Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Is a dual law and urban planning degree pointless?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    61

    Is a dual law and urban planning degree pointless?

    What do people with this dual degree end up doing?

    I've had my heart set on getting this dual degree for awhile, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm misguided. Two successful, experienced lawyers I've spoken to have given me the impression that having a law degree in addition to an urban planning degree doesn't open that many more doors, if your primary interest is urban planning. One of them said he wasn't even sure why the dual degree existed (granted, his area is constitutional law, not land-use or environmental). Obviously there is overlap between law and urban planning, and being able to navigate the law would be incredibly useful, but as legal issues are so localized, why not just become a planner and then learn what you have to of legal issues, or take some classes on law while studying urban planning?

    For my part, I've been interested in urban planning for a long time, and recently discovered that I find law very interesting as well. When I learned that a number of schools have this dual degree program, it seemed fortuitous. I'm interested in international development and globalization issues, particularly development in third world countries, and I thought that a dual degree in urban planning and international law would both satisfy my interests in those areas and potentially set me up to do interesting work in foreign countries. But it seems like I could possibly get there just with an urban planning degree.

    So how do you justify three more years of school and a potentially great debt? Especially as someone who intends to work in the public interest, and so probably will not be making the large salary that lawyers are famous for upon completing school.

    Any input is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2005
    Location
    chaos
    Posts
    873
    I just finished a Master's degree and am learning to navigate the ordinances and regulations that dominate the work in my current position. A law degree would probably have prepared me more for this, but I'd still be making a planner's salary (and I'd be 3 years older!). But really, if you're going into planning rather than law, spending 3 years and god knows how much money on tuition isn't really worth the payoff. In general, unless you have a specific goal mapped out that requires those two degrees, I'd say pick one (and Planning is a lot cheaper and offers aid in a lot of cases). If you decide to go into law you can always get that degree later.

    Have you thought about finding a program with an international development focus or program? My school had a program that sent students to South Asia and focused on development in several countries there. I'd try to find a program in planning that has a study abroad program that provides the kind of experience that would prepare you for what you want to do. Even if you take more than 2 years just to get the planning degree, I think that experience would be more valuable than a law degree. You could learn some more languages or create your own smorgasboard of classes that help you attain the international development goal.

    Anyway, that's my $.02.



    Quote Originally posted by urbanleopold View post
    What do people with this dual degree end up doing?

    For my part, I've been interested in urban planning for a long time, and recently discovered that I find law very interesting as well. When I learned that a number of schools have this dual degree program, it seemed fortuitous. I'm interested in international development and globalization issues, particularly development in third world countries, and I thought that a dual degree in urban planning and international law would both satisfy my interests in those areas and potentially set me up to do interesting work in foreign countries. But it seems like I could possibly get there just with an urban planning degree.

    So how do you justify three more years of school and a potentially great debt? Especially as someone who intends to work in the public interest, and so probably will not be making the large salary that lawyers are famous for upon completing school.

    Any input is appreciated.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lowering the PCI in the Hills
    Posts
    5,776
    I spent one year in law school and decided that practicing law just was not what I really wanted; maybe someday I will go back down that path.

    My advice would be to not get the law degree if you do not plan on practicing law. IMHO, it would be a huge waste of money. While you may be able to learn a few things that might be left out of a traditional planning program, you will spend countless hours and countless dollars learning things that are totally irrelevant to what you will want to do in your career. If you are working on your masters in planning and are still interested in some of the legal aspects, check to see if the school you go to allows students from other departments to take law school classes (for credit of course) as well. This will allow you to sit in on some of the classes that you find interesting and relevant to your situation without having to waste time on core classes like "the basics of maritime law" or "the history of common-law in America." Also, the credits could be considerably cheaper for you as a masterís student than what they would cost you as a JD student.

    There are quite a few students in my urban planning program who already have their JD. Generally these folks seem to work in commercial real estate development firms and decided to get a planning degree to further their law career. I have yet to meet somebody who decided to get a law degree to further their planning career.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 11
    Last post: 14 Aug 2013, 12:55 PM
  2. Replies: 3
    Last post: 30 Oct 2007, 7:53 PM
  3. Replies: 2
    Last post: 07 Aug 2007, 1:06 PM
  4. Dual degree, city planning/civil engineering?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 08 Feb 2007, 9:55 AM
  5. Replies: 5
    Last post: 20 Aug 2006, 12:20 PM