Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Molly Brady ’11, PhD candidate

I decided to pursue a PhD degree in law here at Yale because I was set on becoming a law professor, and I thought that this provided the absolute best path for doing that. Not only because you get formal training in the workshopping of legal articles and the drafting of legal articles but also because you have the faculty that would be willing to supervise you and see you through the academic job market process. In addition, because we’re affiliated with the Yale Graduate School, I’ve been able to take advantages of many opportunities there. I’ve pursued formal pedagogical training with the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning, and I’ve also made great contacts in both the history and political science departments that have greatly improved my methodologies in those fields.

My research ideas have evolved a great deal since I began my degree studies. When I started here I was really embedded in property and land use scholarship, but I was unsure how to evaluate empirical pieces or an international law article, for example. Now, after the training I’ve gotten in this program, I really can look for commonalities across fields in legal scholarship, so things like the distribution of authority or top down versus bottom up decision making—these are controversies in all different subfields within law. Now I can have conversations with people in all different areas of law faculties and feel much more qualified to comment on debates in their fields.

Yale provides so many resources for the academic job market. It starts early in the PhD program. You workshop your work early and often. Then, as you get closer to the academic job market, Yale offers a number of practice opportunities for you to hone your interviewing skills. There is a mock job interview like you might endure in the first round of the interviewing process. There’s also moot camp, which means you give your job talk to Yale faculty and students and have about thirty minutes of questioning, which really gives you a chance to practice the on-campus interview.

The community of PhD students has been wonderful. The program leaders take care to make sure that the people in each year of the program are approaching different questions or maybe from different subfields, so really your cohort is like a microcosm of a law faculty. Also we really have a custom of reading each other’s work and offering comments, supporting each other through the article submission process, and then eventually on the academic job market. I really couldn’t be more grateful to start my career with this built-in group of friends to keep me accountable. 

A student perspective on property law, the PhD degree, the job market process, and the graduate programs at Yale Law School.