Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

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phoenix91
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Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby phoenix91 » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:56 pm

I am a 2010 college graduate with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. I have one year's experience working for a top defense company in fluids engineering, and am strongly considering choosing patent law as a career path. My question(s) revolve around whether or not more engineering experience and a masters degree in engineering are worthwhile to obtain in order to make myself more marketable. The company I currently work for will pay for my masters, but it will take me 3 years to get it while working. The way I see it, I have 3 options:

1. Continue working as an engineer for the next three years while obtaining my masters degree, and then go to law school. I would end up with four year's experience as an engineer, a masters degree, and a law degree.

2. Go straight to graduate school to get a masters degree in mechanical engineering, and then go to law school. I would end up with only one years experience in engineering, but I would be able to get my masters degree in 1.5-2 years instead of 3.

3. Go straight to law school. This would obviously be the fastest route, but I would only have one year of engineering experience and no masters degree.

My question essentially is whether it will be easy to get a job if I pursue Option 3. I would prefer this option, because it would require less schooling, and also I'm not crazy about my current job. However, being unfamiliar with this field, I am not sure whether a masters degree would open up a lot more doors for me than just a BSME and a law degree.

Will the answer to this question change based upon whether I can get into a tier 1 law school or not?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

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Heartford
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby Heartford » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:09 am

phoenix91 wrote:I am a 2010 college graduate with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. I have one year's experience working for a top defense company in fluids engineering, and am strongly considering choosing patent law as a career path. My question(s) revolve around whether or not more engineering experience and a masters degree in engineering are worthwhile to obtain in order to make myself more marketable. The company I currently work for will pay for my masters, but it will take me 3 years to get it while working. The way I see it, I have 3 options:

1. Continue working as an engineer for the next three years while obtaining my masters degree, and then go to law school. I would end up with four year's experience as an engineer, a masters degree, and a law degree.

2. Go straight to graduate school to get a masters degree in mechanical engineering, and then go to law school. I would end up with only one years experience in engineering, but I would be able to get my masters degree in 1.5-2 years instead of 3.

3. Go straight to law school. This would obviously be the fastest route, but I would only have one year of engineering experience and no masters degree.

My question essentially is whether it will be easy to get a job if I pursue Option 3. I would prefer this option, because it would require less schooling, and also I'm not crazy about my current job. However, being unfamiliar with this field, I am not sure whether a masters degree would open up a lot more doors for me than just a BSME and a law degree.

Will the answer to this question change based upon whether I can get into a tier 1 law school or not?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!


While option 1 would give you the strongest resume, work experience in engineering is probably more important to employers than a masters degree. Most IP firms only specify that they are looking for candidates with undergrad and work exp. in appropriate fields, but I'm sure a masters wouldn't hurt.

LogosEther
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby LogosEther » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:30 am

I have a B.S. and no work experience (in engineering). I haven't heard a single negative comment about it and I've done well with getting interviews and jobs, etc.

- The work experience would be great, but I'm not sure if, in the recruiters minds, 3 years is going to add much compared to 1. Plus, your one year is already in a well-regarded position.

- The M.S. adds some prestige points, but again, some recruiters may not even care about it.

- When they do require an advanced degree for their patent lawyers, recruiters SEEM to usually only require it for life science majors. This is just my personal observation.

In the end, lots of people do just fine with only the B.S., so the question is whether adding the other stuff is worth the time that it will take (1.5-3 years). I'd go straight to law school, but that's just me.

Anonymous User
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:03 am

You do not need a masters with a MechE degree. It won't really help that much, either. Your law school and your 1L grades will be much more important in landing a job.

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dood
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby dood » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:You do not need a masters with a MechE degree. It won't really help that much, either. Your law school and your 1L grades will be much more important in landing a job.


100% true. masters would be huge waste of time.

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SpAcEmAn SpLiFF
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby SpAcEmAn SpLiFF » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You do not need a masters with a MechE degree. It won't really help that much, either. Your law school and your 1L grades will be much more important in landing a job.

this. 1L grades > work experience > masters degree

vb007
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby vb007 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:00 pm

i am 95% sure i would not have my summer position if i did not have my MS in biomedical engineering. maybe it is less important for mechanical engineers though.

lawgod
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby lawgod » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:02 pm

Stay as engineer?

