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Author Topic: Why Law school over graduate school?  (Read 2040 times)

Findedeux

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Why Law school over graduate school?
« on: March 29, 2004, 03:57:24 AM »
I know that most law students at least briefly consider graduate school, and I was wondering what people's reasons were for going to LS instead of grad school. Is it the money, the job market, the subject matter?

mike82

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2004, 04:23:41 AM »
I've also thought about going to grad school and getting a PhD. in something, but after doing some research on it, I started leaning more toward going to law school. From what information I've gathered it is very hard to find decent tenure track positions, especially in liberal arts. Law school to me seems to offer a lot more options, and more opportunities to do meaningful work.

Aonghus

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2004, 08:38:53 AM »
To be honest, I decided against grad school because of the culture in academia.  My exposure to the political correctness and culture wars at Cal State brings me to believe that making it to a tenure track position would involve way too much brown nosing and having to put up with far too much self sensorship for me.

Take for example the recent situation I read about, and Im paraphrasing here from rough memory.  A rather obese prof at a major University was chastised by a female student in class for having far too large 'MANaries'.  Rather than taking abuse from a student he merely commented that 'it appears that you do not suffer from the same affliction', and went on to teach his class.

This student pressed charges for sexual harrassment.  The professor was pilaried.  Suspended, faced all sorts of abuse from the community.  Merely for defending himself.  He eventually committed suicide.

The University's answer was 'We hope that this event does not prevent VICTIMS of sexual harrassment from pressing charges in the future.'

At Cal State I have watched the nonsense unfold...  'Whiteness seminars', 'SUV victims day', 'Illegals are people too',
recently at UCSD, they had an anti war demonstration where academics advocated active support of iraqi insurgents.... regardless of their goals or who they were...  This is tantamount to treason.

As much as I love learning, there is no way I want to force myself to be exposed to that environment forever.  Ill spend my 3 years get my JD and get back to the REAL world.

JG

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2004, 10:23:58 AM »
I have a Ph.D. (in a supposedly "hot" field of science), and now I'm going to law school.  My thoughts:

If you're considering academia, realize that it's very tough to find a tenure-track position; if you have specific geographic requirements, it's almost impossible.  Grad schools turn out far more Ph.D.s than there are academic positions.  This is true for virtually all subjects.

Also, grad school is incredibly long.  In my field, a Ph.D. is usually 6-7 years, followed by a postdoc (3-4 years or more of making $30-$40,000).  Then, after 10 years of post-college schooling, you can start looking for a "real" job.  At that point, it's very demoralizing to realize that you may not be able to find one.  Also, by that point people often have significant others and/or children, which can limit their ability to look for jobs in out-of-the way places.  I know many postdocs who have spouses with good jobs, and it makes no sense for them to move to a small town in the midwest so the academic person can take a (low-paying) assistant professorship.

I believe the only people who should go to grad school are those who have an absolute passion for studying a certain subject and can't imagine doing anything else with their lives.  Those are the people who thrive.  If you're even considering not going, don't go.

Louder Than Bombs

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2004, 05:23:37 PM »
From what information I've gathered it is very hard to find decent tenure track positions, especially in liberal arts.

That's why jobs in academia are called 'obituary jobs'...you have to wait until somebody dies in order for a position to open up...

Chris

blizzard of ozz

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2004, 06:03:59 PM »
I thought seriously about getting a PhD in Psych or Soc. Other than Economics, Psych is one of the few fields outside engineering and the hard science where there are very good employment prospects for a PhD outside academia (Soc. isn't as good in employment though). Plus, I find the field quite interesting. I might still get a PhD, just later. More than likely though I'll finish my Comp sci coursework, collect the BS, then possibly the MS in that too (I had to drop my comp sci program to graduate in 4 years) before I pick up a PhD in anything else (I graduated with an English BA, but I took a very varied courseload).

iluvcats1977

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2004, 06:18:34 PM »
I echo much of what has been stated.  I have attended and finished grad school (MBA), and my original plan was to get a Ph.D. in Marketing, with the goal of teaching college.  I'm currently working for a university, and have kept my eyes open for the types of teaching jobs that open up.  I've been very disappointed at the lack of jobs.  I then started looking at law, realizing that I'd like to learn new subject matter, and I'd like to practice law.  As was mentioned earlier, it would take me longer to get a Ph.D. than a J.D.  After 6.5 years of college already, the duration of a Ph.D. would be tough.

stillwaiting

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2004, 07:11:11 PM »
phew Im glad I am not the only one wondering about this question! I too have gone back and forth between grad and law school. im very interested in law and wasnt too sure about remaining in acadamia post graduation (if i could even find a job)...and i think that a law degree leaves alot more options open. What about obtaining a masters after a jd ? is there any advantage to that?

JG

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2004, 08:03:44 PM »
Some more things to consider:

One thing I found really difficult about graduate school was the uncertainty.  There's no set number of years it will take you to finish and no clear set of requirements you need to meet, which causes a  background level of serious stress that's always with you.  You're not really in control of your life; you're at the mercy of your advisors and committee members, and (in science, at least) luck. 

I remember going through many periods of thinking I was never going to finish.  It's a reasonable fear.  Two of my six classmates dropped out with nothing to show for it.  I know someone who's leaving after four and a half years (with a consolation Master's) because her project isn't going well, and another who's leaving after 8 years because she and her advisor don't get along and she thinks he'll never let her finish.  All of these people are smart and hardworking, and I'm at a top school in a field that's really well funded.

Even if you do finish, I can't emphasize enough how LONG it takes.  Coming out of undergrad, I couldn't really comprehend how demoralizing it would be.  You watch all of your friends go to law school or med school (or no school), get jobs, buy houses, have children, etc., while you're still living in a studio apartment and eating macaroni and cheese.  Poverty is not as fun when you're 28.  And you can't quit, because then you would have wasted all those years; you feel trapped.  To top it off, you may not be able to find a job at the end of it.

I'm really not as bitter as I sound.  Grad school had its good points.  You're around a lot of really smart people.  The atmosphere is more cooperative than competitive.  Grades are a non-issue; your advisors just want you to learn.  Your schedule is extremely flexible.  You can sleep until noon and take a lot of vacations.  You learn a lot.  I just think that, for most people, the benefits don't outweigh the drawbacks.

Findedeux

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Re: Why Law school over graduate school?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2004, 02:00:53 PM »
These replies have been great. They seem to support the research I have done on graduate school. It seems like graduate schools abuse higher education by knowingfully admitting vastly more people per job, mostly likely for monetary purposes. The only real worry I have about law school is that it won't be as interesting as grad school might have been (which for me would have been religion,sociology, philosophy). Is graduate school as expensive as law school? Are you guys who have a Ph.D and MA going to put this to use in your law career?