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(Message started by: Matthew on Feb 23rd, 2007, 9:50am)

Title: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Matthew on Feb 23rd, 2007, 9:50am
Long story short: Got into a top 10 school, deferred admission for a year to think about it some more after getting cold feet, still not sure.

I'm a fresh engineering grad (EE, top of class) and was lured to law school by the 'hot' field of patent law. After talking to a lot of lawyers, I realized the cold hard reality of big-firm life and could never find a single person that said they loved it. Many were suicidal at times. I don't really want to get trapped in that, and I seem to have an alright future in engineering (won't be making $200k in 4 years like I would if I went to this law school and did well, but quality of life is very good) and I'm much more of a science type of person academically and professionally anyway. Is patent law any different? I don't know. Overall, everything about the field of law seemed to be driven by one thing - money. I don't know if I could stomach what it takes to make money the end-all in my life. Plus I'm not a big city person anyway. I have no desire to live in or near a major metropolitan area or work more than 50 hours/week.

So I feel pretty confident in telling the school no thanks, but it's hard to do when I consistently hear family and friends saying 'you got in to ****x-Law and you're not even going? Are you f'ing retarded?' Well, it is $150k in debt...

So, am I really blowing an opportunity of a lifetime or am I right in my research to say 'no thanks'?

I was never really into engineering and hated my first job. Actually I was pre-med for a while before getting involved in the law school admissions process. Recently, I have been considering going and applying to med school. I figure that doctor isn't a bad career and maybe a bit more stable than eng. Any thoughts on that?

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Drew83 on Feb 23rd, 2007, 11:16am
When you say you couldnt find a single person (lawyer) who loved law, are you referring to patent lawyers, or lawyers in other fields?  I've heard a lot of bad things about law, but not so much coming from patent attorney's - I usually get a good vibe from them.  It seems that the stress is a little bit lower and the work hours slightly less for IP law.  I'm currently waiting to hear from law schools, however, I do still have some doubt...

I too have thought about medical school.  What I've been told about medicine (which I'm sure goes with all professions), is to make sure you really want to get into it.  Medical school is a big commitment, but so is law school.  It seems both fields have similar trade-offs with work hours and pay.  I'm sure there are several doctors who dont have much of life.

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Patent-west on Feb 23rd, 2007, 11:36am
Yes please don't go to law school you will be much happier and so will we as the field is getting to crowded as is.  

BTW, I think you have been misguided by non-patent lawyers into thinking this field scuks and has no quality of life.  Started my career doing 3 -4 years of general litigation(non-patent),  then turned to patent law.  The job is extremely relaxed and nothing like what you described.  However, litigation in a general practice firm sounds like what you described above.

 

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Matthew on Feb 23rd, 2007, 11:57am

on 02/23/07 at 11:36:08, Patent-west wrote:
Yes please don't go to law school you will be much happier and so will we as the field is getting to crowded as is.

BTW, I think you have been misguided by non-patent lawyers into thinking this field scuks and has no quality of life. Started my career doing 3 -4 years of general litigation(non-patent), then turned to patent law. The job is extremely relaxed and nothing like what you described. However, litigation in a general practice firm sounds like what you described above.



What I am referring to are firm lawyers. I have 'heard' of in-house IP lawyers that live a comfortable life of 9-5 work days and salaries well into the six-figures with fat corporate retirement plans. But everyone says you have to pay your dues first at big firms. Can you tell me some more about what you do in your job and why you think it's so enjoyable? Why do you like it better than being an engineer?

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by plex on Feb 23rd, 2007, 4:34pm
This is probably a good place for you to go to to ask about IP law, since you may actually run into an actual IP lawyer or at least people who have already spoken with IP lawyers to gain first hand information, you would not be able to get reliable information from a general practice firm because they aren't even able to practice before the USPTO.

The really big firms will work you into the ground, at least if you are referring to the ones in New York or something like them, but those are the ones that require you to work 60-70 hours a week, and wash out well over half their interns/associates. There are also the normal IP firms, which make you only work 50-60 hours a week, and may even let you experience all the aspects of IP law, the pay is less though, usually starting at 70-100k, and going up gradually from there, but you aren't expected to work hellish hours, which is where most of the higher pay comes from in a big slave driver firm.

People are sometimes like lemmings, they will jump into something shiny, even though they know perfectly well it is going to kill them.

I personally am an EE as well, found my courses and work really boring, after learning and perfecting whatever task I was assigned to, I got to look forward to repeating the same monotonous tasks over and over, and then long periods of doing nothing since they only give you a limited amount of work at the entry level.

Studying for the patent bar, I am finding IP law much more interesting, there are so many different types of situations that can arise, so many different types of patents you could be working on, instead of one boring project, and the law isn't even completely developed yet since it has to adjust to new technology and ethical standards developed through case and statutory law. Engineering feels like you are banging your head on a wall of rusty nails trying to get some incompetent supplier to do their job passing on information or waiting for the database to come back up after it crashed for the third time that week, and you are working on the same project as you were last year.

