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Folks w/ advanced degrees (MA, MEd, MSW, etc.) on top of JD...did it positively impact your job hunt

Recent JD grad here, currently clerking for a judge, which I mazatec06/07/18
JD/MSW can be a good combination, particularly if you do the onehell06/07/18
Thanks, this is so helpful! I'm interested solely in JD-r mazatec06/07/18
Agree with onehell on MSW/JD; same goes for a masters in men wolfman06/07/18
"but that would not be for a JD-advantage job, but to leave mazatec06/07/18
Very true, though I will give the caveat that LCSWs can bill onehell06/08/18
Not what you're probably asking, but I constantly use a Ph.d thirdtierlaw06/07/18
Not to hijack the thread, but these by any chance M.D., J.D wolfman06/07/18
We had one we were investigating for fraud because he’d ju downwardslope06/07/18
Yes they are. I use them for competency evals. With the amou thirdtierlaw06/07/18
I remember hearing a forensic psych give a talk at law schoo therewillbeblood06/12/18
I have no idea. I have worked as an attorney but it is certa downwardslope06/07/18
"Would you jump ship from the legal profession forever if yo wolfman06/07/18
I have a finance MS. I think it helped in making the jump f kw6713a06/07/18
Also would add that I'm a bit wary of degrees that set you u kw6713a06/07/18
just to add an addendum here wen it comes to job prospect dingbat06/18/18
I guess opal is back off the mess. I dont get the point in r trollfeeder06/07/18
Good catch. Only After re-reading the OP I recognized the Op williamdrayton06/08/18
Oh, I knew who it was at once. Still stand by what I said. H wolfman06/08/18
Since your goal is to provide useful information to readers, williamdrayton06/08/18
It's an Ivy. Even if the MA were in Intercultural Transgend mazatec06/09/18
My PhD has been somewhat useful but not as much as most peop therewillbeblood06/07/18
Is it a hard science? I've heard those can be helpful for IP mazatec06/08/18
Ehh, not hard enough for IP, I think. And I wouldn't want to therewillbeblood06/08/18
I did a STEM Ph.D. and a post-doc and it has been very helpf nigeltufnel06/08/18
your degrees go to 11 blackholelaw06/08/18
My Ph.D. has scared off just about every firm where I've app gilles06/08/18
What’s it in? therewillbeblood06/08/18
I'm MD and JD. I regret everyday not being a psychiatrist. bigsal06/09/18
Not to highjack thread again, but why is that, the $ in fore wolfman06/09/18
Better hours and pay. I work more hours dealing with neur bigsal06/10/18
Thanks for the explanation. Very interesting. I keep hearing wolfman06/11/18
Dementia with psychosis is more or less the same thing in te bigsal06/12/18
I had a MBA and a CPA license long before I got my law degre nubiansage06/09/18
Nubian Sage, it's surprising that your legal background was newyorkcity06/12/18
My experience has been somewhat similar. At the application onehell06/19/18
JD and MLS qualifies you for a position as a law librarian a blawprof06/18/18

mazatec (Jun 7, 2018 - 1:04 pm)

Recent JD grad here, currently clerking for a judge, which I'll be doing until August 2019. I'll then be entering an MA program for 1-1.5 years. I'm aiming for a JD-required or JD-Advantage career in the public sector permanently. JD school is tier II and MA program is an Ivy.

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onehell (Jun 7, 2018 - 1:13 pm)

JD/MSW can be a good combination, particularly if you do the additional work to become licensed. There is a nationwide shortage of mental health professionals so while you won't make much, you'll rarely be unemployed, though it can be very difficult at first to get the thousands of hours needed to get an unrestricted clinical license (which actually has a scope of practice similar to a psychologist).

And since mental health providers often serve patients with criminal and substance abuse issues, people subject to involuntary commitment proceedings, and people reliant on all manner of public benefits, the JD is an advantage because people in that space practice at a sort of intersection between law, medicine, and the welfare state.

As to the others, it's hard to say. You didn't specify what other MA you might be looking at and an M.Ed would presumably be for a career in education. The JD won't matter much if you're looking to become a high school principal or something. They usually start as teachers and move up from there.

