Philosophy major and future law student

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Tigermoose
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Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Tigermoose » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:12 am

My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT
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Thesaints
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Thesaints » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:16 am

Which part would be unwise: philosophy, or law school ?

mhalley
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by mhalley » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:19 am

Not everyone completes law school. Plus there is an oversupply of lawyers these days. A major that could result in gainful employment would seem to make more sense. He can always minor in philosophy. I suppose some jobs don't care what your major is. How much do philosophers make these days anyway? I don't see anyone actually working as a philosopher on this web page.

I have never been in a position to hire anyone, but I really find this paragraph from the web page hard to believe.
. Let’s face it: when you go to a job interview with a company, and you let them know that you are a philosophy major, your personal stock goes up. It shows that you are intrigued by difficult and fundamental problems, that your interests are broad, that you have a good head, and that you express yourself well. There is an aura about “philosophy” that often gives candidates a competitive edge in interview situations.
http://www.philosophy.umd.edu/undergraduate/careers

People that actually hire emplyoyees might chime in on what they think.
But further web surfing shows that I must have some bias against humanities majors, as apparently they do get good salaries.

. I think, therefore I … make money! Graduates with philosophy degrees have "higher earnings potential than many other arts and humanities-related fields," said TheRichest. Payscale reports midcareer median salaries are $84,000 for your modern day Kant or Descartes.
https://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/top-bes ... 03186.html


Stem is the way to go for a good job without law school, but you certainly don't want him to major in something he hates. Are you paying for his education?

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market timer
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by market timer » Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:45 am

mhalley wrote:I have never been in a position to hire anyone, but I really find this paragraph from the web page hard to believe.
. Let’s face it: when you go to a job interview with a company, and you let them know that you are a philosophy major, your personal stock goes up. It shows that you are intrigued by difficult and fundamental problems, that your interests are broad, that you have a good head, and that you express yourself well. There is an aura about “philosophy” that often gives candidates a competitive edge in interview situations.
As someone who does a fair bit of hiring, I would give bonus points to a philosophy major, but they'd need to have the technical chops as well. Philosophy + computer science would be a good combo, as would philosophy + statistics.

miamivice
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by miamivice » Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:03 am

I think your stepson should pursue what he is most interested in. Should philosophy be what he wants to study in college, more power to him.

There are plenty of jobs that require a college degree but are agnostic as to which major, so him getting a degree (with or without the law degree add-on) will open up doors for him.

msk
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by msk » Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:15 am

So you accept that there is a very high probability that he will study beyond an undergraduate degree. Let him major in anything that he wishes. His undergrad degree is simply to "find" himself. One niche I found that pays extremely well for lawyers is being fully bilingual. Law is about word-play. If he can play in two languages, he has a huge head start on the rest. He could also be "bilingual" in, say, engineering-and-law; but I doubt that philosophy-and-law will be very impressive. But do not under-estimate that bit about finding himself. At 18 most are never sure about life goals and targets to achieve contentment. Otherwise there will be very few people working in not-for-profit stuff. I am also amazed at how many very clever kids at age 21 deliberately opt for careers that they know will not pay well but they wish to contribute to saving the planet. I have done a lot of Fortune 500 hiring in my younger days. The lawyers I was looking for would ideally have been bilingual (company was a multi-national) and had a grounding in a STEM field. Never did find one. Settled on bilingual.

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climber2020
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by climber2020 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:34 am

He should major in whatever he wants, as long as he is certain that law school is the plan. If his grades are excellent and standardized testing scores are high, it won't matter.

I majored in music and went to medical school. I was nervous at the time because nearly every other premed majored in either biology or chemistry. Didn't make any difference in the end other than I had a lot more fun and avoided a bunch of science classes I didn't enjoy. My interviews were also easier because every single interviewer asked me questions about my interesting major choice which I would talk about for most of the interview time.

If I wasn't 100% set on medical school, I would have picked a more practical major.

rob65
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by rob65 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:48 am

I think philosophy majors tend to do pretty well on the LSAT. He'll learn to read complex material and how to make effective arguments. Consider pairing it with a more technical minor in case he decides against law school.

Niam
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Niam » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:55 am

I have worked with and hired dozens of lawyers, many of whom were philosophy students, but way more information needed.

What part do you think is a bad decision? If he wants to go to law school, few majors seem better suited than philosophy.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by WhyNotUs » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:08 am

What is your concern? Why does he want to do it?

I use my undergrad degree every day, how many people can say that? Had my choices of fields of study as I was interested in just about everything except art and foreign languages. The area of study that I chose birthed the modern sciences and ponders all of the questions that are at the heart of being a human. Proud philosophy major. Took LSAT and accepted to law school but realized that was not going to be for me. Life took me in another wonderful direction.

Basic tools of philosophy are:

understand fallacies of information and opinions presented to one and extract kernels of truth through logic and reasoning

ability to read and understand complex writings, to identify strengths and weaknesses in the information being offered, to write summary of proposals, to critique those proposals, and to offer resolutions to issues identified

develop a tool for determining right action and assess the beneficial use of that tool for individuals and societies

communicate with others regarding the utility or disadvantages of public proposals

Seem like useful tools for a young person to pursue?
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NYCguy
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by NYCguy » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:37 am

My brother and I were both philosophy majors and I would encourage my kids to pursue philosophy if they are interested. My brother has a highly successful career in law and I am doing very well in finance. We are both happy, with families and have climbed from nothing but great parents (which is of course everything) to being ultra high net worth by our 50's.

Philosophy provides excellent critical reasoning skills. It forces one to be intellectually flexible and to be able to articulate one's reasoning. Regardless of whether your grandson stays with law as a career choice, I would match philosophy graduates' abilities against kids with any other degree.

Philosophy grads also have been some of my best hires.

I wouldn't worry about it, if he is motivated and happy.
If your out-go is greater than your income, your upkeep will be your DOWNFALL.

jbolden1517
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by jbolden1517 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:45 am

Throw me in as another yeah for a liberal arts major in college assuming he agrees that this essentially forces some form of grad school. He'll read difficult books, consider complicated ideas, write lots of papers about them. He will walk out well rounded and well educated. Then he needs some professional training. So I wouldn't be too worried.

