Law school and grad school - how bad are they really?
June 18, 2010 5:58 PM Subscribe
Philosophy major considering grad school or law school--or both. Am I insane?
posted by resiny to education (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a rising senior philosophy major. Right now I want to do either graduate school in philosophy or law school--or possibly a joint degree program. Pretty much everything I'm reading these days--for both--seems to be saying "the job market is terrible, don't do it unless you can't possibly imagine yourself doing something else--and maybe not even then."
The problem with this advice is that it is pretty ambiguous in who it's aimed at. Especially with regards to law schools. I understand that things are bad now if your plan is "go to grad school, get tenure track position at an Ivy League" or "go to law school, get a job at Big Law in NY/DC." But neither of those is really me. I'm interested in graduate school in philosophy as an end in itself. That is, I would find spending 5 years studying philosophy to be sufficiently rewarding to justify the time investment (with the assumption that I would only go on a fellowship/TA-ship that would allow me break even, or come very close). If I were to get a teaching job at the end of it, then that would be great. But I could also be happy doing grad school and then moving on to something else.
I’m interested in law school because I find the field immensely engaging. Obviously you have to study a variety of things like contract law that aren’t necessarily going to light a fire under you, but I think that I would enjoy the intellectual challenge of both law school and the legal profession. I’d be interested in making money only to the extent that I would want to make enough to pay off my debts. (See below.)
A third option I’m considering is doing both. Depending on whether or not I did it through a joint degree program, it would probably be 7-9 years of school to get the two degrees. My thinking is that after doing that my options would be to practice law, to teach law, and to teach philosophy, and with the latter two I would be more attractive than other candidates given my well-roundedness (or something like that).
(FWIW, based on my research, it seems that given my GPA and probable LSAT score (based on an official practice test I took) I can get in pretty much anywhere but the top 15, and possibly somewhere in the top 15 if I really nail the LSAT. My thinking is that I would prefer to go to a school slightly below my statistical level and get some scholarship money rather than stretch myself to go to a T-15 school where I’d be borrowing 100k.)
So my question is: is this sane? A degree in philosophy doesn’t immediately qualify you for anything specific, so it’s not like I’d be turning down A Sure Thing going to grad school after graduation. If I’m not banking my happiness on being an Ivy philosophy professor or hotshot lawyer, are law school and grad school really such bad options?