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Author Topic: JD vs. MJ  (Read 2798 times)

Steeler-Fan

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JD vs. MJ
« on: January 02, 2013, 08:01:39 AM »
I'm looking for some good advise here...

I've always had the dream of being an attorney, but I ended up choosing civil engineering as a career path. The longer I'm in my current field the more unhappy I've become. Well, needless to say the only way to fix that is making a career change.

My question is, what can I do with an MJ (masters of juriprudence) in the legal field?

Thanks in advance for any and/or all information.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 11:16:26 AM »
Well, I'm not exactly sure what you'd do with an engineering degree and an M.A. in jurisprudence. I'm not trying to be overly negative, but I don't think many jobs are looking for that unusual combination.

I'll tell you what you can't do: practice law. Most jurisdictions require a J.D. in order to be eligible to take the bar exam (California has a few unique exceptions). Most of the higher paying jobs in the legal field (those equivalent to what you probably already make as an engineer) are going to require a J.D. and bar membership.

Something like an M.A. in jurisprudence might help with landing job in law enforcement or as a paralegal, but even then some field-specific experience is going to be required (paralegals get trained and licensed, law enforcement go to the academy, etc). Personally, I wouldn't care one whit if a paralegal had an M.A. (or even a B.A.), as long as they had experience and good references. I suspect most employers wouldn't care, either. It's also possible that the degree has some academic value if you wanted to teach, but you'd still need a J.D. regardless.

Frankly, I'm suspicious of degrees like the M.A. in jurisprudence. I think they're primarily vanity degrees, which is fine if you have the time and money and want to hang another degree on the wall. I think the potential real world benefits of such a degree, however, accrue to very few people. Bottom line, if you're willing to spend two years and a bunch of money on an M.A. you might want to go for the gold and get a J.D. It is much more difficult, expensive and time consuming, but the payoff is better. With you engineering background you can do patent law, a very lucrative field. 

Steeler-Fan

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 01:19:59 PM »
Sorry, I may have explained the incorrectly... I'm looking to change my career, not try to utilize a MJ in engineering.

I was looking for alternatived to naot have to dish out 100k+ for a JD degree. I'm aware that a MJ degree won't allow me to practice and/or be licensed, but I was more less wondering what I can do with it in the legal industry.

Thanks,

Julie Fern

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 03:50:08 PM »
fundamental error here:  you steelers fan.  until that change...

livinglegend

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 05:56:36 PM »
If your dream is to be a lawyer then there is only one way to do it and that is by getting a J.D. and passing the bar. I am a practing lawyer and I honestly don't know what an M.J is I just googled it and it appears to be a degree dealing with health regulations. Perhaps this could help you land some administrator job at a hospital, but it will not allow you to represent clients in court.

Your post says you dream of being a lawyer and there is only one way to do that get a J.D. If you have any questions about law school admissions, what to expect in law school, etc there are some helpful posters on this site.

One thing I noticed was your concern regarding money and what I would recommend doing is taking the LSAT which costs $100 or so if you do really well many schools will offer you a substantial scholarship. I didn't break any records on the LSAT personally, but I received a half-tuition scholarship and they are not uncommon depending on your GPA/LSAT combination. You can get a sense of the scholarship amounts at law schools throughout the country on lawschoolnumbers.com

Maintain FL 350

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 06:52:27 PM »
I was looking for alternatived to naot have to dish out 100k+ for a JD degree. I'm aware that a MJ degree won't allow me to practice and/or be licensed, but I was more less wondering what I can do with it in the legal industry.

Right, I understand. I don't think you can do very much at all in the legal field with just an MJ.

The "legal field" is essentially comprised of attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries, arbitrators, law professors, and few others. Without a JD you're (obviously) limited to the non-attorney positions like paralegal. The problem is, I don't think an MJ would help there either. Paralegals and legal secretaries don't typically have a master's. Experience is what's required for those jobs. Arbitrators and mediators are usually (though not always) lawyers or retired judges. Again though, you have to have significant experience to get those jobs, an MJ alone won't cut it. 

One possibility might be expert witness. With your engineering background you might be able to provide expert testimony in engineering related cases. An MJ is not required to be an expert witness, but if you could tailor an MJ to compliment your engineering knowledge it might help.

I am a practing lawyer and I honestly don't know what an M.J is I just googled it and it appears to be a degree dealing with health regulations. Perhaps this could help you land some administrator job at a hospital, but it will not allow you to represent clients in court.


My understanding is that an MJ is sort of like an LL.M, but it's designed for non-attorneys. They're typically marketed as degrees that will enhance the individuals understanding of the law. They might have some use for people who work in heavily regulated areas (like healthcare). I believe there are different MJ programs focusing on different types of law.

I really question the degree's utility on a cost/benefit basis. I suppose if you work and field where you regularly interact with attorneys the MJ might help you understand the law and processes better. Is that worth the cost of tuition? Maybe, maybe not. It reminds me of the "Executive JD" that a few schools offer.

jonlevy

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2013, 08:31:46 PM »
MJ sounds like a MSLS  or MALS, essentially a Masters in Legal Studies.  I used to instruct in a MSLS program, the degree is useful to paralegals and government employees looking to promote due to the erosion of the job market which requires everyone to have some sort of MA to get to the next level..  However, unless you already have a job in the legal or public administration field, I doubt it will enhance any career propsects.  It definitely is not a JD degree and at best you would end up taking orders from some second year associate attorney. The curriculum is pretty basic and not near as intense as law school. Programs that dwell heavy on theory instead of hard skills like research and writing are questionnable.

Kim Sherman

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 03:48:14 PM »
The law education system in the US is somewhat backward (reversed) from other educational fields. In other fields, folks typically earn their Bachelors, then a Masters, then a Doctorate (PhD or EDd). In Law, after the Bachelors, you earn your JD (Juris Doctorate). To specialize in one area after a JD, lawyers may apply to a Masters in Law in that area.

So the path is: Bachelors, > Doctorate > Masters for lawyers.

Get the JD. Then decide if you want more focused training in a specialty area, and apply to the Masters.

Kim

SaraJean

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Re: JD vs. MJ
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 07:47:26 PM »
I'm aware that a MJ degree won't allow me to practice and/or be licensed, but I was more less wondering what I can do with it in the legal industry.

I'd suggest you look at books designed for people with law degrees who don't want to practice law, such as:
  • The Lawyer's Career Change Handbook: More Than 300 Things You Can Do With a Law Degree (ISBN-13: 978-0380795727)
  • The New What Can You Do With a Law Degree: A Lawyer's Guide to Career Satisfaction Inside, Outside & Around the Law (ISBN-13: 978-0940675711)
(You can probably get these books through your local library.)