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Demander

I demand to know... why anyone would do a JD MGA?

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The Joint JD + Masters of Global Affairs degree looks interesting, but I can't shake the feeling that it's just a money grab. Can anyone shed some light on how an MGA would complement/ improve a legal education, what the benefits of the internship program are, and maybe what kinds of careers it might open up (that couldn't be reached with the JD + demonstrating interest within the JD program)?

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I don't have any information on the JD/MGA specifically, but I do on the MGA. I spoke with 2 graduate students in the program back in 2014, which was the year they made major structural changes to the program (doubled the cohort). I'm unsure if the kinks were worked out, but at the time, both students I spoke with were very unhappy with the program and felt it was overstretched and insufficiently supported compared to their discussions with students from earlier years when the cohort was smaller.

 

In general, if your objective is to practice law at a firm (let's say corporate) it is hard to see how doing the MGA would benefit you. Maybe it and the required internships will give you an edge in immigration law, or searching for a government or UN job, but I doubt it would have much impact if you were pursuing more mainstream options.

 

I recall they have a student ambassador program, maybe ask to be connected to one of the JD/MGA students to ask questions.

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The answer may well be that a MGA does not meaningfully offer greater career opportunities than a JD does on its own. But that doesn't mean the joint program is a money grab. There's even a JD/MA (English). Does the MA in English have to afford career opportunities in some kind of hybrid law/literature job in order to justify its existence? You do realize that there are many degrees out there that are not explicitly geared to the job market. Sometimes people learn simply out of interest and enthusiasm. And sometimes, in unexpected ways, that education can lead to surprising careers and opportunities. But a degree doesn't need a straight line roadmap between learning and employment in order to justify itself. Presumably, the market for this joint degree are students who are interested in global affairs, and not exclusively those that imagine a career in it.

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I have applied to this program. If you *demand* to know why: A) I'm very interested in foreign affairs and B) I eventually want to pursue international criminal law.  

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4 hours ago, rebeccius said:

I have applied to this program. If you *demand* to know why: A) I'm very interested in foreign affairs and B) I eventually want to pursue international criminal law.  

If this is a major part of your rationale, you really owe it to yourself to have an in-depth discussion with someone (potentially on this board, but probably not in this thread) about the degree to which such a field of practice even exists (short answer - barely so) and the degree to which there are meaningful opportunities for anyone who is not already a very prominent lawyer to do anything in this field (short answer - almost not at all).

I would never discourage someone away from their interests. But you deserve to know the truth going in. Law is a jurisdictional qualification. If you become a lawyer in Canada, your opportunities will be to practice law in Canada. You could potentially pursue a career in policy or diplomacy and hope to do that elsewhere (and, arguably, that's one of the things that a MGA could be good for) but if you actually want to practice law please be aware that most people who use a line like "international criminal law" could not even accurately define what that means. It doesn't mean going to Pakistan and getting involved in a case that's going on there. Crimes in Pakistan are governed by Pakistani law and defended and prosecuted by Pakistani lawyers. The only international criminal law that even exists would need to stem from international authority. Meaning, essentially, the UN, and treaties. At this point, btw, I'm generalizing to a degree that I'm in danger of being wrong. So if anyone wants to correct me, please do.

My point being, if you're hoping to somehow be involved in prosecuting international war criminals who are brought before international authority for justice...that's at least a rational, if an incredibly competitive, career goal. Like becoming an astronaut. But please be aware, the vast majority (and I mean the vast majority) of even war criminals, and the most heinous shit you can imagine, are prosecuted domestically and within nations governed by their own laws and by lawyers who are qualified in those jurisdictions. Not by anyone from Canada.

Sorry, this is just a massive pet peeve of mine. A lot of would-be lawyers seem to think that by saying they want to do international whatever, it means they'll be traveling around to other nations in the world and being a lawyer in those other nations. And it really, really doesn't.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, rebeccius said:

So many assumptions going on there I don't know where to start. :huh:

Well, if you don't want a discussion on this topic and you aren't interested in my advice, that's fine. But if you're interested at all in fleshing out your ideas of what you want to do with this very expensive education before you obtain it, you could just define what you mean by "international criminal law" and what you believe a career in practicing it might look like. And then you can get away from my incorrect assumptions.

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2 hours ago, Diplock said:

If this is a major part of your rationale, you really owe it to yourself to have an in-depth discussion with someone (potentially on this board, but probably not in this thread) about the degree to which such a field of practice even exists (short answer - barely so) and the degree to which there are meaningful opportunities for anyone who is not already a very prominent lawyer to do anything in this field (short answer - almost not at all).