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Isaac on Feb 24th, 2007, 8:45pm

on 02/23/07 at 16:34:24, plex wrote:
The really big firms will work you into the ground, at least if you are referring to the ones in New York or something like them, but those are the ones that require you to work 60-70 hours a week, and wash out well over half their interns/associates. There are also the normal IP firms, which make you only work 50-60 hours a week, and may even let you experience all the aspects of IP law, the pay is less though, usually starting at 70-100k,


IMO someone unwilling to work 50 hours a week is probably going to find paying off 150K in school loans a miserable task.   If working 9/5 is really a priority for you, you are probably going about things the wrong way.



Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by plex on Feb 24th, 2007, 11:55pm
50 hours was the low end of the range, since that is the lowest I have heard an IP lawyer mention, and it isn't unreasonable to ask someone to work 70 or 80 hours when something really important comes up, but to expect someone to work 70-80 or 80+ hours as the base amount, with no reasonable chance of advancement even putting in those hours, is a ridiculous waste of time.

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Isaac on Feb 25th, 2007, 8:58am

on 02/24/07 at 23:55:39, plex wrote:
50 hours was the low end of the range, since that is the lowest I have heard an IP lawyer mention, and it isn't unreasonable to ask someone to work 70 or 80 hours when something really important comes up, but to expect someone to work 70-80 or 80+ hours as the base amount, with no reasonable chance of advancement even putting in those hours, is a ridiculous waste of time.


I am at a DC firm, but I don't know anyone doing prosecution who routinely works 70+ hours.   Averages of 50-60 are typical.  People who do routinely work large number of hours or for whom large number of hours result from important things coming up are generally compensated for doing so.

I understand your personal distaste for working 80 hour weeks hours, and I don't have any problem with that.   I wouldn't want to do it.   IMO those large numbers you quote are a mischaracterization of what I see (in DC) and further I wouldn't calll them a waste of time for people who do work them and are compensated accordingly.

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by daven on Feb 25th, 2007, 7:21pm
Matthew, you say you have a bright future in engineering.  I'll go ahead and post this so you can refer back to it in a few years.. after you've been working in engineering.

You seem to be someone who enjoys new challenges and learning new things.  You might get lucky, but more than likely your job will become boring after a year or two.  You'll miss the challenge of college classes.  I believe you'll fall into a rut in engineering and will regret turning down law school.  Yea, you can always go back to school later but it gets tough to do the older you get.

In my opinion, you really are crazy to turn it down!  Suck it up for a few more years.:)

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Drew83 on Feb 25th, 2007, 8:16pm
this link may help...

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/02/21/law-blog-advice-column-is-patent-law-different/

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Matthew on Feb 26th, 2007, 10:02pm

on 02/25/07 at 19:21:45, daven wrote:
Matthew, you say you have a bright future in engineering. I'll go ahead and post this so you can refer back to it in a few years.. after you've been working in engineering.

You seem to be someone who enjoys new challenges and learning new things. You might get lucky, but more than likely your job will become boring after a year or two. You'll miss the challenge of college classes. I believe you'll fall into a rut in engineering and will regret turning down law school. Yea, you can always go back to school later but it gets tough to do the older you get.

In my opinion, you really are crazy to turn it down! Suck it up for a few more years.:)


You don't think that IP/patent law is boring or that you can get stuck in a rut in it? I've heard that it can be really mundane.

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by jayg on Feb 28th, 2007, 8:17pm
I am an IP attorney in a small midwestern law firm.  I graduated from law school in May 2006 and am pushing 6 figures.  I work around 60 hours per week.  I love my job.. it can be stressful when you have a week with multiple deadlines, but every job has its times like that.

Also, I worked as an EE for a year after undergraduate and absolutely hated it.  While I worked only 40 hours per week, those 40 hours went by a lot slower than the 60 I do now because the work was so monotonous, routine, and boring.  At my current position I am dealing with different issues on a daily basis

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by Drew83 on Mar 1st, 2007, 10:48am
does this not apply to patent law?  It seems that over time, drafting patents can get slightly monotonous/boring...

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by bjr on Mar 1st, 2007, 2:52pm
"I realized the cold hard reality of big-firm life and could never find a single person that said they loved it. Many were suicidal at times. I have no desire to live in or near a major metropolitan area or work more than 50 hours/week. "

Neither law nor medicine are appropriate fields for you if you don't want to work 50 hours per week.  I suggest that you find a sugarmama.

Title: Re: Am I stupid to turn down law school?
Post by biopico on Mar 1st, 2007, 3:44pm
When I was finishing my PhD thesis many years ago, I was having lunch with a young scientist.  He was saying some of his frustration in his research.  At that time, I thought he was just an average scientist.

He got a nobel prize last year and I am changing my career to patent law.  

My point:  The nobel prize winner had a rewarding exp in his scientific career, but not for me.  So I am changing.    

What would be most rewarding in your career short term and/or long term?  Then GO FOR IT!



 


on 03/01/07 at 10:48:40, Drew83 wrote:
does this not apply to patent law? It seems that over time, drafting patents can get slightly monotonous/boring...




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