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Author Topic: law versus policy school  (Read 1326 times)

LJ

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law versus policy school
« on: July 19, 2006, 09:58:46 AM »
Not sure if I should apply to law school or policy school...any thoughts?  suggestions?  I know law school means more loans and it would be tougher to get into a brand name school...but then law school would be a more competitive degree and it seems knowing law would be important later in policy type work as well as more versatile...

strivergirl

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2006, 10:08:48 AM »
well, this is pretty standard advice:
don't go to law school if you don't think you want to be a lawyer.
yes, the degree in law is versitile, but every lawyer i've ever spoken to has told me not to go to law school planning to do something other than practice law.  if you want to do policy, study that, and you can go back to law school later if you find you need it.
if you think, on the other hand, that you actually want to practice law but are still interested in policy, there are a lot of jd/mpp programs (although their utility is debated).  that might be something to check into.

LJ

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2006, 10:49:57 AM »
is it better to go to an okay law school or to a really great public policy school?  how much does the school name matter?

thenextstep

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2006, 11:01:34 AM »
In the policy world, the name of your school matters a great deal.  Also, so do your connections, so a school with faculty who have connections would be key.  If you want to do policy, either degree can be fine to get you there, it really depends on your background and the areas you are interested in pursuing.  Look up analysts and lobbyists in the fields you want to be part of to see what kinds of schooling they typically have.  I'm interested in policy and many of the types of work I'm interested in (civil rights, education) want people with law degrees, which I think is because there is such a heavy cross-over with constituitional issues that policy degrees would not teach as in depth.  But in some fields, policy degrees would be better.  However, I think first and foremost the name of the school will carry you in the policy world so it probably makes sense to apply to both types of programs and go to the best school you get into - though consider money as well because policy jobs often don't pay well.

Jolie Was Here

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2006, 11:12:20 AM »
I think (and this is not intended with an ounce of disrespect) that it might serve you well to get out into the world for a few years before heading to any type of graduate program.  This should help you firm up your sense of what you're interested in, as well as allow you to start making professional connections.  People who are doing policy work that you're interested in are a much better resource than a bunch of not-yet-law-students, anyway. ;)   
I was referring to your intellectual penis. Which is quite robust.

Jolie is creeping up on me. 

queencruella

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2006, 11:18:18 AM »
I think school name matters a lot in public policy. I also strongly recommend you get some solid work experience and make sure you have a high GPA, because many jobs will have a strict GPA cutoff for interviews. Basically with public policy, you're going to get a stronger business background than you'll get in law school.  My sister just graduated from a top public policy program and did it 3:2 (started it in her senior year of UG) and is having a lot of trouble finding a job, while her older classmates got amazing jobs. 

cassise

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2006, 12:02:45 PM »
If you dont know you want to go to law school, dont.

cultural_vacuum

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2006, 01:04:54 PM »
I think school name matters a lot in public policy. I also strongly recommend you get some solid work experience and make sure you have a high GPA, because many jobs will have a strict GPA cutoff for interviews. Basically with public policy, you're going to get a stronger business background than you'll get in law school.  My sister just graduated from a top public policy program and did it 3:2 (started it in her senior year of UG) and is having a lot of trouble finding a job, while her older classmates got amazing jobs. 

Sounds familiar. Someone I know just finished first year at a top 10 policy school and had trouble finding an internship. You'd be surprised how competitive it is for jobs and internships. Many people also come to policy school with amazing work experience. Several of this person's classmates already have advanced degrees, and have been in the work force for a few years as well.

Many people in Policy programs come from backgrounds in investment banking, economics, social work, education,  and consulting to give you an idea of the type of people you will up against in the job search. It seems like many of this person's classmates will either go on to get another advanced or professional degree, or work in the business sector because it is so hard to find a decent policy job that pays enough for graduates to pay off student loans.

2 years at policy school will cost you at least 100K, by the way, assumming you don't land a fat scholarship/fellowship or have other sources of funding.

EDIT: do not even think about going to policy school if you struggle with math. Most programs have a heavy quantitative focus.

LJ

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2006, 02:48:30 PM »
i've been out of school for a few years and have some work experience.  i'm actually thinking of doing a joint jd/mph or mpp/mph...so as of right now i'm leaning towards the jd/mph...i figure i would get some of the similar skills i lack in policy via a mph...while also getting the legal knowledge that may come useful later on throug the jd.  i'm just concerned about how good of a jd program i can get into and the money factor.

lots of good advice though...

queencruella

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Re: law versus policy school
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2006, 04:37:25 PM »
You may want to consider IU-B- it's very generous with law students and you may also qualify for scholarships through SPEA (the public affairs school), or think about getting a JD from Pitt/MSPPM from CMU. You may be able to the MPH at Pitt, but it isn't as well recognized as CMU.