I would never discourage someone away from their interests. But you deserve to know the truth going in. Law is a jurisdictional qualification. If you become a lawyer in Canada, your opportunities will be to practice law in Canada. You could potentially pursue a career in policy or diplomacy and hope to do that elsewhere (and, arguably, that's one of the things that a MGA could be good for) but if you actually want to practice law please be aware that most people who use a line like "international criminal law" could not even accurately define what that means. It doesn't mean going to Pakistan and getting involved in a case that's going on there. Crimes in Pakistan are governed by Pakistani law and defended and prosecuted by Pakistani lawyers. The only international criminal law that even exists would need to stem from international authority. Meaning, essentially, the UN, and treaties. At this point, btw, I'm generalizing to a degree that I'm in danger of being wrong. So if anyone wants to correct me, please do.

My point being, if you're hoping to somehow be involved in prosecuting international war criminals who are brought before international authority for justice...that's at least a rational, if an incredibly competitive, career goal. Like becoming an astronaut. But please be aware, the vast majority (and I mean the vast majority) of even war criminals, and the most heinous shit you can imagine, are prosecuted domestically and within nations governed by their own laws and by lawyers who are qualified in those jurisdictions. Not by anyone from Canada.

Sorry, this is just a massive pet peeve of mine. A lot of would-be lawyers seem to think that by saying they want to do international whatever, it means they'll be traveling around to other nations in the world and being a lawyer in those other nations. And it really, really doesn't.

 

 

Eh, there are plenty of firms in the US (including the one I am going to) that specialize in foreign anti-corruption law (think Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, etc.). That's probably the closest you can get to international criminal law in most cases though.

 

My main point though, if you want firms doing international work, generally you will need to look outside of Canada. Certainly possible from U of T with great grades though.

Edited by Livinginamerica

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On 11/10/2017 at 7:13 PM, Demander said:

The Joint JD + Masters of Global Affairs degree looks interesting, but I can't shake the feeling that it's just a money grab. Can anyone shed some light on how an MGA would complement/ improve a legal education, what the benefits of the internship program are, and maybe what kinds of careers it might open up (that couldn't be reached with the JD + demonstrating interest within the JD program)?

Maybe they've got a diploma sized hole in their wall next to where they want to put their JD.  

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3 hours ago, Diplock said:

My point being, if you're hoping to somehow be involved in prosecuting international war criminals who are brought before international authority for justice...that's at least a rational, if an incredibly competitive, career goal. Like becoming an astronaut. But please be aware, the vast majority (and I mean the vast majority) of even war criminals, and the most heinous shit you can imagine, are prosecuted domestically and within nations governed by their own laws and by lawyers who are qualified in those jurisdictions. Not by anyone from Canada.

 

 

There were 85 space missions in 2016. There have been 24 cases tried throughout the entire history of the International Criminal Court. 

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4 hours ago, Diplock said:

Well, if you don't want a discussion on this topic and you aren't interested in my advice, that's fine. But if you're interested at all in fleshing out your ideas of what you want to do with this very expensive education before you obtain it, you could just define what you mean by "international criminal law" and what you believe a career in practicing it might look like. And then you can get away from my incorrect assumptions.

I do know what international criminal law means (even if I choose not to define it to to someone who assumes I don't, without knowing a thing about me, on an anonymous forum).  I'm also fully aware of the relevant international/national jurisdictions. I wasn't interested in fully explaining the details of my career ambitions, nor was I asking for approval of said ambitions. It was an honest reaction and answer to the OP. Is being interested in a subject not in and of itself grounds for pursuing a degree in the field?  Who cares what other people spend their time and money on?  

Edited by rebeccius
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10 minutes ago, rebeccius said:

Who cares what other people spend their time and money on?  

Well, generally speaking, most people don't care. But some of the people on this forum do want to help you out by making sure you're not going to law school solely because of a misconception you have about the profession. They don't have to care, but because most lawyers are actually pretty charitable and are eager to help out young lawyers or people who are seriously considering law school, they'll take time out of their day to give you the benefits of their knowledge. So long as you accept that they understand how their area of practice actually works (e.g., Diplock is a criminal defence lawyer with a successful practice), you are free to ignore their advice.

Though I do want to observe that saying things like "what do you care?" or "it's none of your business!" or "you don't even know me!" are usually tell-tale signs that you probably haven't thought this whole thing through.

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4 hours ago, Livinginamerica said:

Eh, there are plenty of firms in the US (including the one I am going to) that specialize in foreign anti-corruption law (think Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, etc.). That's probably the closest you can get to international criminal law in most cases though.

 

My main point though, if you want firms doing international work, generally you will need to look outside of Canada. Certainly possible from U of T with great grades though.

No, FCPA work is not even vaguely akin to international criminal law. It is primarily, almost overwhelmingly, a compliance job. The other end of it is internal investigations, which are not akin to int crim.

Also, FCPA has nothing to do with foreign corruption law. It is a US law that captures acts overseas. That's different. The tax code also does that, but no one would call tax lawyers international men of mystery. Except Bob, maybe.

