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JD after MPP, or vice versa

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Has anyone here heard of graduates who have pursued both a T14 JD and an MPP program? If one here has pursued both, have you felt that you've gained something in the JD program that you would not have gained in the MPP program?

I've enrolled, on a scholarship straight out of undergrad, in a top 10 public policy program (~top 20 national universities, since broad reputation seems to be more important) outside of the DC area for the Class of 2018. I'm hoping for DC employment, but I've been considering the breadth of the field and my young age, especially with my interest in constitutional/international/human rights law. I'm also concerned about financial safety for family/kids in policy sector. My situation is as follows:

I'll graduate from the MPP program with no debt in my early 20s, and I'll seek employment in the DC area, focusing on the GAO and related institutions. Based on my performance on the GRE (I know it's not directly translatable, but bear with me) and my GPA, I have the numbers for Georgetown Law, and with some improvement, potentially Columbia or Harvard Law. I have hooks to make up for any admission issues: STEM major, ties to a national scholarship program, and an advanced degree (MPP). Law school scenarios are as follows:

1) Georgetown Law part-time (full time job, 4 year JD program) will lead to minimal debt (eliminated by late-ish 20s), but high pressure scenario as its placement in Big Law (a job I'll likely hate, with 80 hour work weeks, and ~80% 5 year attrition rate, but with 160k starting salaries, potential for making partner, etc.) is a bit iffy--I'll likely need to graduate at least at the median GPA on top of job work to get through this. Clerkship placement is also tough as Georgetown is a "lower T14" school. Thus, it seems like GTwn only opens up public interest work, though law PI work may pay more than employment through MPP programs. However, I'll be able to maintain my DC network and work ethic when I can't for CLS or HLS.

2) Harvard and Columbia: as higher T14 schools and as full-time programs, I'll have no trouble getting into Big Law and a much easier time getting into a clerkship. But taking the high salary job (Big Law) is nonsensical: I'll hate it, will likely get fired before loans are even paid even if I live like I would've lived on an MPP job, and Harvard/Columbia's public interest programs (Harvard LIPP, 10 year plan and Columbia LRAP, 5 year plan) are relatively painless.

The primary reasons why I'm considering law are using it 1) to take care of family life and 2) as an avenue into constitutional/international/human rights law and related politics. However, as hard as it is for me to believe, the scenarios I've worked out have made it seem like these programs have limited marginal benefit. Anyone have any input on these scenarios?

EDIT: JD-MPP dual degree isn't an option since  although my school offers one with a neighboring institution, it's well below T14. It may be even outside T50.

Edited by AAAAAAAA

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I don't know if your MPP program has a joint degree option with a law school, but it would seem like an easier plan, logistically speaking, than completing both degrees separately.

I would look into your program and see if there are courses, certificates, and faculty that tailor to your legal interests; maybe you can flesh those out without having to earn another degree.

I can't speak to earning a JD, so I can only advise some introspection into the career paths you'd really like to be in down the line. From your post, I'm not really sure how serious you are about going into the legal profession, or why you'd prioritize getting an MPP first if you really want to go into legal work.

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I agree with RCtheSS that a joint degree sounds like a good option for you. The moderators here get mad at me for some reason when I link to outside websites, but there's a U.S. News article about pursuing a JD and/or MPP based on your interests and I think it could be helpful. You mentioned being interested in human rights law as well as long-term earning potential concerns, which tells me you'd be a better fit for law school--as long as you can get a substantial scholarship. I also like the idea of you graduating debt-free from an MPP program, and working your way up the ranks of your desired field over the years. The main issue is whether or not you actually want to be a lawyer or work in a legal-adjacent field. You can't be a lawyer without an actual JD (in most states), but it isn't clear to me from your post that you want to be a lawyer. Best of luck in making your decision!

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A number of things:

Everyone I've talked to says getting is a poor use of your money and time. Most jobs will want either the analytical skill set (from the MPP) or the legal skill set (from the JD), but few will substantially care if you have both. Having isn't bad and you see a decent number of them among top positions, but that's more because a) they're older and a JD was more broadly valued 20-30 years ago than it is today, even at YHS schools, and b ) those people are over-represented among the high-achieving/striver mentality that would have allowed them to get high-level positions regardless of whether they had the extra degree. Instead, use those years to work full-time and advance into higher-level positions; use your extra time to network, build your skill set, keep abreast of your field, etc.; use your money to maintain your financial independence so you can literally take whatever job you want without having to worry how the salary might be a bit too high or the organization might not quite fit the list of accepted ones, etc.

Federal clerkships are not easy to get at CLS (6%) or HLS (19%). You should absolutely not go to law school if you're banking on getting a federal clerkship, unless you're going to Yale (or maybe Stanford). You mentioned clerkship rather than federal clerkship, so a state clerkship should be a more reasonable hope if you go to HLS or CLS (depending on your state).

None of your STEM ties, scholarship stuff, or MPP/MPA degree will boost your law school admission chances in any substantive manner.

Nobody makes partner anymore, so absolutely don't bank on that no matter who you are or where you went to law school.

How would you have eliminated your GU debt so quickly?

If you're really interested in this field, there's a few people on toplawschools.com that do this line of work. They should be able to help you out, and I'm sure they'll tell you to pick either the MPP or the JD. There's a lot of cynical assholes over there that you'll want to avoid, but you'll find good advice if you can find the right people.

