By my second year of law school, I knew that I wanted to join the academy rather than enter practice. Of course, this decision would come at a cost. I would lose sleep, sanity, and the lucrative rewards of private practice. After graduation, I clerked for two different judges, in part, to spend time thinking about my future and to confirm my decision to forgo practice.
I continued to write and never wavered in my professorial dreams. But I began asking questions less suited for legal scholarship as I read more political-science literature in the field of bureaucracy. Concurrently, I realized that I would be happy researching/teaching in a number of fields—law, political science, or public policy. Meanwhile, I watched as the law-school hiring market both dipped and started to lean more heavily toward Ph.D. applicants. Despite the obstacles and uncertainties of the market, I made the decision to apply for graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in Political Science.
Sometime in Fall 2017, I got lunch with a former professor (and mentor) of mine. I told her of my plans but expressed frustration at searching for a program that fit my interests. She remarked, “What about Vanderbilt?” “Vanderbilt?,” I asked. “Yeah. Vanderbilt has a lot of folks studying bureaucracy.”
In December, I uploaded all of my applications. By February, my hair line had receded a bit. And, in March, I began the uncomfortable visit process.
Now, the dust has settled on the harrowing application process. I am proud to announce that I will begin my Ph.D. in Political Science at Vanderbilt University starting Fall 2018. I could not be happier with my decision. Vanderbilt is home to a number of political scientists who research bureaucracy, including David Lewis, Sharece Thrower, Alan Wiseman, and Ed Rubin. This list excludes many of the other great scholars that I will be fortunate enough to learn from during graduate school. Moreover, Vanderbilt Law School is home to respected Administrative Law scholars, who I hope I have the opportunity to meet and work with.
Thank you to everyone who was supportive during this process. I am excited to begin this next chapter in my career, even if it leaves me a little poorer and a little more sleep-deprived.