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englawyer
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby englawyer » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:14 pm

apply this cycle. that will be two years of experience before you matriculate, which is plenty. don't get the MS.

Anonymous User
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:39 pm

SpAcEmAn SpLiFF wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You do not need a masters with a MechE degree. It won't really help that much, either. Your law school and your 1L grades will be much more important in landing a job.

this. 1L grades > work experience > masters degree

Do you think having a master's degree from a very well-regarded school in a liberal arts / social science field might benefit an applicant, especially with employers looking for evidence of writing ability?

I can't see it as a detriment for me, and the grades are there for me (top 10%). I'm thinking it just might be something in slightly in my favor. Certainly not as valuable as substantive WE.

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stratocophic
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby stratocophic » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
SpAcEmAn SpLiFF wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You do not need a masters with a MechE degree. It won't really help that much, either. Your law school and your 1L grades will be much more important in landing a job.

this. 1L grades > work experience > masters degree

Do you think having a master's degree from a very well-regarded school in a liberal arts / social science field might benefit an applicant, especially with employers looking for evidence of writing ability?

I can't see it as a detriment for me, and the grades are there for me (top 10%). I'm thinking it just might be something in slightly in my favor. Certainly not as valuable as substantive WE.
Wut. Masters in engineering can be relevant to the job, plus patent firms can tout it on their sites - masters in libarts is not relevant ~99% of the time, and it'll probably be nothing more than a line on your firm bio.

a) you're comparing apples and oranges and
b) you're top 10%. Not much more you can do than that, and certainly nothing more at this point anyway.

Anonymous User
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:23 am

stratocophic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
SpAcEmAn SpLiFF wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You do not need a masters with a MechE degree. It won't really help that much, either. Your law school and your 1L grades will be much more important in landing a job.

this. 1L grades > work experience > masters degree

Do you think having a master's degree from a very well-regarded school in a liberal arts / social science field might benefit an applicant, especially with employers looking for evidence of writing ability?

I can't see it as a detriment for me, and the grades are there for me (top 10%). I'm thinking it just might be something in slightly in my favor. Certainly not as valuable as substantive WE.
Wut. Masters in engineering can be relevant to the job, plus patent firms can tout it on their sites - masters in libarts is not relevant ~99% of the time, and it'll probably be nothing more than a line on your firm bio.

a) you're comparing apples and oranges and
b) you're top 10%. Not much more you can do than that, and certainly nothing more at this point anyway.

I wasn't trying trying to equate a Master's degree in engineering with one in a non-science/engineering field.

At the very least, it should be an interesting interview topic - no doubt they'll want to know why I didn't go on to earn the PhD.

vb007
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby vb007 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:31 am

the point is a graduate degree in liberal arts/social sciences gives you no training that is directly applicable in the legal field. you may be able to argue that your writing has improved as a result of the rigors of the graduate program, but this is hardly persuasive to an employer. i would argue that a graduate student in the sciences could say the exact same thing regarding improving his writing skills through writing a thesis and other presentations.

this is in contrast to the science student who has training in directly relevant subject matter. if you're doing a pharmaceutical patent, it is mandatory to have training in chemistry. often, graduate level training is required.

that being said, i don't think a MA in liberal arts/social sciences is a detriment. however, it has almost no positive impact. in my summer program, my masters level education in engineering is almost always brought up when i'm being introduced to a group of attorneys. however, another summer who has a masters in a social science has never had his degree brought up in an introduction.

phoenix91
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby phoenix91 » Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:45 pm

Thanks everyone for your responses. It seems that a master’s degree is not necessary, and maybe not even helpful (at least in mechanical engineering).

Over the past few days I’ve done some more research into the field of patent law, and also the field of law in general. Since you have been so helpful, I’d like to give some more details on my situation and throw a few more questions out there, shotgun style.

Details:

I earned a 3.82 undergrad gpa. I took a practice LSAT online yesterday and got a 170. I believe, with studying, I should be able to get it up to the low-mid 170’s. I would like to work in the Midwest, and specifically in either Chicago or Indianapolis (preferably Indianapolis).
I’ve come to the conclusion that it will be next to impossible to make the $$ work out in my favor (due to tuition and loss of salary while at school), and I’m completely ok with this, as my main motivation for the job switch would be to get into a field I believe I will enjoy more than engineering. That being said, it wouldn’t make much sense to invest such a considerable amount of time and money, without being pretty certain that I will be able to land a job that I do enjoy.

