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cmego posted 6/8/2014 07:19 AM

I have a year left in my grad program. Legal research and writing. Currently have a 4.0.

I am realizing more and more that my true love lies in researching, not necessarily the legal stuff. I can research any topic. I've been thinking about going on to do some type of "library science degree". I think I would be happiest working in a library of a university, and there are several good ones around me.

I have about 2 years left of spousal support. 1 year to finish my current program, then about 1 year to complete a post-masters program. I don't have the time to finish a PhD. I'm going to have to go back to work in about 2 years. I'll be 45 when I have to go back to work.

Should I follow my heart that is leading me away from my current degree??? I'm more than 1/2 through the program and kicking ass. I could drop out now, and switch fields. I could stay with the program knowing a legal degree can be a great background for so many things, I could stop dreaming about working in a library and just go get a job next year.

It is expensive and I have no extra money, but I could probably afford it...

rachelc posted 6/8/2014 08:23 AM

I don't work at a university but i was trained at one and am a school librarian.
If you like research, I would stick with the legal degree.
At a uni library, you'd be doing a lot of teaching students how to do research rather than doing it yourself.
I think....
At least that was my experience, unless you're working for a professor researching for publication....

[This message edited by rachelc at 8:23 AM, June 8th (Sunday)]

Amazonia posted 6/8/2014 08:50 AM

There is plenty of research in paralegal-ing...

cayc posted 6/8/2014 09:59 AM

I have a PhD in political science. That was 3 years of coursework and 3 years on the qualifying exams, research and dissertation to finish.

In the last semester of my coursework, I realized that I should have been getting a PhD in economics. I talked to all my professors. I could have done it, another 1.5 years coursework. I'd be another 20K in debt ... but all of my professors advised against it. They were of the mindset that a PhD was good enough regardless of the discipline and that I'd be wasting time to start over.

My discovery of what I thought was the first and only A derailed all of that, but I think my professors were wrong.

Post BA, no degree is worth it unless it leads you exactly to where you want to go. If the program you're in does not lead you directly to where you want to go, it's not worth it.

(For the record, I made it work and my PhD payoff was only in the salary bump I received at my current job, in every other respect it was a waste of time/money. But damn, I still read all the econ blogs, keep up with all the research, wish I had followed through ...).

Library science at the university level does have research incorporated into it. I myself used the librarians' help extensively when getting my doctorate. And their help was research in the purest sense. They helped direct and find data for my inquiry, they didn't have to write it up. Library science, over coming the propensity to wikipedia and google it, seems like it'd be a dynamic field at the moment too.

The writing part of research, whether it's reporting to the end user, or having to write for a grade or publication sucks ass if you don't like writing or you don't like your topic enough to have something to say about it.

And if you aren't enjoying the arcana of law, you aren't going to like legal research. The fun of legal research is in tearing apart the law, making the legal argument, writing the brief, supporting the case and hopefully victory for your client. That's exciting stuff ... but ONLY if you love it. Otherwise it's just pure drudgery.

My not so unbiased advice is to switch programs now. You only have one life to live so spend it doing something you like.

[This message edited by cayc at 10:00 AM, June 8th, 2014 (Sunday)]

MinorBee posted 6/8/2014 12:13 PM

You could become a law librarian. You still have to get a library science degree but it would specialize in organization of legal materials and proper research methodology.

You might already be half way through the program to become a law librarian if you are half way done with a law degree.

Just a suggestion of you enjoy research and the law profession.

sisoon posted 6/8/2014 13:06 PM

Congressional Research Service, DC think tanks use researchers by the score.

How about looking for a college teaching job in Poli. Sci. I know they're few and far between, but they'd potentially let you do some research and talk about your findings.

FaithFool posted 6/8/2014 13:13 PM

I'm never happier than when I'm buried in a dusty archive, which is why I'm pursuing a late-life history research path.

I enjoy researching, have been told I write brilliantly (by more than one person ) and have already had a primary-source research paper published in an undergrad journal.

My Honours thesis won a cash prize, all of which is leading me to believe this could be a fruitful and enjoyable thing to do "post-retirement".

Call me crazy, but thought of all those moldy old archives waiting to be opened to the world makes me excited. And the thrill of seeing one's name in print never really gets old...

So maybe consider a fast-track post-doc certificate in history? My uni has a co-op option which could turn out to be a gold mine...

[This message edited by FaithFool at 1:15 PM, June 8th (Sunday)]

cmego posted 6/8/2014 13:28 PM

Yes, I'm also a gifted writer. I can't say these papers are flowing out of me as I'm not interested in the subject. But, I can pound away at them and earn excellent grades. Several profs have told me I am one of the best writers in the program.

I'm not earning a J.D., but a MPS. A "new" law degree, as masters in law is a new field. Some states are beginning to allow paralegals to do basic law work, and I believe the trend will continue. Everyone needs access to less expensive legal stuff! The research aspect of the degree is what attracted me to it, not necessarily the law. The legal librarians I know are all JD's. I just know this is a way better degree, (and did interest me), than my undergrad in Fine Art.

I've found a post Masters certificate program in library science. I'm just afraid I"m going to end up with a ton of education and NO practical experience. I had allowed myself 6 months- a year to find employment once my MPS is complete, so if I take on the certificate program, I will have very little time to find a job. But, it may open more avenues for me in a career I will ultimately like better.

I love education. I would love nothing more than to work in a library. I am just afraid the jobs are very limited.

Just tossing this around.

