Engineering to Law - should I do it?

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Nicobella

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Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby Nicobella » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:16 pm

Hello,

I’m graduating from a top 25 school in chemical engineering this May (not that it matters for law from what I’ve heard). My school GPA is currently a 3.786 but my LSAC GPA I believe is around a 3.80 due to some classes I took at another institution.

Not the best GPA, but I had some health issues my first semester and ended up taking a semester off, so I’ll be writing an addendum about that. My GPA shows a strong upward trend.

I am really interested in law, but the enormous amount of debt has been really concerning me lately.

I have a job post graduation at an oil and gas company and will be making ~100k. I’ve heard the company is great, but I just can’t decide if it’s worth even considering law school at this point. I think I’d be happy with either career, although I like the versatility law will bring me.

Any advice? Also, will working at a very well known company help me in law admissions?

I’m taking the LSAT in June and shooting for at least a 170. Ideally would love to go to UMich, Northwestern, Duke, or Virginia (in that order). Don’t think I have the caliber for much higher.

Thank you :)

dassale1

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby dassale1 » Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:49 pm

I'm also a petroleum engineer and I've been working for 3 years. I had the same concern about debt but being a lawyer is my dream and with a good job upon graduation or good scholarship... we can clear the debt fast. I'm a Christian so o believe on God's grace to help me.

I am alsonplannomh on taking the lsat in July. We can study together if you don't mind. PM me

Npret

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby Npret » Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:19 pm

No. You need to wrk a few years before you even consider law school.

barkschool

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby barkschool » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:04 pm

Npret wrote:No. You need to wrk a few years before you even consider law school.


+1

Go be an engineer for a bit. That’s probably a sweet gig.

miskellyjohnson

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby miskellyjohnson » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:31 pm

Working for a year or two will probably help you with admissions (depending on the school), may help you get a job down the line (depending on the field/firm), and may help you get clients way down the line (especially in something like O&G, its one of those fields that you can hark back to your time out in the refineries when you are pitching clients).

Be aware that O&G can be a fun field, lots of diversity (much moreso than law), but its also a boom and bust job. When gas prices tank, you will be worrying about your job security. But for a year to a few years, I would definitely recommend doing it while considering a switch to law.

L_William_W

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby L_William_W » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:59 am

Don't do it. Stay in engineering. I entered college as a civil engineering major switched majors since I hated math. To this day, I regret my decision. Engineering is my passion. America is inundated with lawyers, but not that many people are in STEM fields. All lawyers care about is money and all they do is lie and stab each other in the back. You're making good money and helping society. Don't make my mistake.

albanach

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby albanach » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:25 pm

Nicobella wrote:I think I’d be happy with either career, although I like the versatility law will bring me.


What versatility do you think a JD brings? It qualifies you to be a lawyer.

A very small number will work on a path that takes then in-house and then into a management role in a legal heavy area like compliance, HR, or real estate.

Certainly there are numerous legal fields, however once you separate litigation from transactional law, the day job has a lot of similarities.

You probably have more versatility and earning potential as an engineer.

QContinuum

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby QContinuum » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:17 pm

L_William_W wrote:Don't do it. Stay in engineering. I entered college as a civil engineering major switched majors since I hated math. To this day, I regret my decision. Engineering is my passion. America is inundated with lawyers, but not that many people are in STEM fields. All lawyers care about is money and all they do is lie and stab each other in the back. You're making good money and helping society. Don't make my mistake.

I think the above is a bit overstated. There are many STEM fields where it's not easy to find a well-paying job (particularly the sciences). Also, I absolutely don't think it's true that "[a]ll [lawyers] do is lie and stab each other in the back." I have not witnessed any outrageously unethical behavior from any of the lawyers I have known or worked with. In contrast, I have witnessed, over the years, quite a few shockingly unethical acts by various unscrupulous real estate agents, contractors, businesspeople, trade professionals, and entrepreneurs. I will not claim that the average lawyer is more ethical than, say, the average real estate agent (it's possible, but we don't have the data to say either way), but it's certainly wildly off the mark to say that all lawyers are slimy backstabbers. It's a bit like car salespeople, who also get tarred with an unfortunate stereotype, but who (in my experience, at least) don't actually deserve the bad rep.

All that said, I agree with the consensus ITT that OP should at least give O&G a try for a year or two before deciding whether to decamp for law.

Nicobella

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby Nicobella » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:00 pm

Thanks everyone!

I'm starting my job in July, taking the LSAT in June, so I'll see how it goes before applying in October or so. I plan to work at least one year minimum, but probably not more than 2 or 3 if I make the transition.

When I speak to versatility, I just mean more broad options for different industries. I concentrated in biomolecular sciences with my degree, so it would be nice to get into health law or something. Or even patents for Pharma, assuming I don't need a PhD.