Lawyer OTOH I think he should talk to lawyers about their level of job satisfaction.

alex_686
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by alex_686 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:54 am

My roommate in college was a double major in Philosophy and Music. He is now a chip designer at Intel. He is doing very well. Another friend wound up in a mid level position in operations at a brokerage firm. It is a good job but not great.

Some points here.

Part of Philosophy borders on mathematics, in particular symbolic logic.

It helps if they are a "Renaissance Man" - having a wide interdisciplinary range of activities.

Some schools are know for turning out technically excellent students, others are known for truing out brilliant students who easily pick up on the technical stuff. So you want the latter. These tend to be small private liberal arts colleges.

Transitioning from college to the next step of life is hard. Law school would be an easy choice. Others are harder and would require a bit of the "old boys network" - so strong networking with teaches and the college's reputation is important.

Rupert
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Rupert » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:03 am

I live next door to two, young working philosophers (academics), and I'm a working lawyer. Philosophy is a great major for a future lawyer and, frankly, for a human being. I like to hire interns who were philosophy majors because it has been my experience that they are more open minded and curious and ask more probing questions than others. They help me do my job better. Learning how to think properly is quite good preparation for anything, really.

That said, law is not the guaranteed path to the upper middle class that it once was. He will have be careful which law school he chooses and do well there to be guaranteed a job that pays decently. There are many other threads here at Bogleheads about that. It makes absolutely no sense to go into debt at a second-rate law school and then finish in the middle of the class (or worse) these days. If he can't get into a top-50 school (or, preferably, better) and finish in the top 25% (at least), he shouldn't bother going. That's my advice about that. If he were to double major or major/minor in philosophy and some sort of math/science it would open up some areas of law to him that would otherwise be unavailable, e.g., patent law.

As for my neighbors the young philosophers, one of them is doing quite well with a side gig in biomedical ethics.

And just fyi: IMHO, STEM majors are over-represented at Bogleheads, and Bogleheads in general are very down on the liberal arts as college majors. Just keep that in mind as you are reading responses. Not everyone can be an accountant or a doctor or an engineer. And many people do quite well financially after majoring in history or philosophy, etc. Make sure your son understands the risks he is taking by pursuing his passions and that he is viewing the situation realistically, but don't pressure him to make a choice that will make him unhappy.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by NYCguy » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:10 am

Rupert wrote:I
And just fyi: IMHO, STEM majors are over-represented at Bogleheads, and Bogleheads in general are very down on the liberal arts as college majors. Just keep that in mind as you are reading responses. Not everyone can be an accountant or a doctor or an engineer. And many people do quite well financially after majoring in history or philosophy, etc.
+1.
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by stlutz » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:28 am

I have a history degree and work in a management position in the finance/technology field. Several thoughts:

--When you're looking for your first job, some companies won't consider your resume. But that can happen for any number of other reasons as well (e.g. recruiting only at one university, for example).

--Once you have a your first job, managers care about what you've done in your working career more than what your college major was. Career success depends more on how well you use your brain, communicate, your work habits and the like. A college major where you have to develop those things is a plus--the humanities are great for this.

--When I hire my most important interview question is, "Tell me about a time you where you were in a situation where you had to learn something completely new to be successful."

--Law is a worthwhile pursuit. However a lot of people go to law school because they were graduating from college and didn't otherwise know what to do and law school would eliminate that unpredictability. Like most jobs, law generally doesn't involve doing much saving of the world--it's generally more negotiation than anything.

--Depending upon what school you go to, the field(s) of study you settle on can sometimes depend on the professors. A lot of people ended up doing history majors/minors at my school even though they hadn't planned to simply b/c of the faculty.

--Most big choices in life are made without knowing that the results will be 10 years from now. Nobody can say that if you major in "X" that you'll have a successful career and a happy life, me included. c.f. Frost.

klw084
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by klw084 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:43 am

I have a very good friend who double majored in Philosophy and a STEM and then went to Yale for law school.

If your son is very bright, I think a double major would be something he could handle.

Having a STEM major would be a useful backup but in addition to that having a STEM major would allow him to sit for the patent bar once he graduates law school. This would allow him to go into intellectual property law / silicon valley, keeping all his doors open.

ThatGuy
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by ThatGuy » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:44 am

market timer wrote:
mhalley wrote:I have never been in a position to hire anyone, but I really find this paragraph from the web page hard to believe.
. Let’s face it: when you go to a job interview with a company, and you let them know that you are a philosophy major, your personal stock goes up. It shows that you are intrigued by difficult and fundamental problems, that your interests are broad, that you have a good head, and that you express yourself well. There is an aura about “philosophy” that often gives candidates a competitive edge in interview situations.
As someone who does a fair bit of hiring, I would give bonus points to a philosophy major, but they'd need to have the technical chops as well. Philosophy + computer science would be a good combo, as would philosophy + statistics.
Likewise, I would look favorably on a philosophy major after a candidate had fulfilled the basic requirement of having an engineering degree.

In contrast to the blurb above, this is not because I expect a philosophy major to be a better problem solver, STEM gives you that anyways. However, I would expect a liberal arts major to have better written communication skills; and a philosophy major in particular to be able to argue for their preferred solution in a more substantive manner than most STEM degree holders. This is what counts once you can perform the basic calculations needed in a job.

Despite the glut of lawyers in general, my understanding is that patent attorneys are under supplied and make good coin.
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde

alfaspider
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by alfaspider » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:45 am

Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT
I was a philosophy major who went to law school. I am now a successful tax attorney. I'd take my career over that of my engineer friends any day.

The key is that your son does well on standardized tests. He will likely do well on the LSAT and get into a top law school. The legal field tends to be very prestige oriented- there's a world of difference between attending Harvard and an average school. The chances of graduating unemployed from a top school are pretty low.

