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« Dissertation Reflection Series, Part 1: Is It Really That Hard? | Main | Should You Go to Graduate School in Philosophy? (Revisited) »

06/28/2017

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Amanda

I don't have a comment on this issue, but I just wanted to mention I am surprised that the earlier statistics did not include unknown AOS's. Why on earth wouldn't they be included? There is a big difference between placing 37% and 26%, and apparently the latter number is more accurate.

rutabagas

Craig's point seems right to me. IF the only or primary reason you're doing a JD is to have a backup plan, then I don't see why you wouldn't get your JD only once you've decided a PhD won't work out for you. I don't think a joint program generally offers tons of extra funding, but it would be a more disjointed grad school experience, I think. (I've known people who've done joint PhD/JDs and PhD/MDs, and their grad school experiences involved a fair amount of whiplash, and that was even though their PhD and professional school research was interconnected.) If it's just a backup, well, it's not like law schools are going anywhere while you're doing your PhD.

Also, I don't know you, so take this advice from an internet stranger with a grain of salt. But literally 2/3 of my friends from undergrad have gone on to become lawyers of various types, and all of them (maaaybe except one) wish they were doing something else. IF you're thinking about a JD as a backup plan just because it generally seems like a prudent backup plan (and, like I said, I don't know you or your reasons for being interested in a JD, so this may not apply), I'd encourage you to look pretty carefully into what law school/lawyering entail.

Carrie

I'll just say this about law school, since I have had a number of friends get law degrees on the post-2008 world. There are good jobs out there without coming out of a top 5 or 10 law school program, but I would make sure you understand what it is you're interested in law and why it would be a good backup program. My friends who are at big firms all came of top law schools and obsessively focused on law school. My friends who went to schools outside of the top 10 have had more varied trajectories, and although all of them are doing okay now (and are probably making around the same or more than an average philosophy professor), it's not always been a very stable road and the hours have often been very long. On joint programs: I agree with Craig that a common philosophical interest between the two programs is important--otherwise, why not do law school later if things just don't work out on the philosophy job market? Because here's the thing: unless your research interests are linked, the metrics by which you'll be judged in each program have nothing to do with one another. In other words, you may find that you end up doing half as well at each as you could have if you'd focused on one at a time. You'll be out of step with the stages of people from both programs in many joint programs, which means you may not get the cohort support that I found in my experience makes a huge difference (I am just about to defend my PhD, so I am at the end!).

Another option to consider: a woman in my cohort applied to a separate law school program in our city after her first year of the PhD. She completed it concurrently with the PhD, and did, in the end, quite well at law school. She has a very good law job now, but she didn't finish the PhD because a whole ton of law requirements conflicted with departmental requirements for qualifying exams, proposal defense, etc. and in her case, her philosophical interests overlapped significantly with philosophy of law and she was able to get dual credit for a bunch of philosophy courses, so it was really the best case. if that's an outcome you'd be okay with it, it's an option to consider. But, I suspect it's not for you. And if so, I'd think long and hard about why you really want to go to law school. If it's just a backup plan, you can always do it after the PhD, and it won't take a ton longer than doing a joint program.

UK reader

Just another data point from me backing up rutabagas: I have 9 friends from uni who went into law careers after uni (all of them at top firms, being paid relatively high salaries). 3 of them have already quit, and 3 more plan to. 3 are carrying on, although only one of these is truly happy with their choice of career. So, from my experience, lawyers themselves are well-advised to have back-up plans, since many people end up hating working in law. I'm therefore not sure I'd want law to be my back-up plan.

You might reply that all careers are ones that people may dislike and may need to activate a back-up plan to escape. That's true, but none of the other careers my friends have gone into have had anything like as high a ratio of quitters as law. Again, information from an internet-stranger probably isn't worth much, but it's perhaps worth doing what you can to make sure you'll definitely enjoy law if you ultimately end up having to do it (and, if you pursue the route you're suggesting, the chances are you will).

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