want to list advanced degrees as a plus.

I can't read the article b/c I don't have a JSTOR subscription. The quote you give suggests that Sauer isn't offering some kind of bold claim but describing what he believes his data shows (previous grad degrees have a negative impact [on what??]) and postulating a possible reason (this "could" arise if people who switched are lemons), for which he doesn't appear to have data. None of that suggests that Sauer is somehow foreseeing the radical changes in employment practices and the economy since 1998, which are more specific than the "constant ebb and flow of the labor market." (Also, one of the opening lines of his article is that "The model assumes that these individuals [law school grads] behave as though they were solving a finite-horizon, discrete-choice dynamic programming problem under uncertainty." I cannot find a clear simple definition on what the hell that is, but I have a hard time thinking people make decisions according to mathematical equations.)

barre777

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by barre777 » Sat Sep 10, 2022 7:09 am

I think anyone interested in reading Sauer's research paper can get a free trial subscription without the need to give credit card numbers. I emailed Sauer asking for permission to send his article to a 3rd party. Who knows if I'll hear back from him.
I also don't know if I can go to the top of this page, click on private messages, and send the article to other interested TLS users, assuming Sauer gives permission. I don't know if the Moderators allow it and if the private messages system can accept such a large study document.
He does use fancy statistician jargon that's hard to understand.
His claim that the grad degree is a negative was in the context of getting a job in law, not getting into T14.

mandrewsf

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Re: Getting a Grad Degree Prior to Law School

Post by mandrewsf » Fri Sep 23, 2022 3:39 pm

If you want to go to law school anyway I don't see any reason to spend 2 years getting a degree just to have a better shot at top tier law schools. Even spending all of 2 years to get an extremely high LSAT score imo is a better use of time and resource if law school is the end goal. Not to mention that work experience is also highly regarded by law schools - plus you get paid for 2 years, instead of adding to your student debt.

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