I'd only reccomend a STEM double IF he can keep close to a 4.0 GPA with it. STEM is often a disadvantage for law school admissions due to grade deflation and the tendency of law schools to look only at raw numbers. That said, math/philosophy is a common double major- there's actually quite a bit of overlap.

DomDangelina
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by DomDangelina » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:49 am

Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT
As a lawyer, I advise him to run at top speed from the legal business (notice I didn't say profession; it's no longer a profession). He should do this not only for his own happiness, but for the good of the nation. The last thing we need is yet another lawyer.

He should study the following thread very carefully. It's one of the greatest to ever appear on this forum:

viewtopic.php?t=112751

As for philosophy, it's the greatest of all majors...provided he's at the right school. At the wrong school, it's the worst of all majors. The wrong schools today would include Yale, Harvard, Stanford and the like. The right schools would include Hillsdale, University of Dallas, and Thomas Aquinas College. In other words, the soundness of philosophical study today is inversely related to the prestige of the school. So it is today with other fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
"Often the remedy causes the disease. It is by no means the least of life's rules: to let things alone." | Baltasar Gracián, S.J., The Art of Worldly Wisdom, Maxim 121

alfaspider
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by alfaspider » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:52 am

ThatGuy wrote:
market timer wrote:
mhalley wrote:I have never been in a position to hire anyone, but I really find this paragraph from the web page hard to believe.
. Let’s face it: when you go to a job interview with a company, and you let them know that you are a philosophy major, your personal stock goes up. It shows that you are intrigued by difficult and fundamental problems, that your interests are broad, that you have a good head, and that you express yourself well. There is an aura about “philosophy” that often gives candidates a competitive edge in interview situations.
As someone who does a fair bit of hiring, I would give bonus points to a philosophy major, but they'd need to have the technical chops as well. Philosophy + computer science would be a good combo, as would philosophy + statistics.
Likewise, I would look favorably on a philosophy major after a candidate had fulfilled the basic requirement of having an engineering degree.

In contrast to the blurb above, this is not because I expect a philosophy major to be a better problem solver, STEM gives you that anyways. However, I would expect a liberal arts major to have better written communication skills; and a philosophy major in particular to be able to argue for their preferred solution in a more substantive manner than most STEM degree holders. This is what counts once you can perform the basic calculations needed in a job.

Despite the glut of lawyers in general, my understanding is that patent attorneys are under supplied and make good coin.
Patent prosecution tends to be actually a bit capped on compensation because there's a limit to how much companies will pay for patents that have yet to prove their value. Patent litigation tends to be more lucrative, but it's less dependent on having a strong technical background (you don't need to be a member of the patent bar to do patent litigation). That said, there is certainly strong demand for patent prosecutors.

alfaspider
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by alfaspider » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:54 am

DomDangelina wrote:
Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT
As a lawyer, I advise him to run at top speed from the legal business (notice I didn't say profession; it's no longer a profession). He should do this not only for his own happiness, but for the good of the nation. The last thing we need is yet another lawyer.

He should study the following thread very carefully. It's one of the greatest to ever appear on this forum:

viewtopic.php?t=112751

As for philosophy, it's the greatest of all majors...provided he's at the right school. At the wrong school, it's the worst of all majors. The wrong schools today would include Yale, Harvard, Stanford and the like. The right schools would include Hillsdale, University of Dallas, and Thomas Aquinas College. In other words, the soundness of philosophical study today is inversely related to the prestige of the school. So it is today with other fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
For the benefit of the OP, I note there is a very strong implicit conservative political bias to this advice on philosophy departments.

DomDangelina
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by DomDangelina » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:58 am

alfaspider wrote:
For the benefit of the OP, I note there is a very strong implicit conservative political bias to this advice on philosophy departments.
If I had recommended he attend Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, would you have noted a very strong implicit liberal bias to this advice on philosophy departments?
"Often the remedy causes the disease. It is by no means the least of life's rules: to let things alone." | Baltasar Gracián, S.J., The Art of Worldly Wisdom, Maxim 121

Valuethinker
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:05 am

Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT
the best philosophy department in North American was University of Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon is fantastic in computer science and electrical engineering, oddly, but not as highly ranked in philosophy)-- I may be out of date.

Philosophy is a fine degree subject if done well-- trains the mind to think logically and critically.

However law school is incredibly competitive and the outcome is bi-modal. You are either at a top 10-15 law school and you get a job in "Big Law" -- levels of job satisfaction are very low, pay is very high (around $140k starting?), quality of life is non existent. A big fraction burn out before the 7-10 years necessary to make partner, and many don't make partner.

Otherwise you are not in Big Law, and the average salary quoted around here is something like $50k. Not enough to service those big law school debts.

Strangely, serious public interest law, or the kind of law that might lead to a career as a leading white collar criminal attorney (often with political ambitions) seems to be *tougher* to get into than even Big Law? Ivy League undergrad, top law school and law review, etc.

Conclusions:

- if your stepson is truly gifted, and can get into a top college (that offers a wide variety of prestige destinations: consulting, investment banking, top law schools etc.) then philosophy is a worthy major. There are however non-academic barriers to same

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10457.html Pedigree:
How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs

Lauren A. Rivera

The content of the above may be unfamiliar to many readers here. I cannot stress enough how much it matters-- that participation in the college Lacrosse, Rugby or Rowing side. Your stepson needs to be aware of this -- even BigLaw (probably the most academic of the possible career destinations) with all its focus on LSAT scores and class rankings for the all important summer job after 2nd year (that determines your placement after law school) there is non-academic signalling that goes on. Firms hire People Like Us (PLUS). Even a young Afro American from Hawaii was a graduate of Columbia U and Harvard Law School, and had headed Harvard Law Review ;-).

- if not, it's betting a lot that he can get from State U (although some state U's are clearly top) to top Law School (top 10-15) and then stand well enough in his class, plus interview well, to get to big Law.

A related problem is that Deep Learning/ Artificial Intelligence plus offshoring to countries with education but much lower salaries is a real threat to knowledge professions like law. I can't stress this enough-- an education has to offer more than one destination, because we don't know what the jobs of the future are going to be like. And the future is 20 years away, in this case. I am sure we will have plumbers, and I am sure we will have Home Nursing Aides. But just about any other profession or job, I am less sure.

