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Thread: Lawyers in the planning world?

  1. #1
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    Lawyers in the planning world?

    Just wondering if there are any folks out there who have earned a law degree and are now in the planning field? I've been accepted to law school but have a strong interest in planning/redevelopment/brownfields/land use/etc. I know I can study land use issues in law school and then go work for a law firm in the real estate practice group, but then I'd just be submitting zoning permits for the next big-box suburban strip shopping monstrosity. Yuck. My dream would be use a J.D. on urban renewal projects, revitalization efforts, adaptive re-use projects, etc. Any comments? Am I chasing a pipedream?

  2. #2

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    There are many people with J.D.'s who work as town managers, planning directors, planning consultants, etc. I think it is quite realistic to expect to find work with a redevelopment agency, local planning department, etc. The only warning I issue is that, while it will be a lot more fun than working for that law firm, it will not be as remunerative.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WBH
    I know I can study land use issues in law school and then go work for a law firm in the real estate practice group, but then I'd just be submitting zoning permits for the next big-box suburban strip shopping monstrosity. Yuck. My dream would be use a J.D. on urban renewal projects, revitalization efforts, adaptive re-use projects, etc. Any comments? Am I chasing a pipedream?
    Have you considered a career with a law firm that concentrates in municipal law w/ no private clients?
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    Have you considered a career with a law firm that concentrates in municipal law w/ no private clients?
    No, I haven't, but I like the sound of that. I'm guessing the "clients" of such a firm would be mostly towns and cities?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WBH
    I'm guessing the "clients" of such a firm would be mostly towns and cities?
    [channeling Phil Hartman channeling Ed McMahon]

    You are correct, sir.

    [[/channeling Phil Hartman channeling Ed McMahon]
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian spunky2's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WBH
    No, I haven't, but I like the sound of that. I'm guessing the "clients" of such a firm would be mostly towns and cities?
    Or water districts. I surrounded my more lawyers here than I would like to admit. However, I am looking into law school as well... more of the environmental lawyer route, which I'm sure is much more common.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ecofem's avatar
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    From a person with a Master's in Planning as well as a JD... and who has worked both sides of the fence...

    What Lee Nellis Said

    paying those student loans off does put a cramp in your style....
    but I tell myself that I always have several options out in the job market....
    that's what I tell myself...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally posted by ecofem
    From a person with a Master's in Planning as well as a JD... and who has worked both sides of the fence...
    i'd love to talk with you in detail about the joint degree ... i'd really value a first-hand perspective ... i don't know too much about these message boards but is there a way we can touch base "offline" or something either via phone or e-mail?

  9. #9
    WBH, I'm in the same boat as you, I want to go to law school, too. I've met and am aware of numerous lawyers in the planning/public policy area. It's not a pipe-dream.

    Since I already have a background in geography, I'm going to get a broad legal education. I could get a certificate in environ law, which is very relevant, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. Public interest lawyers don't get paid well, so I'll likely have to work in intellectual property for some years while paying off students loans.

    But, who knows, I might not go, depends what life has in store for me. It might just be a pipe-dream, afterall.
    Last edited by BIH80; 27 Jun 2005 at 11:37 AM.

  10. #10
    I like these sites:

    Duke Center for Environmental Solutions
    http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/solutions/

    Center for Health Policy, Law and Management
    http://www.hpolicy.duke.edu/

    NYU Center on Environmental & Land Use Law
    http://www.nyu.edu/pages/elc/

    Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy
    http://www.yale.edu/envirocenter/

    Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program
    http://www.law.stanford.edu/programs/academic/enrlp/

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Google "JD MRP" and see alot of schools with joint degree programs. I'm the Planning and Community Development Director in my small city, and have a JD and an MPA.

    In my opinion you can't go wrong with a law degree. Law school teaches a way of thinking that is essential in the world of laws and regulations. It also teaches you how to look things up. Way important.

  12. #12
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    How to leverage the JD?

    Otis (and anyone else), any ideas on how to leverage my legal education to get some kind of planning-related summer internship? Either public or private sector? Any advice on how to make my (as yet incomplete) legal education marketable in the planning field?

  13. #13
         
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    I'd figure out which law firms specialize in planning law, and see if they are needing a clerk. I would especially target small firms.

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