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J.D.-Advantaged Job

Per the electronic NYT on June 17, 2016:

“With few leads on a legal position, (she) has set her sights on a so-called J.D.-advantaged job, such as vetting and negotiating a corporation’s contracts with suppliers.”

Assessment of the value of a J.D. degree includes expected financial return on investment, but this would not be the only measure of assessment. Academic institutions generally and program directors specifically are not experts at predicting economic prospects of degree-holders. Likely, an overwhelming majority of us (myself included) do not possess such expertise. However, there are factors that prospective buyers should consider (by way of illustration and not exhaustion):

  1. Personal goals (e.g., motivation – is it to make oodles of money and/or something else?)
  2. Political environment (e.g., trends such as deregulation can adversely impact opportunities for attorneys).
  3. Economic environment (e.g., trends such as widening income inequality can detrimentally affect the affordability of legal services).
  4. Legal environment (e.g., trends such as making more difficult class action lawsuits, reducing personal rights to privacy, restrictions on personal debts subject to bankruptcy discharge, etc. can render some legal actions more a domain for historians than lawyers).

As one that has personally and professionally benefited from the availability of J.D.-advantaged jobs, I can attest to the satisfactions inherent in both the financial and the non-financial values of obtaining a law school education (mine at Seton Hall University in Newark, NJ) and work in related fields (e.g., public and private sector investigations, enhanced due diligence inquiries, research and writing, etc.) In brief, law school is not for everyone. Though it provides a wonderful and broad introduction to the output of convergent thinking (e.g., laws, regulations, rules, and norms agreed upon by those with influence over public policy deliberation), prospective buyers with limited financial resources (i.e., an overwhelming majority of us) should consider the attractiveness of divergent thinking: If you seek a prefabricated path, then you should perhaps study something else (e.g., financial analysis), but if you are open to thinking for yourself and unafraid to adjust to changing attendant circumstances, then a law degree would prove to be an intangible asset.

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