A joint major: Philosophy with Computer Science, Philosophy with Economics, a modern language etc. seems advisable. Intellectually, philosophy with economics is probably the perfect preparation for law school (and has some relevance to some fields of law such as tax, international trade).

But basically something that still gets the rigorous mental training of a good philosophy degree, but also gives rise to different career paths. The main danger is that his grades would be lower-- and that would jeopardize his law school ambitions.

Both Computer Science & Economics would be examples of academic disciplines that go well, at the undergraduate level, with Philosophy. Both however would require a greater degree of mathematical ability & preparation eg Advanced Placement.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Dude2 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:09 am

This reminds me of that Monty Python sketch where the son wants to be a coal miner, but his father is a poet or writer of some kind and forbids it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkihKpnx5yM

My father was an engineer, and I would have liked to have become anything but. However, there are practical considerations about surviving in this world. I get my art and humanities "on the side".
One day you'll learn there's more to life than culture. There's dirt and smoke and good honest sweat.
Last edited by Dude2 on Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

Valuethinker
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:13 am

DomDangelina wrote:
alfaspider wrote:
For the benefit of the OP, I note there is a very strong implicit conservative political bias to this advice on philosophy departments.
If I had recommended he attend Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, would you have noted a very strong implicit liberal bias to this advice on philosophy departments?
What does that mean, even?

The criterion by which you stated your universities was unclear. Was it that they have a strong Christian element to their philosophical teaching (in which case, what about Boston College & Notre Dame?). You didn't mention Pittsburgh, which was the pre eminent graduate philosophy department in North America in my day.

I think alfaspider made a valid point. If those are politically conservative philosophy departments and that is shaping your recommendations then you should say so.

It's as if I told someone that their child should study under a Straussian in political science (I did) without any context as to what a Straussian is, and what they are controversial (Saul Bellow's last novel, Ravelstein, is a very funny and sometimes moving deconstruction of the late Alan Bloom when he was dying of AIDS, Strauss' leading disciple*, and Paul Wolfowitz even has a walk on part (unnamed)).

One would also note that in life, Harvard/ Stanford/ Yale, are going to do more for your career with a BA than any of the colleges you name. Oddly, particularly if you want to work for not for profits/ prestigious foundations/ public interest law, but of course also if career destination takes one into top flight investment banks or consulting firms.

* Disciple is actually the right word. One of the reasons the Straussians did well as an academic sub group (despite fierce opposition) is because many of them were inspired teachers (Bloom, Pangle, Orwin). If you ever had the chance to attend a lecture by Alan Bloom, well, it was an experience I have never forgotten. Just as there was Jesus, so there were Disciples, to spread the Gospel.

alfaspider
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by alfaspider » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:13 am

DomDangelina wrote:
alfaspider wrote:
For the benefit of the OP, I note there is a very strong implicit conservative political bias to this advice on philosophy departments.
If I had recommended he attend Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, would you have noted a very strong implicit liberal bias to this advice on philosophy departments?
No, but I would have noted that your reccomendations don't correspond to the actual top schools for studying philosophy. If you had recommended Reed College or the New School, I might have noted a liberal bias.

There's nothing wrong with attending a school with a certain political bent of that's what you want. However, I think one should be clear what is being recommended.
Last edited by alfaspider on Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

Valuethinker
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:15 am

Dude2 wrote:This reminds me of that Monty Python sketch where the son wants to be a coal miner, but his father is a poet or writer of some kind and forbids it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkihKpnx5yM

My father was an engineer, and I would have liked to have become anything but. However, there are practical considerations about surviving in this world. I get my art and humanities "on the side".
Liberal arts graduates often do well in business. Harder to get their foot on the ladder, but they often bring the broader creative skills.

Horses for courses. If you want to work in utilities, you are either an engineer or a lawyer (maybe an economist). Google? A technologist or an arts grad with a strong background in technology.

We cannot predict where the job markets of the future are going-- it's changing too fast.

When I was a computer programmer I figured the jobs would be outsourced to India. I was, in fact, 25 years too early. But a lot of my friends in IT got "early retired" when the whole department got moved to India. The big management consultancies, accounting firms, investment bank equity research departments and even law firms all outsource significant amounts to India these days.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by TonyDAntonio » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:16 am

I have a BA in philosophy from Cal. During my interview to work as a programmer for the phone company I was jokingly asked if I wanted to open a philosophy shop with my degree. I had to laugh (because I needed a job) but inside I was thinking "what an ass". As my good friend with a masters in philosophy said, philosophy teaches you how to think critically. In what job is that skill not at the top of the requirement list? After a 30 year IT career I am happily retired with a beautiful wife of 34 years and two great 31 year old kids. Life is and has been great and I never had to open that philosophy shop.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by alfaspider » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:25 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT

However law school is incredibly competitive and the outcome is bi-modal. You are either at a top 10-15 law school and you get a job in "Big Law" -- levels of job satisfaction are very low, pay is very high (around $140k starting?), quality of life is non existent. A big fraction burn out before the 7-10 years necessary to make partner.
Pay is up to 180k in major markets. I wouldn't say quality of life is "non-existent" in all cases. I worked hard in big law- but I had a life. True that most don't stick it out for partner, but there are usually pretty decent exit options.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by EddyB » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:34 am

alfaspider wrote:
DomDangelina wrote:
Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT
As a lawyer, I advise him to run at top speed from the legal business (notice I didn't say profession; it's no longer a profession). He should do this not only for his own happiness, but for the good of the nation. The last thing we need is yet another lawyer.