It sounds like based on your comments it might only be advisable to make the switch if I'm pretty set on patent law? In terms of stability I feel like that would be the best way to make law school worth it. Pending on how I feel about O&G of course.

Thanks again!

QContinuum

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby QContinuum » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:08 pm

Nicobella wrote:It sounds like based on your comments it might only be advisable to make the switch if I'm pretty set on patent law? In terms of stability I feel like that would be the best way to make law school worth it. Pending on how I feel about O&G of course.

Thanks again!

No, you should make the switch if and only if you feel a burning desire to practice law.

You're right about the "versatility" of a J.D. within the legal world. From a T13/T20, you could snag a litigation or corporate M&A job just as easily as you could snag a patent law job. Heck, you could become a tax lawyer. You are not limited to patent law. Your engineering background and work experience would be an advantage should you actually enter patent law (whether in patent prosecution - the work of applying for patents - or patent litigation), but if you were to attend law school at a T13/T20, you would not be constrained to working in patent law by any means.

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UVA2B

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby UVA2B » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:13 pm

If you want versatility, law school may be a good option because it gives you the opportunity to move away from your engineering background (such as going into health law), but realize that how you tailor your job search in the law will also commit you to a career path that you can only move away from by leaving it entirely. And health law is a practice area, but you'll definitely want to research it more before you decide it's something you want to do (the legal side of the health care industry can be radically different than the engineering/biomedical side of it). Same goes for patent law, which you could possibly do with your degree, depending on how you do in law school and what law school you go to if/when you decide to go.

It's in no way required that you only make the switch if you want to go into patent law, but that's your primary advantage as a law school applicant that gives you a leg up in finding a job. Engineers are relatively rare in law school, so they have a bit more room for error in getting a job out of law school than the average law school graduate might if they want to go into patent law, where being patent bar eligible is an advantage. If you want to go into health law, that advantage somewhat diminishes because health law isn't necessarily predicated on having a background like yours (don't get me wrong, it can help some, but you'll be more heavily relying on law school and performance than you would in the patent law field).

If you do well on the LSAT and decide you don't like your job after a year or two, absolutely reengage with the idea of pursuing a career in law. It might be the right fit for you. But you won't definitively know that until you put yourself into your upcoming job thinking you want to do well in that job and potentially advance in it, because your best bet is to do well in this job, learn in/from it, grow from it, and then decide down the line what is best for you and your career.

Edit: Scooped by Q

dabigchina

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby dabigchina » Sun Jan 20, 2019 6:07 pm

100k straight out of undergrad (assuming ok hours) is every practicing lawyer's dream job. Don't squander it by going to law school.

Look into FIRE. Save your money and retire at 40. You'll be happier than any lawyer I know.

QContinuum

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby QContinuum » Sun Jan 20, 2019 6:42 pm

dabigchina wrote:100k straight out of undergrad (assuming ok hours) is every practicing lawyer's dream job. Don't squander it by going to law school.

Look into FIRE. Save your money and retire at 40. You'll be happier than any lawyer I know.

To be fair, it isn't all about the money. I'm sure I'd be financially better off if I'd stuck with my original plan and gone "K-MD," but I know now that being a doctor is not for me. Likewise, it's perfectly valid for an engineer to decide that s/he wants to practice law instead of engineering.

The issue here is that OP hasn't yet tried being an engineer, and hasn't expressed any sort of burning desire to practice law. Hence the consensus ITT that OP should keep an open mind and give O&G a fair shake before deciding to leave engineering.

dabigchina

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby dabigchina » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:45 am

QContinuum wrote:
dabigchina wrote:100k straight out of undergrad (assuming ok hours) is every practicing lawyer's dream job. Don't squander it by going to law school.

Look into FIRE. Save your money and retire at 40. You'll be happier than any lawyer I know.

To be fair, it isn't all about the money. I'm sure I'd be financially better off if I'd stuck with my original plan and gone "K-MD," but I know now that being a doctor is not for me. Likewise, it's perfectly valid for an engineer to decide that s/he wants to practice law instead of engineering.

The issue here is that OP hasn't yet tried being an engineer, and hasn't expressed any sort of burning desire to practice law. Hence the consensus ITT that OP should keep an open mind and give O&G a fair shake before deciding to leave engineering.

I agree with your sentiment. I also think that this forum can do 0Ls a disservice by telling them to go to law school "if you want to be a lawyer." There's no real way for someone in OP's position to decide whether they would like the practice of law or not. After all, I don't think it would be a great idea for him to get a job as as a paralegal just so he can tell whether he would enjoy being a lawyer. Just because he may somewhat dislike being a O&G engineer does not mean he should go to law school. OP is in a relatively cushy position. I don't think we are doing him a disservice by telling him that.

miskellyjohnson

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby miskellyjohnson » Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:39 pm

L_William_W wrote:Don't do it. Stay in engineering. I entered college as a civil engineering major switched majors since I hated math. To this day, I regret my decision. Engineering is my passion. America is inundated with lawyers, but not that many people are in STEM fields. All lawyers care about is money and all they do is lie and stab each other in the back. You're making good money and helping society. Don't make my mistake.