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mazatec (Jun 7, 2018 - 2:25 pm)

Thanks, this is so helpful!

I'm interested solely in JD-required and JD-Advantage work in the long-run and have an equal interest in direct services legal work (like what you did before going in-house) and public policy. In said MA program, I'm picking up a fourth language, and will get fellowship funding to study it.

During said MA program I'll be taking courses at the affiliated T6 law school, be active in local bar associations, and do pro bono volunteering-to stay connected to the legal community.

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wolfman (Jun 7, 2018 - 1:49 pm)

Agree with onehell on MSW/JD; same goes for a masters in mental health counselling (leading to licensure as a LMHC or LPC). I know someone with that degree combo who is a senior administrator at a state mental hospital, if that floats your boat...

I don't know what use a generic liberal arts MA would be, however. I know someone with an MA in Russian who works doing doc review and someone with an MA in Spanish who works inhouse now after BigLaw (she got the Biglaw job because she was top 10% at a T25 and a law review editor, not because of the MA).

I have thought of getting a masters in a field I am interested in, but that would not be for a JD-advantage job, but to leave law/JD-related things behind forever.

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mazatec (Jun 7, 2018 - 2:26 pm)

"but that would not be for a JD-advantage job, but to leave law/JD-related things behind forever."

Would you jump ship from the legal profession forever if you could do a masters program for free/cheap?

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onehell (Jun 8, 2018 - 12:04 pm)

Very true, though I will give the caveat that LCSWs can bill Medicare whereas LPCs and such cannot. There's no logical reason for that, and I think it's just because the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is much larger and more effective at lobbying congress.

That's not to say MediCAID and private insurance won't recognize LPCs, but that can be hit or miss, and the state standards for licensure like hours and stuff are more variable and it can be harder to get reciprocity state to state. Also, a lot of private insurers like to make their rules match Medicare as closely as possible, so it can be harder for LPCs to join insurance networks.

LPC is just a less well-established and recognized type of clinician than LCSW, which is weird because LPCs are more clinical and focused on psychotherapy exclusively rather than the social work curriculum, which is only partially about clinical work because so many social workers do nonclinical/advocacy type stuff. And LPCs train to treat everyone, whereas the social work pedagogy is pretty much exclusively focused on the very, very poor (and children/elderly).

If I had a mental health issue and had to choose between seeing an LPC or an LCSW, I'd rather see an LPC. I think it's better education, and I think what it teaches is more evidence-based. But because of stupid insurance decisions and less licensure uniformity between states, if you're picking a degree you'll probably have more opportunities with an MSW.

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 7, 2018 - 3:09 pm)

Not what you're probably asking, but I constantly use a Ph.d./j.d. and a m.d./j.d. as expert witnesses. I find that the law degree gives them more credibility with judges.

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wolfman (Jun 7, 2018 - 6:20 pm)

Not to hijack the thread, but these by any chance M.D., J.D psychiatrists and J.D. Ph.D/J.D., Psy.D. psychologists?

I know a few of the latter who are involved with forensic psych, and yes, they do make good witnesses, due to undertsanding the basics... not that they are, or need to be, great lawyers (in fact, it'll hurt the case if they think they are), but it helps for a mental health expert to have a basic undertsanding of the process and of the role of various actors in the court system...

That's interesting about them having more credibility with judges, I'll have to think about that one...

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downwardslope (Jun 7, 2018 - 6:39 pm)

We had one we were investigating for fraud because he’d just make up records without actually evaluating the person. Apparently he’d been sanctioned by SSA already and disciplined by the licensing board, but they’d found that he was okay. Then about 7 years later, he was up to his old tricks. He knew what was legally sufficient and apparently just made up the reports...

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 7, 2018 - 10:23 pm)

Yes they are. I use them for competency evals. With the amount of money I throw their way, it makes me regret not finishing my ph.d. and working as a forensic psychologist.

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therewillbeblood (Jun 12, 2018 - 9:39 am)

I remember hearing a forensic psych give a talk at law school, and he spent a surprising large part of the talk defending being a forensic psych. Apparently non-forensic psychs often find it unethical.