He should study the following thread very carefully. It's one of the greatest to ever appear on this forum:

viewtopic.php?t=112751

As for philosophy, it's the greatest of all majors...provided he's at the right school. At the wrong school, it's the worst of all majors. The wrong schools today would include Yale, Harvard, Stanford and the like. The right schools would include Hillsdale, University of Dallas, and Thomas Aquinas College. In other words, the soundness of philosophical study today is inversely related to the prestige of the school. So it is today with other fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
For the benefit of the OP, I note there is a very strong implicit conservative political bias to this advice on philosophy departments.
And I would add, on the other major element of DomDangelina's post, that to speak of "law" as a single profession or business is much less meaningful than to discuss, say, medicine as a single profession or business. While nothing's guaranteed, the graduates of top law schools continue to have ample opportunities for high-paying or interesting employment (and even if those can be hard to achieve simultaneously, they can often be arranged in series). While some graduates of less well-regarded law schools will have their own successes, the typical outcome for graduates of those schools bears little resemblance to the possibilities that are open to graduates of top programs. That said, nobody should plan on a career in law without understanding what that may entail (e.g., the demands of a career in "big law" are truly exceptional) and his or her own degree of suitability for the career.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law stude

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:53 am

DomDangelina wrote:
alfaspider wrote:
For the benefit of the OP, I note there is a very strong implicit conservative political bias to this advice on philosophy departments.
If I had recommended he attend Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, would you have noted a very strong implicit liberal bias to this advice on philosophy departments?
DomDangelina wrote:
alfaspider wrote:
For the benefit of the OP, I note there is a very strong implicit conservative political bias to this advice on philosophy departments.
If I had recommended he attend Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, would you have noted a very strong implicit liberal bias to this advice on philosophy departments?
I’m an academic philosopher, and I don’t think that different philosophy departments are distinguished primarily — or, indeed, in any significant sense — by political bias. Undergraduate programs have much the same content albeit with sub-disciplinary emphases and voids depending on the size and expertise of the philosophers at a particular institution.

The OP didn’t voice his specific concerns, but to me his stepson’s plans make basic sense because the undergraduate philosophy major is a traditional conduit to law school: The critical thinking, reading, writing, and communication skills that philosophy students acquire tend to be highly valued in law schools (and beyond!). So, the stereotypes of the major as a useless, career-killing choice strike me as exactly wrong. As others have noted, philosophy departments’ web pages try to dispel this stereotype with information about career prospectus, successful philosophy majors, and career salary statistics.

I attended a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts and graduated with a large (for that school) cohort of 12 philosophy majors. I think that three of us ended up as professional philosophers and seven went straight to law school. Four of the latter group went to Harvard Law (back in the day, at least, my school was considered a “feeder school” for that program).

I also take seriously others’ cautions about the changing nature of practicing law. I’ve heard similar complaints among my contemporaries, and my late father lamented how some of the changes lawyers here have discussed made the practice of law less rewarding for him during his 40-year career (beginning in the early 1960s). I know from alumni panels that many aspiring lawyers from my college ended up leaving the field; one of the four Harvard-Law-bound lawyers in my philosophy major cohort did well in finance and ended up co-founding a successful hedge fund.

That said, my father-in-law’s job after age-based retirement from a career as an appellate judge (and after earning an undergraduate degree in philosophy!) is the practice of law, which he loves. I imagine it is possible for passionate young folks to enter that career and create rewarding career for themselves despite the challenges and negative changes that many current — and former — lawyers despise. A key might be acquiring the insights and skills to find an appealing area of law, and a philosophy major might be good preparation for doing this.

Finally, I suspect it is often wise for parents to step aside and allow children to choose autonomously their own majors according to their own abilities, passions, and interests. If my daughter came to me, I would be happy to discuss any concerns or questions she had about choice of major, but otherwise I would not interfere — on the one hand, she’s a level-headed, serious person; on the other, I’ve seen many students do poorly trying to conform to their parents’ wishes.
Last edited by PhilosophyAndrew on Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by TheAncientOne » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:58 am

Your stepson sounds like he has given this some thought, which puts him well ahead of most of his peers. Not a matter of "I'm thinking art history because I hear that's where the hot babes are."

Given that he must have strong math and science skills to have such strong scores, I'd encourage him to consider taking serious science classes as part of his introductory classes in philosophy. A lot of the physics majors I knew in college took upper division philosophy classes because they enjoyed them and not because of any career plans. I'd encourage him to enter college with an open mind (as you and mom should with regard to his class picks) and to view college as a chance to challenge him intellectually and to find out what areas most engage him.

After telling you not to overadvise him on his undergrad studies, I'd strongly urge him to understand what he's getting into if he goes to law school. It's extremely expensive (top schools now cost close $300K for three years), good jobs are highly competitive, and the quality of job satisfaction among young lawyers who do get those top jobs is abysmal in my anecdotal experience.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Hunky-dory » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:59 am

My 2 cents: I studied philosophy at State U and law at a top 20 (not 14, which is a thing in law which should tell you a lot...). The hours and commitment required to exceed in the field of law is truly extraordinary and frankly it is not for most people. I would not discourage someone from studying philosophy but would recommend coupling with a business or ideally STEM to get the foot in the door somewhere. I do discourage people from law school. I probably work 3000-3500 hours a year and I think that is fairly typical although non-lawyers or those outside of "big law" may think it is impossible to work those hours. There are many interesting opportunities as a lawyer once 5-10 years into a career but most of my non-lawyer friends have much better work/life balance.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:15 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision. What do you think? He is going to read the responses. Thank you.

the best philosophy department in North American was University of Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon is fantastic in computer science and electrical engineering, oddly, but not as highly ranked in philosophy)-- I may be out of date.
FWIW, here is one recent ranking of world philosophy programs:

https://www.topuniversities.com/univers ... philosophy


Pittsburgh
Oxford
NYU
Rutgers
Harvard
Cambridge
Princeton
Berkeley
LSE
Yale

That said, many of these institutions focus on graduate teaching over undergraduate. For an undergraduate interested in philosophy prior to law or other professions, I second an earlier poster’s recommendation to look at liberal arts colleges — Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Pomona, etc.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by CFM300 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:15 pm

I know A LOT of people who earned philosophy degrees, from BA's to PhD's.

They're all gainfully employed, working in wide variety of professions. Off the top of my head...

