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Legal Historians?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
If someone were to focus on Legal History in law school...what sort of career opportunities would be available post-graduation?

I would imagine BigLaw and that nice $125K salary are out. Are there professions out there that would pay a very handsome starting salary ($75K+), and more importantly, are they readily available?

As always, thanks.
post #2 of 9
The classes you choose to take in your 2L and 3L years (and your grades in them) have nothing to do with your ability to get a job at a top rate law firm.
post #3 of 9
The only advice I can give is, hope you like reading, especially Old English. I've done a few law history courses for my undergrad and they had some of the most dense reading I've ever done. Although property law history is very cool.

A.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Connemara
If someone were to focus on Legal History in law school...what sort of career opportunities would be available post-graduation?

I would imagine BigLaw and that nice $125K salary are out. Are there professions out there that would pay a very handsome starting salary ($75K+), and more importantly, are they readily available?

As always, thanks.

I can't imagine a firm would want someone with this background, so you're really looking at academic careers. They don't start anywhere near 75,000, (assuming you could get a position.)

You could get in as a law librarian with that background, but the pay (where I live) would probably be in the 30s, not the 70s.

To be honest, that focus would say to an employer: "he likes law, but doesn't want to represent clients or be confrontational." Since that's where the money is, you'd be out of the running.
post #5 of 9
there may be some opportunity with something like carswell, cch or lexis/nexis and other legal publishers that need people to do research and keep their legal services and case commentaries up-to-date

not quite legal history unless you write a book but somewhat related
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Checks
I can't imagine a firm would want someone with this background, so you're really looking at academic careers. They don't start anywhere near 75,000, (assuming you could get a position.)

You could get in as a law librarian with that background, but the pay (where I live) would probably be in the 30s, not the 70s.

To be honest, that focus would say to an employer: "he likes law, but doesn't want to represent clients or be confrontational." Since that's where the money is, you'd be out of the running.
Firms could care less what classes you take. One gets an offer for summer employment (from which one gets an offer for permanent employment) in the fall after one's 1L year, during which few or no electives are even offered.
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by zjpj83
Firms could care less what classes you take. One gets an offer for summer employment (from which one gets an offer for permanent employment) in the fall after one's 1L year, during which few or no electives are even offered.
To my knowledge, there's really no such thing as a focus in legal history in law school. Even if there was, it'd be an elective course as a 2L or 3L.
If you get excellent grades as a 1L, you'll get a summer associate position at a big law firm, which should eventually lead to an offer. However, if you don't get a biglaw job your first or second summer (like the vast majority of your classmates), the types of courses you take as a 2L and 3L may impact your prospects for a job later. This is particularly true if you were to graduate law school without any offers in hand. One or two "fluffy" electives, such as history, won't make an iota of difference; but if you don't take ANY substantive classes, it might reflect poorly on you.

I only agree with the above quote in cases where you're in the top 10% of your class and you go to an excellent law school. However, if you're merely in the top half of your class, and your law school isn't in the top 10, little things like course selection and load DO make a difference, especially at medium/small firms. I participate pretty heavily in the recruiting process for my firm, so I speak from experience.

Quote:
The classes you choose to take in your 2L and 3L years (and your grades in them) have nothing to do with your ability to get a job at a top rate law firm.
In all fairness, this quote is technically true. The hitch is few people really get offers at top rate firms. There are plenty of other firms out there that pay $100k+, where your courses make a difference.
post #8 of 9
I'll defer to zjp's expertise on BigLaw, but for the rest of us, offer the following:

I've worked at four law firms, ranging from 3 attorneys to 55.

Those firms didn't have summer associates, only clerks (Connemara, those are people who work part-time during the law school year but who do not necessarily have a place in an associate "class" upon graduation).

I read the original post as asking whether there were careers in Legal History, to which I'd say "not many"; or whether there was some utility in focusing on Legal History, to which I'd say "no."

Certainly, if you have a law degree and a license, there are many thousands of legal jobs available, but almost no "legal history" jobs.

If you want to do legal history as a researcher, I'd suggest a joint JD/PhD program, and then try to find a faculty position. I normally do NOT recommend that people go to law school unless they want to practice law, but maybe that's an exception.
post #9 of 9
If your question is could I get a decent job at a law firm if I took a lot of legal history during my 2nd and third years of law school, then the answer to that question is probably yes. See ZipJ83's previous answer. He is correct. Law firms don't really care what electives you take, unless there is a particular affinity with a specialty of that firm. (A focus on Chinese law electives might help you land a job with a firm that concentrates on international business in China.)

If your question is what career options are there where you can study legal history, then I would think that a post law school LLM degree is probably what you would need in order to get a decent job in the field of legal history. Academia would likely be your only option, and academic jobs are very very hard to get. To improve your chances, you would need to write some interesting articles and get them published.
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