This is mainly "grass is greener" thinking. Engineering is not a utopia either. Especially in oil and gas, when oil prices drop (and the oil market is cyclical), there will be a glut of engineers on the market with nearly identical qualifications and experience. Plus, the whole issue of outsourcing -- more and more engineering work is being sent to low cost centers like India and China and, guess what, a lot of engineering work can be done anywhere. Even those companies that dont outsource will bring in engineers on immigrant visas that drag down salaries for the industry. One thing about legal work is that it will never* (or at least in the foreseeable future) be sent to India. Plus law jobs are usually in big cities, engineering jobs can often be in the middle of nowhere. There are a lot of advantages to the legal field over engineering.

As far as oil & gas engineers "helping society," I'll just say that is probably open to interpretation.

Nicobella

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby Nicobella » Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:12 pm

Thanks, everyone!

I can say that as of now I definitely don't have a burning desire because I haven't done anything law-related yet. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't really enjoy it. I plan on reaching out to some alumni from my school and asking to do some law office shadowing prior to my start date. I also have a relative I can shadow. I am really intrigued by the job based on people I have talked to in the past, and I've considered law in the back of my mind since I was like 14, so this isn't a new thing! I decided to work first because I put myself through some very difficult courses in engineering so why not experience it. I think there is more than one career I could be happy in to. At the end of the day I want something that both challenges me and allows me to create an impact, and I've found enjoyment in a lot of different things.

Sure, I'm in a cushy position with a cushy job, but at the end of the day I'm not sure that engineering in oil and gas is where I want to be. At my company you're pretty limited on where you can work location wise (I am moving across the country) and it can be pretty hard to find upward mobility. Location is something important to me so that's a big factor. It definitely isn't 100% about the money for me, but if I go to law school I want it to be a safe(ish) investment so I'd probably look at T14 only. I do think I could do more of a service to society though if I were in law.

I guess my main purpose in making this thread was:

1. People's general consensus on law school debt, as that was/is my main concern. I know there are statistics I can view but it's nice to hear personal perspective.
2. If my slightly less than average GPA could be made up for by working at a prominent company. Like I said, I'd love to go to UMich, Northwestern, Duke etc.
3. I didn't realize how risky law school is compared to like med school until pretty recently. As of now I'm just kind of struggling if the rewards outweigh the risks I guess.

To make it clear, I 100% will be working from at least Summer 2019-Summer 2020! If it is advised I may continue that for two years, but I wouldn't want to wait more than 2 years to start law school.

dabigchina

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby dabigchina » Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:53 pm

Op: still trying to understand your thought process here. Why do you want to be a lawyer so badly? It sounds like you don't actually want to be a lawyer but you are hoping to talk yourself into it.

Also, go ahead and disabuse yourself of the notion that firm lawyers create value for society.

Nicobella

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Re: Engineering to Law - should I do it?

Postby Nicobella » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:57 pm

dabigchina wrote:Op: still trying to understand your thought process here. Why do you want to be a lawyer so badly? It sounds like you don't actually want to be a lawyer but you are hoping to talk yourself into it.

Also, go ahead and disabuse yourself of the notion that firm lawyers create value for society.


You think a firm lawyer isn’t creating value for society when they’re helping protect someone’s invention with a patent that goes on to help improve an industry? Or helping write a contract that brings safety to a deal between two companies and helps preserve jobs and the livelihood of many middle class citizens?


I’m a detail person. I spent hours combing through my university’s academic code when I took a health withdrawal trying to find some sort of clause that would allow me to return after just one semester rather than one year. I combed any document I could and fought my way back to the next semester. That felt good. I did a mock court case in high school for a class and I loved the idea of building up a case based on both details and the big picture (although that probably isn’t the best representation of law). I love the idea of being able to work in healthcare and contribute to creating guidelines and either standing up for people who have been wronged or creating documents that uphold criteria people need to abide by. The idea of meeting with an inventor and getting to help them draft a patent for their invention that may be their only hope for success in their business, even if most patents don’t go through, sounds exciting.

I enjoy the problem solving in engineering but I want to apology it less in a mechanical way and more in a cerebral way.

Sorry if that isn’t clear.

I just wanted my questions answered, and I am not so silly as to not exercise my due diligence before applying to law school.

I’ve got time, just wanted insight on the very, very broad basics as I continue meeting with people involved in law.



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