Hollywood screenwriter, metro police detective, data analyst, AI ontologist, Goldman Sachs VP, Google programmer, attorney, community college professor, high-school English teacher, designer, librarian, high-school math teacher, business owner, novelist, and of course, university professor.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by petulant » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:16 pm

I had a 35 ACT similar to OP's son. I was also a National Merit Scholar. I could have gotten a STEM degree.

Instead, I got a BA in philosophy and a BBA in economics from a state university for free. I went to a T5 for law school and took out ca. $150,000 in student loans to do so. It was my path to social mobility. I found out I hated the biglaw world and went to work for state government in my home state for a decent salary. Then I found out about toxic office politics. I am miserable and will be until PSLF kicks in and I am free, although I am trying to occupy a tolerable niche the best I can. My advice is based on experience. It is not to run, but it is to critically evaluate expectations and objectives.

My first piece of advice is to ask the question, why go into law? I went into law because it seemed like a place I could use the technical skills I had gained in philosophy, make money to achieve social mobility, and help people in a way that brought justice. I did not go in with a specific specialty in mind. Based on my experience, there are three things I would correct about my prior objectives.

First, do not go into law with high expectations of doing justice. The reality is that the American legal system is based on procedural justice, or the notion that lawyers advocate for their clients' interests. The attorney's job is to present an imperfect, selfish, and at times unjust party in the best light possible, trusting the process to achieve a positive outcome. This has rankled my truth-oriented philosophy mindset to the core; philosophy is committed to presenting everybody, even your opponent, in the best possible light to see what the best account is. Even if one thinks to escape by becoming a judge--the entity empowered to decide based on truth--the pathway leads through political kowtowing and often results in a hidden client relationship where one's judicial position depends on serving abstract interests. Frankly, the judges most empowered to simply do what is right are the worst paid and most overworked. Now, I don't mean to say that there aren't people who do the right thing, or that it's impossible to have an ethically fulfilling career. I'm just saying that a person needs to have low expectations and understand that an individual lawyer is not free to pursue justice as they see it. They represent specific people or interests and will always be subservient to them.

Second, because I did not identify a specific speciality or niche before going to law school, I was not equipped to steer my career into a field that would make me happier. The T5 law school I attended was designed to push us into biglaw jobs at specific kinds of employers, and the first year professors I had were much more geared toward litigation than toward corporate practice. I found out that litigation for big business did not interest me when it was too late to easily change my mind. I made a panic shift to work for state government. I would strongly encourage anybody interested in law to decide on a path before going to law school, even if it means working for a year or two between college and law school, and then to hold on to the original objective throughout the process. Here's an example of what I mean. If your son was really into debate club and knows he wants to be a trial attorney, then by all means, go to law school and become a trial attorney. Take steps to shove off the irrelevant subjects and pursue that. There are no bonus points for taking a random unrelated class. But if your son is shy and knows he wants to be a backroom guy and he likes business and numbers, he needs to be a corporate or transactional or tax attorney who reads all day and then has a burst of negotiation every once in a while. If he likes old people and reading/writing a lot and has "bedside manner," he can be a wills/trusts attorney. But pursue that. There are no bonus points for being a renaissance man within the law, even though there are plenty of bonus points for being a renaissance man in other ways like having good hobbies.

Third, if the real goal is largely social mobility as a smart person, my advice is to look elsewhere. As others have said, other technical fields will be more rewarding overall and also provide better access to social mobility.

That's the motivation. I also have two strategic thoughts.

The first is that I strongly agree with the posters above who say to do technical study with philosophy. Philosophy gave me better skills to read texts and argue about them, but my BBA in economics has given me professional skills and a background of knowledge that has been invaluable. My tolerable practice right now would not have been available to me without my economics studies.

Second, do not allow your son to take out significant debts for law school. Either you pay for his law school or you make him go somewhere he has a free ride (or some combination). Significant debt constrains a person's freedom too much. You never know what kind of toxic situation you will walk into, even if everything seems okay during the interview or for the first few months of work. Even at a high-salary biglaw job, taxes and the cost of living will eat into the salary and it will take years to pay back significant debts, during which time the stress of 3000-billable-hour years will take a toll.

Third, remember that the people recruiting for law school and law jobs are typically lawyers. Even if they do not outright lie (which is probably rare), they are presenting information in the best light possible, which is likely misleading. Encourage your son to only use objective information, think critically, and to not get swept up in fake impressive balogne.

Overall, to somebody like me only younger, my advice is to think twice, three times, maybe four. I can't go back and change my decisions, and I would certainly not be the person I am today if I had not made them. It wouldn't be reasonable for me to say that I wish I could go back and make completely different decisions. But the wisdom I have gained is worth more than silver, and I hope it's useful.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by daveydoo » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:25 pm

Tigermoose wrote:My stepson wants to major in philosophy and then go on to law school. His mom and I do not think this is a very wise decision...FYI- he is gifted in mathematics and science - 35-36 on ACT
If he weren't motivated and gifted, I'd be concerned. But he's likely to do well and get into a respectable law school, if he chooses. Maybe he can do what interests him and not you? He doesn't sound like someone lazily defaulting into an "easy" liberal arts major for lack of direction or ambition. For context, I have lots of STEM background, along with a healthy dose of liberal-arts envy. Also have a family member contemplating similar decisions.
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Rupert » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:28 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Strangely, serious public interest law, or the kind of law that might lead to a career as a leading white collar criminal attorney (often with political ambitions) seems to be *tougher* to get into than even Big Law? Ivy League undergrad, top law school and law review, etc.
I wouldn't say it's tougher than Big Law, but this statement is otherwise true. The Federal Public Defender program, US Attorneys' Offices, and state Solicitor General offices (and, to a lesser extent, state Attorney General offices) are chock full of Ivy-League-educated lawyers these days. Attorney positions in those programs definitely constitute "serious public interest law" that people with political ambitions consider plum. It's possible to move laterally into Big Law from those programs as well. The bios of many (probably even most) federal judges will have experience in one or another of those programs combined with some experience in Big Law.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by NYCPete » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:11 pm

So far, 12 hours after OP's post, and 39 replies later, OP still hasn't answered numerous responders who've asked for clarification on whether it's the philosophy degree, law school, or the combination of the two that OP thinks is unwise. Lucky for him, Bogleheads are nice enough to try to be helpful anyway... :?