35 minutes ago, rebeccius said:

I do know what international criminal law means (even if I choose not to define it to to someone who assumes I don't, without knowing a thing about me, on an anonymous forum).  I'm also fully aware of the relevant international/national jurisdictions. I wasn't interested in fully explaining the details of my career ambitions, nor was I asking for approval of said ambitions. It was an honest reaction and answer to the OP. Is being interested in a subject not in and of itself grounds for pursuing a degree in the field?  Who cares what other people spend their time and money on?  

It's a public forum. You offered a purported justification for spending a year of opportunity cost and time, plus thousands of dollars, on an MGA. There's very good reason to debate that if it's not a reasonable choice - other people might take your position as advice and others on this forum will debate whether it stands as good advice. That's what we do here. It's not about you. Not everything is about you.

Edit: I mean, this is literally a thread for debating the usefulness of taking an MGA. You can't say "here's the reason I think it's useful and NO ONE ELSE MAY COMMENT UPON MY OPINION". 

Also, no. Just being interested in a subject is a terrible reason, in my opinion, to sign up for a degree. You can get the reading list for classes on your own and read those books and more. An undergraduate degree is designed to teach you how to research things on your own - use that skill, don't continue to pay the cash cow just because it's slightly easier. I got published in a field I didn't do a graduate degree for and I'm submitting again for another field. You can do it. The universities just don't want you to believe you can, because meaningless masters degrees really help with the revenue stream.

Edited by theycancallyouhoju
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Tax law is the one area of law where international law is relevant to the day to day practice - since most international tax planning involves relying on tax treaties.

And, yes, tax lawyers are international men (or women) of mystery.  Men want to be us, woman want to be with us.  

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8 minutes ago, maximumbob said:

Tax law is the one area of law where international law is relevant to the day to day practice - since most international tax planning involves relying on tax treaties.

And, yes, tax lawyers are international men (or women) of mystery.  Men want to be us, woman want to be with us.  

Treaties come up in my work too, in a tangential way most often. I wouldn't call that working in "international law" in the sense that people mean when they want to be practitioners of international law before heading to law school.

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23 minutes ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

Treaties come up in my work too, in a tangential way most often. I wouldn't call that working in "international law" in the sense that people mean when they want to be practitioners of international law before heading to law school.

No, I agree it’s not what people think of as “international law”, but it’s what the actual practice of international law looks like. I mean, practice criminal law and, at best, you might cit some international convention as persuasive authority for your preferred interpretation of Canadian domestic law.   Practice business tax law in Canada, and you’ll be regularly interpreting and applying Canada’s tax treaties as binding authority on whatever points of law you’re working on, since those treaties are typically adopted verbatim into Canada’s legal regime.  

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1 hour ago, Ryn said:

Well, generally speaking, most people don't care. But some of the people on this forum do want to help you out by making sure you're not going to law school solely because of a misconception you have about the profession. They don't have to care, but because most lawyers are actually pretty charitable and are eager to help out young lawyers or people who are seriously considering law school, they'll take time out of their day to give you the benefits of their knowledge. So long as you accept that they understand how their area of practice actually works (e.g., Diplock is a criminal defence lawyer with a successful practice), you are free to ignore their advice.

Though I do want to observe that saying things like "what do you care?" or "it's none of your business!" or "you don't even know me!" are usually tell-tale signs that you probably haven't thought this whole thing through.

Thank-you for your observations.  Yes, I decided to apply to law school (as a mature student) on a whim!  

Edited by rebeccius

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If you’re Lebanese, I’d suggest a BA in Jurisprudence from Oxford and an LLM from NYU as a stepping stone to the practice of international criminal law.

It’s a tried and true path.

Edited by MinesAndMinerals
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1 hour ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

No, FCPA work is not even vaguely akin to international criminal law. It is primarily, almost overwhelmingly, a compliance job. The other end of it is internal investigations, which are not akin to int crim.

Also, FCPA has nothing to do with foreign corruption law. It is a US law that captures acts overseas. That's different. The tax code also does that, but no one would call tax lawyers international men of mystery. Except Bob, maybe.

It's a public forum. You offered a purported justification for spending a year of opportunity cost and time, plus thousands of dollars, on an MGA. There's very good reason to debate that if it's not a reasonable choice - other people might take your position as advice and others on this forum will debate whether it stands as good advice. That's what we do here. It's not about you. Not everything is about you.

Edit: I mean, this is literally a thread for debating the usefulness of taking an MGA. You can't say "here's the reason I think it's useful and NO ONE ELSE MAY COMMENT UPON MY OPINION". 

Also, no. Just being interested in a subject is a terrible reason, in my opinion, to sign up for a degree. You can get the reading list for classes on your own and read those books and more. An undergraduate degree is designed to teach you how to research things on your own - use that skill, don't continue to pay the cash cow just because it's slightly easier. I got published in a field I didn't do a graduate degree for and I'm submitting again for another field. You can do it. The universities just don't want you to believe you can, because meaningless masters degrees really help with the revenue stream.

I took issue with the assumptions of my knowledge of international law, etc. Not the fact that someone commented on my opinion.  

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