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Thales

Law - Graduate Studies

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Hi everyone. I'm not certain if I'm posting this question in the right place. I understand that this forum is intended for "professional students" in law and that "graduate law students" are something of a different animal. 

 

First, a bit of background: I already have an undergraduate and graduate degree from a Canadian university. I am now in the process of completing my Canadian JD (entering third year). 

 

I'm writing here to solicit some opinions from current LLM and/or doctoral students about the prospects of a graduate law degree (employment, etc) and consequences otherwise of pursuing one. I'm worried that further graduate degrees will make me totally unemployable to any area but academia, and I have some doubts about the virility of Canadian legal academia. I'm mostly concerned because I've listened to some disparaging commentary about the legal academy from non-law academics during my time as a graduate student. 

 

Thanks!

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Hi there Thales!

 

First, congrats on your academic stamina; those are certainly a lot of degrees to have at your disposal, to say nothing of your desire to possibly pursue another!

However, I feel like I'm missing some info here...

 

- Do you not WANT to work in academia, or do you just want to keep your options open?

- If not academia, what ARE you interested in doing? (Not to priviledge academia or to imply that that's all there is, but you're right to be concerned that an arsenal of advanced degrees posits someone for that route). Why do you seemingly not want to practice?

 

I'm in a Sociology PhD program now, with an emphasis in law, and my MA is in Socio-Legal studies. I can't really speak to the post-degree employment arena as I'm still in the thick of the degree, though I can tell you that I did some policy emphasis in my MA that allowed me to hold a couple of posts in NGO policy development between finishing my MA and starting the PhD. The socio-legal program that I was in was at York, and I know that there is one at Carleton. These are new and burgeoning programs, which is possibly a positive indicatory re: your concern about the veracity of Canadian legal academia; although, the downside of being new is that there are few placement statistics (ie where people end up as far as employment). An interesting point about my program, is that it was rife with faculty who had both social science PhDs and JDs. While I'm familiar with the disparaging commentary - and it cuts both ways, honestly - this program showcased a lot of law school and graduate-level faculty collegiality, the blended expertise can be welcome.

 

That being said, I guess the major consequence might be that it's not an optimal expenditure of your time. If it doesn't contribute to an employment field that you want, and if you're sitting on some foreboding student debt, pursuit of another degree may not give you enough to justify the investment.

 

This forum doesn't appear really active on the law school front. Lawstudents.ca is an active forum, though I find people there to be a little more high-strung.

 

Anyway, I hope some of that commentary is helpful! Let me know if there's something I can elaborate on!

 

Good luck!

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I appreciate the feedback surefire.

 

To answer your question: the truth is, I've always enjoyed the theoretical rigour of academia. I also think the life of an academic is better suited to my lifestyle tastes -- albeit, I've long had reservations about the job market for humanities and social science academics. In fact, I had acceptances from both UofT and McGill to pursue a PhD in Criminology and Sociology - respectively - which I had foregone for law school.

 

While law school is fine (and a unique challenge in itself), I found that part of me regretted the choice not to do a PhD earlier. I have found that I prefer writing papers and thinking critically about issues to the rote application of legal principles to hypothetical fact patterns (which is characteristic of most of the law school pedagogy).

 

But again, I still find myself hesitant to enter academia wholesale because of my lingering reservations about the employability of most PhD graduates. I guess I was just trying to get a sense of what people thought about this. 

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I can understand you are in a state of confusion. If you are looking forward to concentrate in your law career, then you can also take some suggestion from highly knowledgeable lawyers, they will definitely discuss about their own experience. You can also learn this here now.

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