Opportunities in Law for Graduate and Professional Students in Other Fields

Students interested in adding legal training to their graduate and professional degrees now find a streamlined application process, two potential degrees to choose from, and an interdisciplinary and engaged faculty at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.  High-achieving students may qualify to apply without taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and dual-enrollment may allow completion of the J.D. in less than the typical three additional years of study.  A law degree can also be a powerful credential for students who have completed their graduate studies, but desire to stay in Tucson at this great research university.  Financial aid, including full scholarships, research fellowships, and teaching stipends, are available for qualified students.

For students in STEM fields, in particular, there are unique opportunities in intellectual property and other legal and policy issues raised by science and technology.   There are a wide range of fields, including the social and behavioral sciences, as well as business and psychology, where the study of law can enrich scholarship and create new and wider job options.  Dean Marc Miller has emphasized that, "we are interested in combining the deeper knowledge, discipline, and maturity that comes with graduate study from across fields with the study of the law."

An Interdisciplinary Faculty for Cross-Cutting Questions

Our faculty thrive in interdisciplinary work.  Robert Glennon holds a Ph.D. in history, and works on environmental issues.  Kathie Barnes has a doctorate in statistics, and teaches in the graduate interdisciplinary stats program.  Derek Bambauer draws on his experience in the tech industries, to inform his intellectual property analyses.  Willie Jordan Curtis applies her doctorate in clinical psychology to the counseling of students.  Sergio Puig has a doctorate in the social sciences, as they apply to law.  Jamie Ratner applies his master’s degree in economics to his contracts and antitrust pedagogy.   Jane Bambauer is leading a QuantLaw program, which connects big data with new legal questions.  Carol Rose brings doctoral training in history, as well as a master’s degree in political science, to the study of property law and race.  Mona Hymel brings her CPA to the study of taxation and incentives for environmental protection. Simone Sepe draws on his doctoral training in economics to inform the study of corporate finance, and is delving ever more deeply into philosophical questions.  Christopher Robertson secured a doctorate in philosophy before going on to law school, where he branched from bioethics into health law.  

These are just examples – virtually every member of the faculty draws on empirical methods, engages deeply with theory from other fields, and co-authors with scholars from other disciplines to answer the big questions. Graduate students feel right at home in the College of Law.

A Long Tradition of UA Graduate Students Crossing Over Into Law

Hundreds of students have successfully blended graduate study in another field with a degree from the James E. Rogers College of Law.  A few examples:

  • Elizabeth Hall-Lipsy completed a Master’s in Public Health as well as a Juris Doctor, and now serves as a professor in the UA College of Pharmacy. 
  • Thomas Hudson completed a Doctorate in Philosophy concurrently with a J.D., and now litigates cases in the United States Supreme Court and other appellate courts, working in one of the top firms in Phoenix.
  • John Taylor completed a Doctorate in Political Science along with his law degree, and is now a leading land use and environmental law attorney in the California capitol. 
  • Clark Taylor is following in his father’s dual-degree footsteps, but with computer science as his doctoral field.  
  • Emily Peiffer completed a J.D. and Master’s in Latin American Studies in 2014, and now works as a successful attorney at Tucson.
  • Francisco Aguilar now serves as general counsel for the management company for Andre Agassi and Stephanie Graf, and their related foundation, following his J.D. and MBA studies.
  • Shannon O'Loughlin completed a J.D. along with a Master’s in American Indian Studies, and is a leading attorney in that field, including service as chief of staff to the National Indian Gaming Commission.
  • David Yokum completed a Ph.D. in Psychology concurrently with a J.D., and then joined the White House Social Behavioral Sciences Team to conduct field experiments in the federal government.
  • Robyn Interpreter is a leading tribal water law attorney, building on her Master’s and J.D. training. 
  • Cara Crowley-Weber received her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology, with a minor in Pharmacology and Toxicology, before completing her JD, and is now a successful intellectual property attorney practicing in Denver.
     
     

Current and recent students include those coming from Women’s Studies, Clinical Psychology, Geography & Development, Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English, Sociology, Latin American Studies, Business Administration, and Computer Science, among many others. 

Two Curricular Paths through the Law

For over 100 years, the College has offered the juris doctor (J.D.), the traditional degree that qualifies students to take the bar exam and to practice as attorneys.  This is traditionally a three-year course of study, with the first-year curriculum largely fixed and the second and third years for electives, clinical experiences, and a substantial paper.  However, students pursuing a graduate degree in another field may add the J.D. in less than three additional years, given that about a semester of course-work can typically be cross-counted for both degrees.  Additionally, with the agreement of advisors in both programs, students have been able to combine their substantial paper for the J.D., along with strategic use of independent studies, in ways that also make progress towards their other degree.

In recent years, the College has also begun offering a Master of Legal Studies (MLS).  This degree is an excellent option for students who wish to secure legal training to enhance their expertise in another field, but do not seek to practice as an attorney in the United States.  Consisting of only 30 units, some of which may cross-count with other programs, this degree can be secured with only one additional year of study. Students have paired the MLS with such degrees as the Master of Real Estate Development, Master’s in Development Practice, MA/Ph.D. in American Indian Studies, and Ph.D. in Arid Lands Resource Sciences. Ph.D. students may also elect to minor in Law and double-count those credits toward an MLS.

For additional information about curricular pathways, contact the College of Law Registrar or Director of the MLS Program.

Dual Degree, Concurrent Study, or Sequential Study

The College of Law has more than a dozen established dual degree programs.  However, any student can complete a J.D. concurrently with another graduate degree, and often save time by strategic use of cross-listed courses, cross-registering for courses, and thoughtfully using writing opportunities to serve both degree requirements.  The key is to establish and maintain good communication with advisors in both programs.  Because the first-year of law school is less flexible, dual and concurrent degree students will need to plan that year carefully with their other department.  Dual and concurrent study may also have financial advantages described below. 

Although dual and concurrent studies have the advantage of potentially reducing the time to complete both degrees, many other students have successfully completed the J.D. after having completed their other graduate studies.   The advantage of this path is that students may be able to concentrate more fully on all the opportunities available at the law school, from student-edited journals to a wide-range of electives and clinical practice experiences, without having to make compromises between their two programs. 

Finances and Opportunities

Dual and concurrent degree students are eligible for merit-based and need-based scholarships, and some students have attended at no additional cost out-of-pocket, while continuing to earn GA stipends from their graduate departments.  Other students have undertaken student loans to cover tuition, fees, and living expenses.  Students who have graduate assistantships (or other employment at the University, or benefits through their families), may be eligible for qualified tuition reduction.  Additional information is available through the financial aid office.

The College of Law also has opportunities to receive funding for teaching, research, and administrative support of the College, not unlike the assistantships offered elsewhere in the University.   These opportunities vary widely from year to year, and depend on the students’ particular skillsets, but they offer both income and professional development experiences for qualified students.

Admissions Requirements

The pathway into law school has never been easier.  For qualified students, we are now able to make JD admissions decisions on the basis of GRE scores, rather than the LSAT.  Some students may prefer to take the LSAT, however.  We can discuss which path is best for you.  MLS admission does not require standardized test scores. 
 

Contact

Feel free to contact any member of the faculty, who works in areas of interest to you.  Additionally:

  • Cary Lee Cluck, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid
  • Keith Swisher, Professor of Legal Ethics; Director, Undergraduate Legal Studies and Master of Legal Studies Programs
  • Christopher Robertson, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation;
  • Marc Miller, Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law
  • Katherine Barnes, Professor of Law; Associate Dean for Programs & Innovation; Director of the Rogers Program on Law and Society; Associate Professor of Economics (courtesy)