I'm unclear why the ACT scores in science and math are relevant. If your stepson doesn't want to study for and work in a science or math related field, it doesn't matter how good he is at those subjects. People who aren't happy in their jobs tend not to stay in those jobs. If he studies science or math just because he's good at it, gets out of college and hates working in fields where those skills are required, then what was the point?

Speaking as someone who fought my parents tooth and nail to pursue the field of study that I wanted, I suggest you consider butting out. If your stepson gets good grades, learns to navigate the social and bureaucratic challenges of college, he will be just fine regardless of what major he chooses. And it is possible he will discover in college that there is another subject he'd rather do instead once he gets there. That's fine too.

At 18 years old, he may not yet fully know himself yet. But I'd be willing to bet he knows himself better than his parents and step parents know him.

There is no one right path for anyone. Or as we often say around here: "There are many roads to Dublin."
To the extent that a fool knows his foolishness, | He may be deemed wise | A fool who considers himself wise | Is indeed a fool. | | Buddha

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Dendritic Tree » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:45 pm

I majored in philosophy in college and wound up in medical school. I will admit that most of my colleagues in the major went to law school. However, I feel that philosophy is an excellent base coat on which to apply further studies. Nothing else really gives you that versatile critical reasoning skill set that is so useful in a wide variety of both technical and humanities fields. Of course being employed as a philosopher is a bit challenging, but most majors don't pursue that. I will say that medical school admissions committees loved the philosophy major; STEM majors are a dime a dozen in the medical school applications process.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by Big Dog » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:18 pm

Philosophy is a great major for LS, or many other things since it is one of the few hume majors that actually requires critical thinking skills. But also look into a second major or minor as a fall back.

With that high a ACT score, he can do well on the LSAT (17x) which means merit money from many top law schools. Not paying sticker helps minimize the risk of the bidness.

That being said, the US graduates 2x the number of lawyers that the country needs, according to the Bureau of Labor Stats. In other words, half of all grads cannot get a legal job requiring a law degree.

So the moral of the story is, if he goes, go to a top law school (T14), or a top regional for free IFF he wants to permanently practice and reside in that locale.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by dannyboy » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:23 pm

I agree that your stepson should pursue what he's interested in. A 35-36 in ACT Science is a great marker of basic scientific skills, but not such a great indicator of passion for the subject or future success in the discipline. I do, however, echo other people's comments that if law school doesn't eventually pan out, a Philosophy degree may be somewhat less marketable than other degrees, but based on what I've seen from other comments on this thread, that may not even be true.

Another option would be for your stepson to major in a STEM field and then apply to law school; he's obviously already a talented test-taker, so the LSAT shouldn't be an issue that requires Philosophy classes. This would allow him to pursue a wider variety of legal fields (like patent law) while also leaving open a number of other options, like medical school or graduate school if that's the route he would like to take. Basically, your stepson shouldn't do Philosophy just because he thinks it's a precursor to law school, as there are plenty of other, more widely-applicable majors that could serve the same end. However, if he's choosing Philosophy because it's his passion, I would let him study what he wants to study.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by William4u » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:44 pm

Philosophy majors report more satisfaction in their careers than most other majors. They tie physics for the highest LSAT. Philo majors do much better on the writing and verbal sections of the GRE than English majors. The have some of the highest rates of acceptance to law, medical, and MBA programs (e.g., Philo was #1 for two years in a row for MD programs, and #2 the following year). They have some of the highest lifetime earnings of any major outside of engineering (much higher than most business degrees, and higher than most STEM degrees) even if they do not go on to get a masters or doctorate. And they disproportionately get higher degrees.

Many people are surprised by these facts about philosophers. Long-term earnings correlate with analytical skills (logic and argument). They have good, clear writing skills. Plus, philosophy majors tend to know the history of philosophy, ethics, and cognitive science (these are core parts of most majors). No other major is this well rounded in so many important areas. Many hiring managers know this. Plus, business, comm, psyc, and bio degrees are a dime a dozen. There is a glut of those grads trying to get hired. Their long-term pay tends to be much lower.

Many students think STEM or Business are the paths to riches, and philosophy is for the idealists who care little for money. But philosophy in many cases is a better path to riches.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by jmk » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:14 am

It turns out Philosophy has a very high salary compared to many other majors: higher than undergrad business even. Most philosophers do not go into academia but other professions, where they use their thinking skills taught in philosophy. Nothing stops him getting a double major in philosophy and computer science or something else practical.

http://philosophy.unc.edu/undergraduate ... hilosophy/

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by david » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:59 am

.....
Last edited by david on Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by david » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:00 am

alfaspider wrote:
ThatGuy wrote:
market timer wrote:
mhalley wrote:I have never been in a position to hire anyone, but I really find this paragraph from the web page hard to believe.
. Let’s face it: when you go to a job interview with a company, and you let them know that you are a philosophy major, your personal stock goes up. It shows that you are intrigued by difficult and fundamental problems, that your interests are broad, that you have a good head, and that you express yourself well. There is an aura about “philosophy” that often gives candidates a competitive edge in interview situations.
As someone who does a fair bit of hiring, I would give bonus points to a philosophy major, but they'd need to have the technical chops as well. Philosophy + computer science would be a good combo, as would philosophy + statistics.
Likewise, I would look favorably on a philosophy major after a candidate had fulfilled the basic requirement of having an engineering degree.

In contrast to the blurb above, this is not because I expect a philosophy major to be a better problem solver, STEM gives you that anyways. However, I would expect a liberal arts major to have better written communication skills; and a philosophy major in particular to be able to argue for their preferred solution in a more substantive manner than most STEM degree holders. This is what counts once you can perform the basic calculations needed in a job.