FaithFool posted 6/8/2014 18:08 PM

I'm fortunate in that I'm approaching the education paradigm from the opposite end of life -- every discussion I see online about job prospects mentions the lack of secure tenured positions, that academia only offers part time contract work.

Hey, that suits me fine, I'll be semi-retired by the time it all pans out and those contracts will suit me just fine.

For a younger person I can see where that would be worrisome.

I have the luxury of being able to indulge in education for the sake of enjoying the experience and not for the sake of taking a degree that's going to make the most money.

Not everyone gets to do that.

happenedtome posted 6/8/2014 18:42 PM

If the post-Masters certificate takes 6 months full-time, could you earn it on a part-time basis? If so, you could finish your MPS degree, get a job in that field, and work on the post-Masters certificate while you work. It would take longer and would be tough since you are also raising kids which makes it even harder to juggle a job and school, but you would then have the practical working experience, albeit in legal research, which you have discovered isn't your favorite subject area, but at least it would be practical research-based work experience.

StrongerOne posted 6/8/2014 21:34 PM

You need to do some substantial research on career paths for library and info science degrees. There are a number of different paths. Find the ones that most fit your career interests and skills, then find out if there are any or enough jobs available. Look at the programs and degree offered. What's their job placement for their grads? What's the pay? Chances for promotion, mobility, job security?

Can you get fellowships and scholarships, assistantships to cover most or all of the costs of a new degree?

Quite a few of my friends are librarians (university, college, public, and corporate). Like any field, there's plenty of crap to go along with the stuff you love.

Is there a way to do what you want with the degree you are earning now?

Could you finish your current degree and make money so that you can afford to pursue a library and info science degree? There are online degree programs, btw.

BTW, you might check the blog Funny, well written, and brutally honest about the dark side of librarianship.

[This message edited by StrongerOne at 9:35 PM, June 8th (Sunday)]

cmego posted 6/9/2014 06:44 AM

The funny thing is that I have pulled a 180 from my life "before". I worked in HR for many years, but the last 10 were me working as a full-tim Mom and artist.

Part of my NB was trying to find that "niche". I picked paralegal since I knew I liked the law, can handle paperwork from my HR days, and the field is steady. It wasn't for a love of the profession. What I am just now realizing is that what I LOVE is research. I did 18 months at a community college before switching to a grad degree, so I've done 2.5 years of school already.

As odd as it sounds, it never occurred to me to look into library science as a field until a few weeks ago. There are several open opportunities in my city (and great school systems and universities here too).

The only odd thing I can say is that when I was younger, in college the "first go-round", I used to dream of being surrounded by books. I never thought I was smart enough to do the "heavy work of school". I have a BS in Art and a minor in English as undergrad. My parents were both scientists, so they didn't know what to do with my liberal/art/book loving butt. Art degree it was!

Now, as a mature student, I see my value/worth and intelligence. I didn't when I was younger. I could do any degree I want. I just feel like I've kinda figured this out too late.

I dunno. Still turning it all over in my head. I am sure there is no way I could work, be a full time single parent and do school. I don't have the energy. I'll need to do this before going back to full time work. My kids are both special needs and require lots of doc appts and school meetings too. Most weeks have at least 2-3 things I need to attend (this week it is an IEP meeting and 2 doc appts). One kid will have to do summer school this year, which blows most of July, and I'll be in school too.

roughroadahead posted 6/9/2014 07:40 AM

First, I don't believe in too much education. I have a PhD and a JD and work as an attorney. I don't know much about library science, but I do know that there were two law librarians at school who did not have JDs; however, they may have been experiences university librarians. They did do a lot of research, but it was across several projects. Faculty and students working on law review notes would put in research requests for assistance, and the librarians would do the research (working with students but just producing it for faculty) and then move on to the next request. Research for a PhD is one project to which you devote your entire existence.

I would check out the job market for academic librarians, it can be fairly competitive from what I gather. I completely, totally get having kids with special needs. XH does not have educational decision making, so I have to attend every single IEP meeting etc. The compromise has been that I work in a public interest-y, more flexible, but lower paid area of law. I really love it, but it is definitely stressful with the kids. I also have a largely cooperative XH.

Could you do some research into the fields you're interested in? Maybe a law or other academic librarian would be willing to go to lunch with you to discuss their experience? I wish I had a paralegal, but there can be a lot of research in law. Paralegals in my state can't practice in even a limited capacity, so research and writing is the one advantage they have over a legal secretary.

Good luck!

[This message edited by roughroadahead at 7:52 AM, June 9th (Monday)]

cmego posted 6/9/2014 11:06 AM


Yes, that was my plan for attending a GPS program, my state will not allow paralegals to practice here, and won't for some time. Western US states are more "up and coming" in this area. But, I do LOVE to research and if I end up with a great L to work for, I'd be a happy camper. I am afraid of ending up with a L who will not be supportive of my schedule and special needs kids. It isn't like you can take a day off while prepping for trial.

I'm on my own, only e/o weekend help from ex…so…no help. IEP meeting this afternoon I need to be at shortly too. All on me.

Faculty and students working on law review notes would put in research requests for assistance, and the librarians would do the research (working with students but just producing it for faculty) and then move on to the next request. Research for a PhD is one project to which you devote your entire existence.

^^^^sounds like heaven

My first LGL Research Class was taught by a JD Librarian, and I didn't even think about it as I knew I don't have the time or energy for a JD, so I put it out of my head. Now, after a year of doing nothing but LGL research…I keep returning to that is my "love". Any research, actually. I love it all.

I just need to find my niche. I want to be happy where I work, and this keeps calling me.

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