As an extension of our last post, we wanted to share another perspective with you about pursuing an MPA and/or a JD. As the last part of this series (for now), we want to introduce you to Lori Gershon. Lori is in her first year of the MPA program. She was a practicing attorney for 22 years, focused on child welfare. Lori was actively appearing in court and trying cases up until the time she began the MPA program. Check out Lori’s perspective on the JD and the MPA.
Why did you choose law?
Lori: I always wanted to help people, especially vulnerable populations (kids, elderly, victims of domestic violence) and I thought using the law would be a powerful tool to achieve that goal. My seventh grade English teacher planted the initial seed, even though in retrospect it was probably because I was argumentative.
What made you decide to pursue an MPA?
Lori: At this point in my career, I was looking for a leadership and management position. I want to take the years of experience in the community and in the courtroom and apply them on a larger scale. But, I needed to learn management and administration skills which is why I applied to the MPA program.
What is law school like vs the MPA program?
Lori: Law school is its own creature. It focuses on teaching you a new way of thinking and solving problems. It is more rigid than the MPA program. The MPA program teaches through creativity and theory, and not through rules and precedent. Both are valuable means of solving a problem, but they are very different.
What do you hope to do with your MPA degree after graduation?
Lori: I hope to continue to serve the public in local government.
If you could do it all over again, would you still get your JD?
Lori: Absolutely! I have enjoyed being a lawyer and have gained valuable analytical skills that serve me. I have had the privilege of helping children and families achieve justice and have played a role in ensuring a fair system.
Any advice for someone contemplating between a JD and an MPA?
Lori: I would recommend highly getting both a JD and MPA. If someone would like to work in the courtroom and in a law firm first, I would advise getting the JD first and taking time to work to get the most courtroom/real life experience, and then take time off to get the MPA. If someone knows that they prefer to go directly into management and bypass the courtroom/in the trenches experience, then I would recommend a dual degree program to receive the JD and MPA in a combined course of study.
Thanks, Lori! We hope that these two perspectives were helpful in helping you choose between MPA and JD or pursuing both!