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Attention Law School Addicts: Introducing the 'JSD' Degree

At some point, a decade or two into one's legal career, you start to think that even if you don't know a fraction of everything there is to know in the legal world, you at least know the basic, structural things in the profession. For instance, you know the basic structure of the court system, the different types of law firms, the types of law degrees that are available, and so on.

Diploma It turns out that at least on that last point above -- available law degrees -- the universe extends further than I ever knew. Ever hear of a "JSD" degree?

On the PrawfsBlawg, Marc DeGirolami, an assistant professor of law at St. John's University School of Law, writes that he has just completed his JSD degree, and offers up some information and thoughts on this little-known academic option. First, DeGirolami explains that the JSD (aka "SJD" in some places) is only offered by a few law schools and is "ostensibly aimed at and designed for people who are interested in an academic legal career." He also notes that (Scambloggers, please brace yourself for this) to obtain a JSD, candidates must not only have completed a JD degree, but also must have completed a graduate LL.M. degree.

DeGirolami offers several thoughts for people considering going the distance, as he did, in the world of legal degrees. These include:

1. Go for the professors.  DeGirolami says that "by far the most important reason to do a JSD is that you want to spend a significant period of time interacting with and having your work read and criticized by teachers whom you admire and who are interested in being mentors to you."

2.  Go to write, not only to read.  If you want to get an academic position after the JSD, you must write constantly. The JSD is not "a period where you can sort of just read for years in the subject of your choice, undisturbed and at your leisure."

3.  Only go to the absolute top schools in the country.  DeGirolami says this is critical. He notes that he doesn't want to create some sort of "artificial line of demarcation here," but, well, let's just say that "Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and NYU all have strong programs in graduate legal education. "

Before you decide to cap off your JD and LL.M. with a third law degree, read DeGirolami's full post here.

Posted by Bruce Carton on May 27, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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