Lawyer to teacher?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by dc714, May 15, 2008.

  1. dc714

    dc714 New Member

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    May 15, 2008

    I'm new to this forum so apologies if this topic has already been covered. I'm a bit of a walking cliche but I'm a 31-year old lawyer who is seriously thinking about becoming a teacher. Ideally, I'd love to teach history or poli-sci at the high school level. I received my college and law degrees from ivy league schools. But the forums I've read have repeatedly stated that history teachers are "a dime a dozen" and hence those positions are extremely competitive. Does having a law degree provides any kind of advantage in competing for high school social studies teaching positions?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    May 15, 2008

    Welcome to A to Z, dc714.

    This may not be quite the answer you were looking for, but here's a way to consider making yourself marketable: Offer yourself as someone with skills in analysis, synthesis, critical thinking and reading, and test taking. The last of these could be a big selling point, given the annual tests and the CAHSEE exit exam.
     
  4. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    May 15, 2008

    dc714,
    It depends entirely on the principal. Some principals will value your credentials, and some won't. My mother has an Ivy League education, and there were several principals who hadn't heard of her alma mater. Others were really impressed. Some principals were impressed by my law degree while others didn't care. I had better luck interviewing with high-needs schools, which I think just needed warm bodies, and schools on the other end of the spectrum that emphasized high academic rigor than the schools that were kind of in the middle.

    The job market is a lot more competitive for social studies teachers than math, science and English. If you can get a credential to teach English, I'd recommend doing that as a back-up plan, but you can probably get a job teaching history. I did, and everybody told me that it wouldn't happen.

    I also recommend looking into fellowship programs like NYC Teaching Fellows, Miami Teaching Fellows, Boston Teaching Residency, Teach for America, Teach NOLA, Mississippi Teaching Corps and so on. Those programs look favorably upon education and good credentials, so while they're competitive, I found it was sometimes easier to get an interview through those programs.

    You can private message me if you have specific questions.
     
  5. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    May 15, 2008

    That's great advice Newbie1234...you too TG;)
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 15, 2008

    We have a number of lawyer-teacher convertees at our school because ours is a Law magnet school. You might want to look for similar programs in your area.
     
  7. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    May 15, 2008

    It's great that your school hires people with law degrees, and it's something to look into, but I wouldn't recommend focusing on those programs. I interviewed with several schools that had pre-law magnet programs, and they were more interested in teaching experience than subject-matter knowledge. In fact, one principal I interviewed with I posted about here; she told me that I'd never get a job evahhh. It really just comes down to the principal's preferences; some will take a chance on career changers. Some won't.
     
  8. colormegreen

    colormegreen Rookie

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    May 15, 2008

    Hi - I too am a lawyer to teacher convert. I though am teaching elementary students. It is true that History Teachers are a dime a dozen and they go to people who are also willing and or are ready coaches. I am mixed on the whole letting the schools know at the interview process about my law background - like the poster before said some will be impressed others won't or will be put off by it and some will think you want their job. I know that it won't add to your pay scale since it is not an "education degree" but that is where I am now and where I was before (MI).

    I think that you can get a History position but like newbie1234 said have some sort of back up plan or other major to teach if possible.

    Hope this helps and doesn't discourage you. If you have been thinking about this for awhile and keep going back to teaching then you should do it -I don't regret the change to teaching I am more fulfilled and happier although I am far from family and most friends and there was a big adjustment to a new state, however I am more content with teaching. :)
     
  9. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 15, 2008

    I converted from law to teaching after 2 years of working for a rather large firm (I too went to an Ivy League!). I got a job at the High School that I graduated from so I can't speak about the job competition, however I would suggest for you to get involved in a mock trial program at a local school; they are always looking for lawyer coaches. Thats how I got my foot in the door.
     
  10. NewNYCTeach

    NewNYCTeach Rookie

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    I know of at least once school in NYC that is a legal themed school and specifies "legal background preferred" for history teachers.

    Someone else mentioned the NYC teaching fellows, which is the program I am getting certified through. NYC really needs math & science teachers. I know there were a ton of applicants who wanted to do Special Ed but were turned down. That is the only subject area you can do with any BA, and is turning out to be more competitive because of it.

    The teaching fellows program accepts very few, if any, elementary and social studies applicants. I would guess that similar programs in CA would be the same way.

    At least you're planning on teaching something related to law! I am leaving law also, but to teach Biology :unsure: I have a background in it, but nothing related on my resume!
     
  11. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    May 15, 2008

    I'm in a district that pays more for a JD, but I don't know how common that is.
     
  12. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    Like I said, I'm now really wary of those programs because the impression I got was that principals wanted teachers who took a few pre-law courses in college, or former paralegals with a strong teaching background. That's definitely not the case at every high school law program, and it's definitely worth applying, but I'd be careful not to put all my eggs in one basked.
     
  13. loman

    loman Rookie

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    May 15, 2008

    I'm a certified social studies teacher. As a social studies teacher, you will face a very very difficult job market. Usually 100-200 applicants to a position.

    As an Ivy league grad, you will have a small leg up. I once got a an interview at a very good public school because of my school, gpa, and test scores. But many many more schools did not care. I also know a Ivy League history undegrad major who had an easier time in the job market, but still had to take a job at a rough urban school.

    Just think very very carefully about your decision. Do you want to teach so badly that you will wait years in a bad school, or as a substitute or paraprofessional? If so, go for social studies, because you will find a way in. If not, you may find yourself in more debt and without a job.
     
  14. blessedhands

    blessedhands Comrade

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    May 16, 2008

    I have a professor that switched and is now teaching in College.

    Why don't you review the option of becoming a Professor and teach History there?
     
  15. NewNYCTeach

    NewNYCTeach Rookie

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    May 16, 2008

    I think a job teaching undergrad "law & ethics" or similar courses would be easier than history at the college level. Even then, there are not many openings. At least here in NY, there is even more competition for jobs at colleges than in secondary school. Even community colleges are starting to require PhDs! A JD is just not 'academic' enough for many colleges.
     

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