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Thread: How much is a MURP/JD degree worth it?

  1. #1
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    How much is a MURP/JD degree worth it?

    Should I get a joint MURP/JD degree or just a MURP?? Is law school worth it?

    Has any one actually done this combination of degrees? What are the benefits, cons?

    I'm going to Virginia Commonwealth University this fall to get my master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning and I have an opportunity to be accepted into a dual MURP and J.D. through VCU and URichmond. If I pursue the joint degree, I will double the time I'm in school (2 years to 4) and double my student loans debt (pushing them into the 6 figures range...). Is it worth it? I've read a lot about how bad the job market for lawyers is right now. Will it get better? Is it really that bad? I'm not quite sure what I want to do yet, but something in land planning or development and law; maybe in D.C. What do you think?

    Lots of questions, thank you!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Versatility is always appreciated by employers and even sometimes necessary to grasp complex issues that fall between the 2 subjects.

    However those cases are rare, and 2 specialists are considered better than one average jack-of-all-trades. Unless you're getting a ride to an Ivy league school with both degrees covered, I'd stick to one degree, save your time and money.

    You can always get a certificate to get a foot in planning law or government.
    Become a specialist in a field with enough versatility to communicate and work with other specialists and you'll become more valuable than a person with abilities in both law and planning but with no real essential assets that couldn't be replaced.

    Also in both fields there are more students than positions, and way to many law schools offering promises of high paying jobs pushing students to gather debts they won't cover with future earnings.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by coleMURP View post
    Should I get a joint MURP/JD degree or just a MURP?? Is law school worth it?

    Has any one actually done this combination of degrees? What are the benefits, cons?

    I'm going to Virginia Commonwealth University this fall to get my master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning and I have an opportunity to be accepted into a dual MURP and J.D. through VCU and URichmond. If I pursue the joint degree, I will double the time I'm in school (2 years to 4) and double my student loans debt (pushing them into the 6 figures range...). Is it worth it? I've read a lot about how bad the job market for lawyers is right now. Will it get better? Is it really that bad? I'm not quite sure what I want to do yet, but something in land planning or development and law; maybe in D.C. What do you think?

    Lots of questions, thank you!!
    Don't chase after a law degree at any school unless you are 300% sure you want to practice law. The majority of practicing lawyers, including senior attorneys/partners, earn a comfortable salary but you will not pay down your student debt for years. I would read Law School for Dummies before you even start studying for the LSAT.

    Law school is VERY intense. The final exams in most law courses determine the final grade: that is a lot of stress and uncertainty. If you do a dual degree, you will go through 3 full years of hell. THEN you have to do an accelerated year of an MUP. THEN you have to study and pass the bar if you want to practice law. THEN you have to find a job: a good job that will pay down your debt after 6 months of school. Unfortunately, you can't salvage a part of a law degree. It's either all or nothing.

    There are several law firms that have planners. Some of the planners have a law degree but many of them do great work with just a planning degree. I would set up some informational interviews with planners in these companies before anything else. You might discover that you don't need the law degree especially if you are more passionate about the planning side. Again, only go to law school if you intend on practicing law. If you are uncertain, find out what you DO want to do first.

    I err on the conservative side. Assume the legal profession is going to be proliferated with even more students over the next decade. I seriously considered going for a law degree but the stress and upfront costs are too much.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  4. #4
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    Good advice. nrschmid do you know any of the names of the firms your referring to? What kind of role does a planner play at law firm?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Check out the new job listing...

    An agency in Detroit (yeah, I know) seeks a MUP to work with lawyers. Read the description to see how a planning background would fit in with their vacancy.

    Obviously I'm not suggesting that everyone interested in the joint fields apply, but it's an interesting posting. (Saw this, thought of you.)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by coleMURP View post
    Should I get a joint MURP/JD degree or just a MURP?? Is law school worth it?
    These two fields are being hit very hard by this economy. And both depend upon the economy expanding. Planning is, in large part, dependent upon stuff getting built. Seeing as there is a surplus of SFD for several years at this rate and a surplus of jobs, calculate for yourself what this means. I also have lots of lawyer friends, maybe one of them is happy about their current and future prospects. Look very, very hard before you jump in to these professions.

  7. #7
    A lawyer once told me: "think long and hard before you go to law school."

    Few mature people will tell you "don't do it!" when you ask them if you should do something. The trick in life is learning to take the hint.

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