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downwardslope (Jun 7, 2018 - 3:23 pm)

I have no idea. I have worked as an attorney but it is certainly possible that my degree/experience in education helped me get my first job as most people working at that state agency had education backgrounds/degrees. FWIW, one of my coworkers went into education policy and got an MEd from an Ivy League school a few years ago. I am not sure how helpful her JD was in landing her the job.

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wolfman (Jun 7, 2018 - 5:17 pm)

"Would you jump ship from the legal profession forever if you could do a masters program for free/cheap?"

Absolutely, assuming it was in field that I wanted to work - and one in which there were actual jobs.

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kw6713a (Jun 7, 2018 - 7:39 pm)

I have a finance MS. I think it helped in making the jump from law practice to policy work. Also helped in understanding the finance world better than most of my colleagues.

That said, I generally believe work experience is better than a degree if you can get it. I think working at a bank or FI for two years would have been better time spent, especially considering the money aspect. But that wasn't easily obtainable during the financial crisis.

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kw6713a (Jun 7, 2018 - 7:43 pm)

Also would add that I'm a bit wary of degrees that set you up specifically for public sector work. My friends in gov't that have backgrounds only useful in government get paid much less and have few exit opportunities. If you have a passion, that's fine and you will probably be fine. If you just want to work in government and aren't picky about it, get an IT degree, health degree, finance degree, etc. so you have alternate options. Just my take.

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dingbat (Jun 18, 2018 - 10:27 pm)

just to add an addendum here

wen it comes to job prospects, it's not actual work experience that matters, but the pedigree. Work 5 years on the most complex matters in the world for a boutique no one ever heard of doesn't help, but 2 years picking your nose at a big-name investment bank opens a lot of doors

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trollfeeder (Jun 7, 2018 - 9:58 pm)

I guess opal is back off the mess. I dont get the point in retelling the same exact story with a different handle, and of course crossposting to tls.

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williamdrayton (Jun 8, 2018 - 7:54 am)

Good catch. Only After re-reading the OP I recognized the Opal-isms.

Dudes, for the love of God, please atop wasting precious minutes of your life with these earnest responses.

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wolfman (Jun 8, 2018 - 10:12 am)

Oh, I knew who it was at once. Still stand by what I said. Hopefully it's useful to the OP and maybe to others.

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williamdrayton (Jun 8, 2018 - 2:00 pm)

Since your goal is to provide useful information to readers, your point is well-taken. Having said that, I would bet Opal's MA is useless and none of the good advice here would help her. Who gets an MA right after a clerkship? What happened to the Alaska job?

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mazatec (Jun 9, 2018 - 8:03 am)

It's an Ivy. Even if the MA were in Intercultural Transgender Fat Studies or some weird crap (It's not, lol) I'd be fine and not have a ton of debt from an excellent school.

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therewillbeblood (Jun 7, 2018 - 10:00 pm)

My PhD has been somewhat useful but not as much as most people would think.

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mazatec (Jun 8, 2018 - 6:12 am)

Is it a hard science? I've heard those can be helpful for IP.

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therewillbeblood (Jun 8, 2018 - 10:55 am)

Ehh, not hard enough for IP, I think. And I wouldn't want to do IP anyway, seems kind of tedious.

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nigeltufnel (Jun 8, 2018 - 10:41 am)

I did a STEM Ph.D. and a post-doc and it has been very helpful for me, even out of IP (I'm currently in IP). While in law school, I was getting criminal law interviews, PI interviews, St. Sup. Ct. clerkship interviews all, I'm pretty confident, because of the Ph.D. I remember that the St. Sup. Ct. clerk who interviewed me for the clerkship pulled some of my STEM journal articles and was very impressed. Of course, she didn't understand a word of it but all the equations and graphs appeared impressive to her.

I think a lot of people assume that a Ph.D. means that you are smart or intelligent, so you get a lot of deference in the workplace. Anyone who has done a Ph.D. will tell you that it, in general, means that you've mastered the ability to teach yourself; not necessarily that you are smart or intelligent.

