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ron177

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History PhD w/ some interest in law
« on: December 28, 2011, 11:07:38 AM »
I'm a PhD candidate in history and about to finish my dissertation in an ivy league university. I have also just received a job offer (a tenure-track assistant professorship in history) from a Midwestern university. The starting salary and the benefits for this job are rather disappointing. We're talking about $50,000 a year. This has made me think of alternative careers. I wonder if people on this forum can help me with the following questions:

1. how is the job market for lawyers these days? is it true that things aren't really good for even those who graduate from top universities?

2. is anyone out there with a PhD in history who transitioned to law? if so, what are the benefits of doing this?

3. If I end up going to law school, I would be more interested in a dual career rather than abandoning nine years of graduate work (three MA's and a PhD in history). so how can I make use of my history degrees in law?

4. I should also say that I am not getting any younger either. I am 35 right now and age matters in these things as well. so do lawyers and law professors among you recommend me going back to school for a law degree?

lawschoolsurvival

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Re: History PhD w/ some interest in law
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2011, 03:42:53 PM »
I cannot answer all of your questions, but I can tell you that many first year lawyers start out in the salary range that you mentioned ($50,000). In Illinois, the average salary of a new lawyer is around $40,000. You can find slightly higher salaries if you are willing to move to a bigger city, or very large salaries if you end up in the top of your class and get hired by a big firm.

As for history and the law, I can't think of much except in the constitutional law area... perhaps research into the development and intent of the framers.

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FalconJimmy

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Re: History PhD w/ some interest in law
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2011, 05:27:19 PM »
1. how is the job market for lawyers these days? is it true that things aren't really good for even those who graduate from top universities?

I would say that's grossly overstating the problem.  Top graduates do well.  Even at my 4T, it seems like the top quarter or maybe even the top half seem to be having success finding good work.

jonlevy

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Re: History PhD w/ some interest in law
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2011, 06:58:53 PM »
I have a PhD in Political Science and am a lawyer. I practice law and am adjunct faculty.  My advice is go for the tenure track job, history jobs are even scarcer than law jobs. If you don't get tenure then switch to law. While starting university salaries are low they go up after a while, you get good benefits, a pension plan, and once you get tenure chances at free travel to conferences, sabbaticals, and a reduced teaching schedule. It also is less work than law and more enjoyable. Besides why would you want to rack up more debt or take yourself out of the job market when you could be arning money?