Questions:

1. From what I’ve read, patent prosecution requires a ton of technical writing, which is what makes me assume I would enjoy it. My reading comprehension and writing skills are strong, but I would consider my oral communication skills to be weak – probably average for an engineer, but definitely below par for a lawyer. I'm definitely more introverted than extroverted. Will that be a problem if I want to get into patent prosecution? To a certain extent, I’m sure oral communication skills can be learned, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be one of those people with natural charisma. My assumption is that, while both prosecution and litigation require a certain level of general social skills, litigation requires much more charisma than prosecution. Is this true?

2. Will a 3.82 gpa and a 170-175 LSAT, get me into a T14 law school?

3. If I am targeting Indianapolis and I do well enough on the LSAT to get into a T14 school paying full tuition or University of Indiana – Bloomington (a T25 school) with a scholarship, is it reasonable to assume that UI-B is both well known regionally and a good enough school to land me a job in Indianapolis? Or would my best bet be to just go with the T14 school.

4. I’ve read that the law job market is weak right now. Assuming I graduated from a T14 school, University of Chicago for example, in the top half of my class, is it reasonable to assume that I would be able to get a job in patent prosecution in the Midwest coming out of school? Or is the job market such that I would have to settle for a job anywhere I could find one? What if I graduate in the top 20%?

I guess what I’m really looking for is a “magic” combination of credentials (master’s degree or not, school, class rank, etc) that will virtually insure that I get a decent job in patent prosecution in the Midwest. Maybe I should be going to a fortune teller instead of posting on here… but hey, put yourselves in the shoes of a fortune teller, and tell me what you see:) Thanks!

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Heartford
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby Heartford » Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:54 pm

phoenix91 wrote:
I guess what I’m really looking for is a “magic” combination of credentials (master’s degree or not, school, class rank, etc) that will virtually insure that I get a decent job in patent prosecution in the Midwest.


Not to be a dick, but there is no such combination of credentials. You can't know how well you'll perform in law school. You can't know whether the economy will tank again in the next couple of years. These two factors alone make it impossible to "virtually insure [sic]" anything.


That said, start by looking for employers in IN for whom you'd like to work, and see which schools they went to/what their qualifications are. You could even make an excel spreadsheet if you really wanted to nerd it up!

Anonymous User
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:31 pm

phoenix91 wrote:2. Will a 3.82 gpa and a 170-175 LSAT, get me into a T14 law school?


(I hope this is an appropriate use of anonymous post)

Just to give you a little perspective:
I graduated from a T25 ugrad with a 3.42 gpa in Chem E
172 LSAT, a little under 3 years WE as an engineering consultant
I was waitlisted at Columbia, NYU, UPenn, Duke, Michigan, and NW and didn't get dinged until late-July or when classes started.

You might have a tad less work experience, but your gpa is much higher than mine. Of course, there's no way to know whether any particular combination of gpa/lsat will get you into a T14, but on the whole, I think your numbers and WE will make you a very strong candidate for most T14 schools.

ibizre
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby ibizre » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:32 pm

If you work an extra year you can save up some money and have a better shot at Northwestern. If you do as well on the LSAT as on your practice, you'll have a pretty decent shot at T-14.

Also, WE always helps when you are interviewing. Of course grades are most important, but firms definitely look at relevant WE too.

Anonymous User
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Re: Engineering experience/Masters degree necessary?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:
phoenix91 wrote:2. Will a 3.82 gpa and a 170-175 LSAT, get me into a T14 law school?


(I hope this is an appropriate use of anonymous post)

Just to give you a little perspective:
I graduated from a T25 ugrad with a 3.42 gpa in Chem E
172 LSAT, a little under 3 years WE as an engineering consultant
I was waitlisted at Columbia, NYU, UPenn, Duke, Michigan, and NW and didn't get dinged until late-July or when classes started.

You might have a tad less work experience, but your gpa is much higher than mine. Of course, there's no way to know whether any particular combination of gpa/lsat will get you into a T14, but on the whole, I think your numbers and WE will make you a very strong candidate for most T14 schools.

I had a 3.82 and 172 as an engineer straight from undergrad, and was admitted to a number of T14s. I agree with the anon poster, and imagine you will do quite well.




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