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blackholelaw (Jun 8, 2018 - 12:47 pm)

your degrees go to 11

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gilles (Jun 8, 2018 - 12:45 pm)

My Ph.D. has scared off just about every firm where I've applied.

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therewillbeblood (Jun 8, 2018 - 5:49 pm)

What’s it in?

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bigsal (Jun 9, 2018 - 5:09 am)

I'm MD and JD. I regret everyday not being a psychiatrist.

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wolfman (Jun 9, 2018 - 7:31 am)

Not to highjack thread again, but why is that, the $ in forensic psychiatry or something else? I thought you didn't want to practice vodoo medicine? I read a lot of forensic reports and it seems kind of BS unless there is a brain lesion on the MRI or something... not to mention not having any real knowledge as to how/why the drugs you prescribe work or don't work... but I do find it kinda shocking neuros aren't better paid and I suppose every specialty has issues:-(

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bigsal (Jun 10, 2018 - 5:45 am)

Better hours and pay.

I work more hours dealing with neuro patients for the same pay as my psych colleagues. Plus my patients are wayyyyyyy more sick. They block admits to psych due to tachycardia Or leukocytosis.

They are able to get my ED to force admit dementia to me for placement.

Most importantly, they get to moonlight. One guy made 200k last year doing psych as a pgy3 in my hospital with internal moonlighting. Did he work 80 hours per week every week? Yes. Did I work more hours and only make 65k? Sadly yes. Do we have a task force now for trying to eliminate all our duty hours issues? Yes. Did 70 percent of our program report duty hours violations to the agcme? Yup.

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wolfman (Jun 11, 2018 - 6:45 am)

Thanks for the explanation. Very interesting. I keep hearing psych residents have the best hours, but then you got to be a psychiatrist for the rest of your career :-(

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bigsal (Jun 12, 2018 - 7:39 am)

Dementia with psychosis is more or less the same thing in terms of treatment.

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nubiansage (Jun 9, 2018 - 11:27 am)

I had a MBA and a CPA license long before I got my law degree. Although I never actively tried to get a non-JD job outside of the private sector, I did managed to get hired through the Feds in the accounting/audit field. During the interview, they never questioned my JD or asked me about my move from private practice to federal service. However, once I got hired, management was supportive of the fact that my JD would be a persuasive factor in future management opportunities. I also learned that having a JD is also beneficial for some federal auditors who work for DOJ as well as in general where an federal auditor can be called to be an expert witness on financial audit matters.

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newyorkcity (Jun 12, 2018 - 10:00 am)

Nubian Sage, it's surprising that your legal background was not a liability in getting a non-legal position, even given your business background. How long did you practice law before re-entering into audit?

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onehell (Jun 19, 2018 - 12:15 pm)

My experience has been somewhat similar. At the application stage, the JD is sometimes irrelevant like you experienced, and sometimes it actively hurts you and that's frustrating. But once you're in, people start to recognize that the skillset is relevant to more than just practicing law. One thing I have noticed, for example, is that it is getting more and more difficult to find people who can write well. Once upon a time you could rely on a bachelors degree for that, but the undergraduate curriculum at Directional State Universities has been so dumbed down lately that I have seen a lot of BAs who can barely write a coherent sentence.

That said, you have to be careful to turn off certain lawyer instincts, like questioning authority, expecting people to cite their source for everything, and answering questions with lengthy reasoning and ambiguous conclusions like "On the one hand X, but on the other hand Y." Normal people simply don't think like that, and as much as we malign the law school curriculum for its very real lack of practicality, my experience has been that it really does change the way you think in a way that, when dealing with regular humans, is not always for the better.

Basically, a JD can be a good supplement to other qualifications and experience. It can help you advance in a career you already have or are otherwise already qualified for. But it absolutely does not open any doors in and of itself outside of law practice, and you have to be able to turn off certain instincts it inculcates.

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blawprof (Jun 18, 2018 - 11:05 pm)

JD and MLS qualifies you for a position as a law librarian at a law school or a law firm.

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