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Author Topic: Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?  (Read 553 times)

tryinLawSchool

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Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?
« on: July 11, 2010, 10:47:37 AM »
I have an interest in studying Constitutional law, but my fear is that I won't be able to earn any money having done that. I am not deciding to study law to become wealthy, but law school is expensive, so I will owe money when I am done. I have to consider what my employment opportunities will be, and a part of that has to be what my earnings potential is.

Anyone with information on this- I would greatly appreciate your perspective, thanks

BikePilot

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Re: Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2010, 12:00:13 PM »
Its a tiny field with a huge number of people interested in it, both academically and practically.  You might broaden your scope to general appellate litigation - still a hard field to crack, but can be done.  In either case graduating near the top of your class from a top school is almost mandatory.

Just my 2c is that most folks who think they are interested in con law are really interested in making federal policy and would be better served getting into politics, writing legislation or lobbying. 

Also note that there aren't many if any people who are general constitutional lawyers (outside of academia anyway), most will be 1st Amendment lawyers, Equal Protection lawyers or something of that nature. 
HLS 2010

tryinLawSchool

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Re: Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2010, 12:18:27 PM »
Bike, thanks- that was a help!

Morten Lund

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Re: Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2010, 02:23:47 PM »
I agree with BikePilot, and would add that you should consider the path that takes you to a practice in "constitutional law."  If you look at current high-profile conlaw types - Kagan, Olsen, Katyal, Boies, for instance - there are some common themes:  top law schools, academia, and government jobs, perhaps top law firms (see Boies).  Those are tough paths to follow.

On the other hand, there are plenty of other opportunities in constitutional law - the ACLU, the NRA, the EFF, the Innocence Project, etc., all consistently deal with constitutional issues.  So does anybody working capital cases, and many of those are done pro bono.  Free speech cases are also fairly easy to come by - all you need is a high school student with an attitude.  So, depending on what exactly you had in mind, there are probably opportunities there.

But, as you have observed, most of these jobs don't pay well.  In many cases, the paths to get there don't pay well either.  Definitely not easy.

But here is a "trick" to consider:  Many schools, in particular many of the top schools, have loan repayment programs whereby they help with your student loans if you take a low-paying "public interest" job (redundancy, I know).  This could allow you to take a minimum wage position with the ACLU, for instance, without going bankrupt right away.  You will still not be living in high style, but you would be doing what you want.

Which leads to the big asterix, of course - law school graduation is a long time away, and many people change their minds during law school regarding their career goals.  Heck, most people change careers several times after law school.  So be cautious about the eggs and the baskets, and so forth.

But good luck - some of my friends are doing what you would like to do (or other non-money-motivated jobs), and they love it.

tryinLawSchool

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Re: Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2010, 08:24:31 PM »
hey mort- thanks man, i really appreciate all the information!

Thistle

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Re: Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2010, 08:52:59 PM »
when i was a 2L/3L i worked at the municipal league, defending cities and towns from a host of con law suits.  that is another option, i loved it, learned a LOT....
non ex transverso sed deorsum


JD

tryinLawSchool

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Re: Constitutional Law? Can I do anything with that?
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2010, 06:49:01 PM »
Thanks Thistle!!