Despite the glut of lawyers in general, my understanding is that patent attorneys are under supplied and make good coin.
Patent prosecution tends to be actually a bit capped on compensation because there's a limit to how much companies will pay for patents that have yet to prove their value. Patent litigation tends to be more lucrative, but it's less dependent on having a strong technical background (you don't need to be a member of the patent bar to do patent litigation). That said, there is certainly strong demand for patent prosecutors.
I'm a patent lawyer with a CS/Poli Sci double major. Patent prosecution for larger firms are moving towards fixed fee caps. One note as to employment: getting in the door is very technical field specific. Once you're in the door, it is less of a matter of what your undergraduate major was a bit (because you have proven work product and can list things you've worked on). However, prior to that EE is probably the easiest field to get a job/interviews in, CS is pretty good. Fields like civil engineering is somewhat more difficult. Most firms want PhDs in biology or chemistry and is difficult to get an interview in those areas if you only have an undergraduate degree. Agree with what was said re: patent litigation.
Rupert wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
Strangely, serious public interest law, or the kind of law that might lead to a career as a leading white collar criminal attorney (often with political ambitions) seems to be *tougher* to get into than even Big Law? Ivy League undergrad, top law school and law review, etc.
I wouldn't say it's tougher than Big Law, but this statement is otherwise true. The Federal Public Defender program, US Attorneys' Offices, and state Solicitor General offices (and, to a lesser extent, state Attorney General offices) are chock full of Ivy-League-educated lawyers these days. Attorney positions in those programs definitely constitute "serious public interest law" that people with political ambitions consider plum. It's possible to move laterally into Big Law from those programs as well. The bios of many (probably even most) federal judges will have experience in one or another of those programs combined with some experience in Big Law.
These federal positions are incredibly competitive and as difficult to get into if not more difficult to get into than big law.

I graduated in 2010 when the economy was terrible. Before I went to law school, I looked at employment and salary data offered by law school and relied on it when making enrollment decisions. I learned that a lot of that data was misleading at best. The posters who mentioned a bimodal distribution are absolutely highlighting a big issue. Looking at average salaries when the salary distribution is bimodal gives an incorrect impression on the situation. There are a lot of people, with law degrees, who doing really poorly. Some cannot find work at all in various fields because the law degree frightens employers thinking that you're going to run to a law firm job "making the big bucks" at your first opportunity. Thus, a law degree can close doors without a decent plan and good luck. There is a glut of lawyers. But, different areas of law are different. I think it's important to have a good idea about what you want to pursue and know how many jobs are in that practice area and what it requires (or seems to require) before going to law school.

Also, student loan debt is real and a giant yoke around the necks of many of my law school classmates. The interest rate is very high and you cannot refinance if you are not doing well financially. I had a partial scholarship attending law school and my parents and employment during law school helped pay for the rest of the costs. My wife was not so lucky. She was unable to find employment and now cannot find work. And ended up with 6 figures of debt. It can be frightening. Do not think if it as an easy path to anywhere.

Things have improved since I went to school and overall attendance is down and jobs have rebounded a bit. But I would 1) have a backup plan if you can't get into a good school and want to abort early (philosophy + a STEM degree would be great if you have the interest and aptitude). 2) Talk to practicing lawyers about what the work is like (I'd be happy to talk about law school, the practice of law, etc.) I'm sure others would be happy too. 3) have a plan to pay for it. Also remember that making big law money coming out of school is not a plan. I don't say that in jest, I have heard career services officers at law schools actually telling people not to worry because they are going to make a lot when they graduate. 4) Realize that law school does not train you for anything. I had a fantastic time in law school and it was intellectually stimulating and I met a lot of great people and took a lot of great classes. That said, you learn to take the bar exam from BarBri the summer you graduate and you learn to be a lawyer at your first job. There is typically inadequate coursework on hanging a shingle and you are very close to a malpractice machine when you graduate anyway. To think a law degree will help you find work in other fields is possible, but difficult, and I would talk to people about whether law is a good path for any actual position if that position is anything but lawyer.

I wish your stepson the best of luck in college and beyond.

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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by William4u » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:57 am

ThatGuy wrote:
market timer wrote:
mhalley wrote:I have never been in a position to hire anyone, but I really find this paragraph from the web page hard to believe.
. Let’s face it: when you go to a job interview with a company, and you let them know that you are a philosophy major, your personal stock goes up. It shows that you are intrigued by difficult and fundamental problems, that your interests are broad, that you have a good head, and that you express yourself well. There is an aura about “philosophy” that often gives candidates a competitive edge in interview situations.
As someone who does a fair bit of hiring, I would give bonus points to a philosophy major, but they'd need to have the technical chops as well. Philosophy + computer science would be a good combo, as would philosophy + statistics.
Likewise, I would look favorably on a philosophy major after a candidate had fulfilled the basic requirement of having an engineering degree.
I've spoken to hiring managers who prefer to hire philosophy majors for many of the reasons mentioned. In one case, there was a good job in chem. Many of the applicants had masters degrees in chem, but the person who got the job was a philosophy major and chem minor. When I asked the hiring PI about this, he said that he needed someone who could think independently and creatively to work through the issues with the new project he was doing. He said that a philo major was far better for that than a masters in chem, since the masters just made people good at assays but not good at thinking independently and creatively.

Fast forward a few years, and the new (severely underfunded) basic research project that was spearheaded by a philo major went very well, and led to a $4 million grant for the PI.

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William4u
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by William4u » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:05 am

jmk wrote:It turns out Philosophy has a very high salary compared to many other majors: higher than undergrad business even. Most philosophers do not go into academia but other professions, where they use their thinking skills taught in philosophy. Nothing stops him getting a double major in philosophy and computer science or something else practical.

http://philosophy.unc.edu/undergraduate ... hilosophy/
I highly recommend double majoring. A grad's options can expand quite a lot when she or he double majors in two fields. A philosophy + STEM double major can be very empowering.

bluebolt
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Re: Philosophy major and future law student

Post by bluebolt » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:05 am

Where I went to school, the smart people were STEM majors. The REALLY smart people were philosophy majors.

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