By Sienho Yee
Back to the main page: http://www.sienhoyee.org/
For info on international law: http://www.sienhoyee.org/pil.htm
And my students’ publications: http://www.sienhoyee.org/studentpapers.htm
A. Law school in general, according to Sienho Yee
B. Law schools in the
C. Foreigners in US law schools
D. International law: http://www.sienhoyee.org/pil.htm
E. Teaching jobs in US law schools: http://www.aals.org/
A. Law School in General, according to Sienho Yee
1. Law school is nice
2. Law is about how to manage society, and, in the final analysis, forms part of the unique nature of society. If one has big ambitions, being a legal thinker should be the goal, and you can give the world ideas that might move it into a certain direction, in some respects, big or small,
Of course, one can also be
content with being a normal lawyer, fixing problems as they arise, and making a
3. If you like to read a little about what law and law school life are like, please check these out:
Scott Turrow, One L (about first year law school life at Harvard).
Anthony Lewis, Gideon's Trumpet.
Charles Dickens, Bleak House.
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (2004).
J. Ellis, American Sphinx : The Character of Thomas Jefferson (Vintage) (1997).
Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World (2001).
Mary Anne Glendon, A World Made New (2001).
Taylor, An Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trial (1992).
Jan Jaan Kross, Professor Martens' Departure (Anselm Hollo trans. 1994).
Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (Paperback - April 4, 1995).
4. In addition, I would like to recommend that you read the biographies of other founders of the USA, such as Madison, etc. They are great stories about how to set up a pretty good nation-State.
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains
of the Day (Paperback - Sep 12, 1990).
6. If you like to read anything that I have published, let me know and I will see whether I can send you copies. The list is here: http://www.sienhoyee.org/publications.htm.
B. US Law Schools
(a). The JD
7. For some general info written by the ABA organization, see: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/prelaw/prep.html
14. Often there is a controversy as to whether a JD. is really one just good for practice and not for theoretical work. This controversy often pits the JD against the PhD, despite the growing numbers of eminent people having their PhDs stripped off for reasons that you would not feel proud about. It is true that a JD who has avoided all the theoretical courses in law school may have some trouble dealing with theoretical work. Of course, one may wonder how much better a PhD is, if he or she has been conditioned by an entire intellectual life studying law into the unhealthy habits of thinking about or just applying the law rigidly. In any event, the JD program in a good US law school affords much room for theoretical inquiry. For example, at Columbia I myself personally took courses in perspectives on legal thought, federal courts, advanced constitutional law; any one of these has a theoretical component more difficult to deal with than a philosopher can, to his or her satisfaction, to be sure. To some contrast sometimes, people working on a PhD in law in some other countries simply bury themselves in some technical aspects of the legalistic doctrine for a few years and produce a thesis that is very much “doctrinal” with little theoretical inquiry in it and yet the title of their degree has “Ph” in it.
So the better thing to do is simply to go to the substance of the person, not his or her degree, or other marks of his or her success. Put another way, it is better to count ideas and analyses from someone, rather than his or her certificates. The problem is that only true pros can see substance; all others are destined to see only surface.
The American Bar Association Council has
issued the following statement (http://www.abanet.org/legaled/accreditation/Council
JD Degree - PhD Degree Equivalency
WHEREAS, the acquisition of a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree requires from 84 to 90 semester hours of post baccalaureate study and the Doctor of Philosophy degree usually requires 60 semester hours of post baccalaureate study along with the writing of a dissertation, the two degrees shall be considered as equivalent degrees for educational employment purposes;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that all appropriate persons be requested to eliminate any policy, or practice, existing within their jurisdiction which disparages legal education or promotes discriminatory employment practices against JD degree-holders who hold academic appointment in education institutions.
16. As noted above, the JD is the most important degree in the US law schools. As generally believed, LL.M. and J.S.D. are really designed for foreigners. There is a school of thought that says: if one competes, one may just as well compete with the locals on local terms (the so-called “main stream competition”); if not, the feelings of victory will not taste as sweet. From this perspective, some people jokingly say that the JD is the regular army while other degrees are simply guerrilla groups in the legal education in the USA. That of course does not prevent the foreigners who have received degrees designed for foreigners from going home and excelling in their home territory on the terms of their home territory. Only enlightened people in the foreign land can see the value of the JD degree, as human nature is such that one often measures others by one’s own criteria, at least until engaged in battle where the weak will see the superiority of the strong more clearly. Maybe not.
Of course, one also sees some JD holders hold PhDs in another field such as international relations and literature. These persons normally branch out in different fields and they become either very good in each or not so good in all the fields they dabble in. One should make such a choice to branch out with the full knowledge of one’s own wherewithals.
C. Foreigners in US Law Schools
(a). Scholarships and stuff
18. Different law schools have their scholarship/fellowship programs. An applicant has just to go to their websites to find info and try them all. There is no simple way of finding out info.
19. Generally speaking, however, the better a law school is, the stronger its scholarship program is.
20. A good law school normally takes pride in having a policy that almost guarantees education if an applicant is accepted, regardless of his or her financial situation.
21. However, this policy may not apply to a foreign applicant.
22. The general idea is that it is very difficult for a foreigner to get a full scholarship from a US law school. Only a few fortunate ones at the best schools may provide the special scholarships for foreigners.
Original version: 20050730