Should I go back to school for another degree?

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charon
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:29 am

Should I go back to school for another degree?

Postby charon » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:15 pm

Standard info: 3.92, 169

Short version: After doing a lot of soul searching about what area of law I want to study, I feel that I would most enjoy working with medical and biotech patents. However, I don't have a degree in engineering or the sciences, so as things are I can't sit for the patent bar. Would going back to school to get a science or engineering degree be worth it if I feel strongly enough that patents are the area for me, or would it be better to go ahead with law school and hope for the best?

Further explanation: Going into college I had only a vague idea of what I wanted to study. I knew that I would probably end up going to law school, but that was about as specific as my thoughts got concerning the future. I decided that since law school didn't require a specific degree, I would just try out a few majors and see if any stuck, instead of picking a major right away. The end result was a General Studies degree, with minors in accounting, economics, psychology, and Japanese. I had a wonderful time exploring the different fields that I took classes in, and I wouldn't change that experience even if I was given the chance.

Now that the time has come to send in my applications, I have been spending a significant amount of time researching schools and potential areas of concentration. I want to find something that would justify (for me at least) the debt that would come with my law degree and the long hours I would put in once I started working. As I mentioned above, I have concluded that practicing patent law, specifically concerning medical and/or biotech patents, would be something that I would truly enjoy doing. No other concentration that I have researched seems nearly as interesting. The problem is that I don't have the technical knowledge or the right degree for it.

I would like some opinions on whether or not I should go back to school to pursue a more technical degree. So far I am leaning towards going back, but I know that's a big commitment to make when I haven't "known" all along that patent law is what I want to study. If anyone has been in a similar situation or has any advice, I would greatly appreciate it. I think I'll start a pros/cons list as well to help with the decision.

Pros:
- Going back would allow me to sit for the patent bar (obv).
- If I decide on one law school for sure, I could do my undergrad in that state and establish residency.
- At the very least, if I came out the other end not wanting to go to law school anymore, a degree in engineering or the sciences would probably do much more for my job opportunities than a General Studies degree.
- With the extra time I might be able to improve my LSAT.

Cons:
- If I get to law school afterwards and decide patent law isn't what I want to do, there goes 3+ years and thousands of dollars down the drain.
- Life in a lab: A fate worse than death?
Last edited by charon on Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mrtoren
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Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:43 pm

Re: Should I go back to school for another degree?

Postby mrtoren » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:32 pm

You sound like kind of a lost butterfly. Based on your prior background, I would venture to say that you have no idea what kind of law you really want to study. It sounds like you did some googling, found out patent law is in demand, decided that was your best bet to find a job, and now want to make it happen. In reality, you haven't taken any courses in the material and don't know whether its a good fit for you. Barring you can go back to an undergraduate university for free, I wouldn't take on the additional debt. Patent lawyers are in short supply because few candidates decide to study the sciences from the start with an intent to apply to law school later on. By the time most graduate, the debt load isn't worth going back for the science degree.

Its your call, but I don't think you'll be very successful if you try to force yourself into becoming a patent lawyer. Its something that few people are lucky enough to fall into.

senorhosh
Posts: 470
Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:45 am

Re: Should I go back to school for another degree?

Postby senorhosh » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:55 pm

I'd say no.
This is going to be a massive commitment of your time and money.
You might take 3 years of science and hate it. You might not even want to do patent law anymore.
All those years of schooling, you might as well take a year of taking science courses, take the mcat, and apply to med school.

You're investing a huge amount into a goal that is somewhat narrow. Sure, you can go use your engineering or science degree on something. But consider this:
1. Engineering degrees aren't useful without a good GPA, which is not guaranteed. And the better jobs are available with a postgrad degree.
2. A hard science degree in biology/chemisty/physics won't do much good in the job market. You'll most likely get a job spending everyday in lab doing assays, chromatography, and other tedious work for a higher-up doing the research. Jobs where your knowledge of science is actually put to use most likely requires a masters or a PhD.

In conclusion, there are too many factors involved for your plan to work "well", and takes very little for it to go wrong.

charon
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:29 am

Re: Should I go back to school for another degree?

Postby charon » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:13 pm

mrtoren wrote:You sound like kind of a lost butterfly. Based on your prior background, I would venture to say that you have no idea what kind of law you really want to study. It sounds like you did some googling, found out patent law is in demand, decided that was your best bet to find a job, and now want to make it happen. In reality, you haven't taken any courses in the material and don't know whether its a good fit for you. Barring you can go back to an undergraduate university for free, I wouldn't take on the additional debt. Patent lawyers are in short supply because few candidates decide to study the sciences from the start with an intent to apply to law school later on. By the time most graduate, the debt load isn't worth going back for the science degree.

Its your call, but I don't think you'll be very successful if you try to force yourself into becoming a patent lawyer. Its something that few people are lucky enough to fall into.


I suppose I am a bit of a lost butterfly. Maybe more than a bit. I just don't want to come out of law school the way I came out of undergrad, with no clear direction to go in. During freshman year I took all of the freshman sciences and did very well, but since I had an interest in law and wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do, I followed my family's advice and tried out several different majors, even though I was becoming interested enough in science (Biology in particular) to consider the med school route instead. As I've said, I had a wonderful time being able to experience so many different fields, but I've often wondered how things would be if I had continued to take science courses. I guess I'm trying to make up for that by making a choice about what I want to study before I start law school.

As for my interest in medical patent law, it stems from those "what if" thoughts about my future had a stuck with science. Like you said, I don't have any in-depth course work to back this up, but I genuinely have a strong interest in subjects like prosthesis and artificial organs. The fact that patent law is in demand was just icing on the pipe-dream cake.

Overall though, I think you're right. Going back without having more coursework to back my interest would be a gamble, and there's nothing to say that I won't find something I would enjoy even more once I'm in law school.

Thank you very much for your reply

charon
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:29 am

Re: Should I go back to school for another degree?

Postby charon » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:20 pm

senorhosh wrote:I'd say no.
This is going to be a massive commitment of your time and money.
You might take 3 years of science and hate it. You might not even want to do patent law anymore.
All those years of schooling, you might as well take a year of taking science courses, take the mcat, and apply to med school.

You're investing a huge amount into a goal that is somewhat narrow. Sure, you can go use your engineering or science degree on something. But consider this:
1. Engineering degrees aren't useful without a good GPA, which is not guaranteed. And the better jobs are available with a postgrad degree.
2. A hard science degree in biology/chemisty/physics won't do much good in the job market. You'll most likely get a job spending everyday in lab doing assays, chromatography, and other tedious work for a higher-up doing the research. Jobs where your knowledge of science is actually put to use most likely requires a masters or a PhD.

In conclusion, there are too many factors involved for your plan to work "well", and takes very little for it to go wrong.


I think this pretty well sums up my fears for going back, especially #2. I was very interested in the lower level sciences and did well (highest grade in honors bio whoo!!!!---sorry), but I strongly disliked lab and wouldn't want to live my life in one.

Thank you for the answer!




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