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Law schools and PhD programs in philosophy


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I'm starting a thread devoted to people who have applied both to PhD programs in philosophy and to law schools.  Here are some topics that may be appropriate: 

  • Have you been admitted yet?
  • What do your numbers look like?
  • Are you torn between law and philosophy?
  • Have you thought of going through law to philosophy or through philosophy to law? 
  • Do you have any resources for people who have just completed law applications? Is there something like gradcafe for JD admissions? (Or: What do you recommend?)
  • Do you think your background in philosophy helped  (or will help) you gain admission to a law school? 
  • Would you choose a top-ranked law school over a 20+ ranked program in philosophy?

A little about me:

  • I have an MA in philosophy. This is my second admissions season devoted to PhD programs in philosophy. I attended a very, very weak undergraduate institution, but I landed a spot in a highly-regarded MA program. I've always had interests in law, but I would prefer philosophy to law.
  • I applied to quite a few PhD programs in philosophy; almost all are higher-ranked, "reach" schools. I have no offers, and I'm not on any wait-lists. 
  • I applied to the top 10 law schools, plus UCLA, Cornell, and WUSTL. I applied to all of these in late January.
  • I took the LSAT just once, though I definitely should have tried again. LSAT is 169. Undergrad GPA is better than 3.9.
  • I've not heard from any of these law schools.

I'm very anxious to hear from schools. I do wonder how long I'll have to wait! I also wonder whether my applying in late January will affect my chances.

 

If you have anything to contribute, I'd love to hear from you.

 

Also, I'd like to hear your thoughts about the following sites:

I have a feeling many of you know more about all this than I do...

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

"A few joint programs can help you get the JD funded better, but they won't help your legal resume." 

 

What I meant by that is that they won't help you any more than getting the PhD first would help. Obviously the PhD would help for certain teaching and research specialties in law school. And the generous funding for joint programs at some places, especially Stanford and Penn, could keep the law school costs under control. I'd recommend the joint JD/PhD in philosophy at Yale, NYU, Harvard, Columbia, or Duke as well if they were funded, but they don't give as much information as Stanford and Penn. And admission to Yale, Harvard, or Stanford law schools is very difficult, even with your numbers.

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I made another post that I thought was good, but the site kicked me out and destroyed what I wrote. Let me just say that I don't consider UCLA law school as good an option for you as getting a PhD in philosophy. You've got to figure out why you're not getting responses from the philosophy programs. If you do figure it out, then waiting and reapplying would be far better than going to UCLA. The primary reason is debt, which requires you to find a legal job. Even if you go the public interest (PI) route, you have to find a PI job or succession of jobs, which is not so easy to do any more, and then work in PI for 10 years to get your loans forgiven. UCLA also has far worse employment options and stats than the genuine top schools, meaning the Top 3 or Top 6 from US News.

 

You could also apply to JD/PhD programs next year. With a higher LSAT, you could probably get into Penn, Duke, NYU, maybe Harvard or Stanford. You still need to attract some interest as a philosophy applicant to make that plan work. If you apply with a higher LSAT for a JD alone and get into Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, those 3 schools give some need-based aid and are worth any additional debt.

 

As far as PhD programs for next year, you could try Penn, Virginia, UCLA, Georgetown, maybe even Texas or Arizona. You have the potential to get into much better places as well.

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As far as my own plans go, it's occurred to me that I've probably blown whatever chance I had of getting a PhD in philosophy, history, political science, etc...So I'd have to study legal history, jurisprudence, or whatever interests me only within a law school. The LSAT, early admission, and the widespread acceptance of transfer admissions would at least give me a chance of becoming a legal thinker of some sort. I'm also willing to forego a specialty in jurisprudence or constitutional law, since those areas are so overcrowded and affirmatized that I have essentially no chance of making a career in them. I'm willing to study broadly in the traditional areas of law, and also to make a specialty of energy, securities, financial institutions, or even tax law. Anyone who thinks that history, ethics, economics, sociology, epistemology, etc., can't be useful in practicing those specialties is quite mistaken.

 

I have a relative practicing one of those specialties in Texas, and I think that doing well at a Top 10-12-14 school could get me hired at his firm. With good grades, a good degree, several years of practice in Texas, and a couple of publications, I might have a chance to become a professor at a law school, keep up my specialty, and branch out into any historical or ethical issues that interest me. Oh, and maybe a good federal clerkship before practice. It's not a high-probability sequence of events, but I've overcome odds before. (I've also crumpled under pressure before.)

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It's too late for this cycle, but for those interested in studying philosophy and law, Berkeley Law has an interdisciplinary PhD program (Jurisprudence and Social Policy) that allows you to choose "philosophy and law" as your major field. Some students apply to the PhD program alone. Others apply to the PhD and JD programs together.

 

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/jsp.htm

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Thanks, I think editing my posts is a great idea. I did ramble a bit, but I'm very interested in these topics and have lots of questions myself. And, of course, no one else had bothered to reply for 18 days.

 

I hope Ian finds a good path for what he's trying to do.

Edited by bigboybaruch
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Yes, there is a place like GradCafe for law school admissions. It's called Top Law Schools, and I highly recommend it.

 

As far as those links for determining your chances of admission, they do have some value, but I prefer Law School Numbers and its auxiliary site, mylsn.info. At mylsn.info, I prefer the search function to the graphing function. I've played with it a lot myself, and I'm sure you'll see much better chances than I ever have.

 

You may not realize how priceless that 3.9 GPA is, but everyone at Top Law Schools is acutely aware of that. They'll also tell you to retake the LSAT so as not to waste your GPA. You can do a lot better than UCLA, especially if you retake and reapply next year.

Edited by bigboybaruch
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Yes, there is a place like GradCafe for law school admissions. It's called Top Law Schools, and I highly recommend it.

 

As far as those links for determining your chances of admission, they do have some value, but I prefer Law School Numbers and its auxiliary site, mylsn.info. At mylsn.info, I prefer the search function to the graphing function. I've played with it a lot myself, and I'm sure you'll see much better chances than I ever have.

 

You may not realize how priceless that 3.9 GPA is, but everyone at Top Law Schools is acutely aware of that. They'll also tell you to retake the LSAT so as not to waste your GPA. You can do a lot better than UCLA, especially if you retake and reapply next year.

 

A 3.9 GPA is only good for law school admissions if it's an undergraduate GPA. Law schools do not care about your graduate GPA as they do not get ranked on that GPA. They are ranked on UGPA and LSAT scores, which is why they care mostly about those. Unless you have a masters in a hard science (which would make you good for patent law), your masters degree doesn't really count for much. 

 

Source: I worked at a top 20 law school's admission department. 

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OP stated that "Undergrad GPA is better than 3.9." That's priceless for law school, since it's much harder to raise your GPA than to raise your LSAT score.

 

With your experience, wakeupright, do you think an MA in philosophy would make a good "soft" for admission to places like Harvard, Yale, or Stanford? With so many  applicants with good numbers, they need a way to further select from that pool.

 

I read a commentary by a guy who got a PhD in philosophy at Georgetown and was writing as a law student at Yale. If I had a better GPA, I'd try to do the same thing.

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