 

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Decide what you want to do. The JD is not a flexible degree, despite what people like to say about it. It locks you into being a lawyer. Even attorneys doing "policy work" are limited to a finite set of tasks like writing legislation (snore), writing regulations (snore), or serving as counsel (less of a snore, depending on the dept/agency/person you're counseling). When you go to TLS (top-law-schools.com), you will get the same answer.

The MPP won't help you make bank, but you will actually learn to analyze and craft public policy. Leave the writing of actual legislation to the chumps. If you want to be at the forefront of making or implementing public policy, save the money and go for the MPP.

On May 25, 2016 at 2:13 PM, AAAAAAAA said:

I have hooks to make up for any admission issues

Uh...not really. Hooks don't count for much in JD admissions. If your numbers are a match for Gtown (the lowest of the T14), no hooks are going to bump you up to HLS. A "bump" in this case would move you up to Penn/Mich or maybe Columbia. But Columbia focuses on biglaw (80% of 2Ls are summering) and that is definitely not what you want.

 

Advice: go to MPP school and see where you are after the first summer. There is no need to plan now. You will likely find this thread hilarious after a year when you realize that if you 1) don't want biglaw, 2) are considering only for income purposes, and 3) you don't actually want to do what typical lawyers do, then the JD could be a million dollar mistake (counting opportunity costs)

Edited by MD guy

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6 hours ago, MD guy said:

Advice: go to MPP school and see where you are after the first summer. There is no need to plan now. You will likely find this thread hilarious after a year when you realize that if you 1) don't want biglaw, 2) are considering only for income purposes, and 3) you don't actually want to do what typical lawyers do, then the JD could be a million dollar mistake (counting opportunity costs)

My favorite paragraph. =) I think it's great to be planning this far out, and to have a vision for what you want to end up doing. That being said, mine evolved so many times while I was in undergrad, and even afterwards (and even last year in grad school!) that I have learned to be open-minded to a lot of possibilities that previously seemed impossible.

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Okay, so I currently work at a top 10 law firm as a paralegal, and I'm also considering a dual degree and I can hopefully give you some insight. First and foremost, I highly recommend NOT signing up for a JD unless you know what you are getting into and you know it's what you want. I've spent 3 years here because I took that long in weighing my options between law school and an MA. It's not a decision to make on a whim. I've seen so many of my friends end up miserable because they didn't think it through carefully. In that same vein, getting a dual degree is really inadvisable unless you have a very clear idea what you would use it for. 

But on the subject of dual degrees - you say it's not an option for you because the schools offered by your program are weak programs. What about an ad hoc? For example, SAIS has official partnerships with Stanford and UVA, but they've also assured me that doing an ad hoc is possible, if the other school agrees, and a number of institutions in the top 14 have confirmed for me that they allow ad hocs (though I have no idea if this policy varies by school, etc).

Jumping back to law- the general consensus here that a JD locks you in to a certain kind of career does have a lot of truth to it. It's a profession, so that shouldn't be too, too surprising. I do think having a dual degree could help overcome that a bit, but if doing international human rights law is the only way you'd be happy as a lawyer, it's a risky proposition. Could you be happy working in big law? If you go to law school and have loans, you will have to work in big law, assuming you go to a prestigious enough program to get into a big law firm (genuinely not trying to be condescending- when I asked my firm's recruiter about her thoughts on the JD, her response was 'we have a list of 15 schools we recruit from and throw the rest in the trash unless you know someone'). I see a lot of associates work here for three years and then bail, because they're putting in their sweat equity to pay off the loans. 

That's not to say that there aren't really interesting aspects of big law. I work in the International Arbitration group, and I love it. It's amazing. Even if it's not what I'd want to do forever, I could see myself being happy with it. And even if the big law hours here are grueling, I absolutely love the type of person that's drawn to this field, and really enjoy working with them. So a dual degree is something I'm considering closely. If big law is a job you think you will hate: run. Literally last November a dude in DC jumped off the roof of his law firm's building. If you do not like the people or the work, it will be hell. All this being said, you are just out of undergrad, and it seems like you're really over-planning things right now (why are you already stressing about supporting a family?). What you're interested in is pretty likely to change. I only graduated 3 years ago, and my interests have strayed from where they were originally. 

(Also, on the subject of admission 'hooks': your admission to law school is 90% LSAT and undergrad GPA - LSAC does NOT factor in graduate GPA - and from what I've seen, soft factors aren't really useful unless they're tied in some way to the legal field).

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13 hours ago, Saturnalia said:

But on the subject of dual degrees - you say it's not an option for you because the schools offered by your program are weak programs. What about an ad hoc? For example, SAIS has official partnerships with Stanford and UVA, but they've also assured me that doing an ad hoc is possible, if the other school agrees, and a number of institutions in the top 14 have confirmed for me that they allow ad hocs (though I have no idea if this policy varies by school, etc).

The vast vast majority of top programs allow their students to do whatever dual degrees they want to, especially professional degrees. For the other participating school, well, you're a cash cow so why wouldn't they want you as long as you're not too far off the path? ;)
Source: I am a prospective MD/MPP applicant. My med school does not care at all where I go for the degree but are supporting my application 100%. The MPP schools I've reached out too, it seems, can't wait to take my money. 

Edited by MD guy

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