Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

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crEEp
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Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:49 am

Thoughts? I'm not going to drop out, but I'd rather pursue some entrepreneurial endeavors after graduating. I'd like to remain active with writing and hopefully publishing work focused on the intersection of law and technological start-ups, but I can't see myself actually representing clients in court or on paper. My justification for continuing is that I'm learning a ton of material, gaining experience that I would not otherwise gain, and benefiting from unrestricted access to massive academic databases. Let the flame-war begin.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby Cavalier » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:52 am

crEEp wrote:Thoughts? I'm not going to drop out, but I'd rather pursue some entrepreneurial endeavors after graduating. I'd like to remain active with writing and hopefully publishing work focused on the intersection of law and technological start-ups, but I can't see myself actually representing clients in court or on paper. My justification for continuing is that I'm learning a ton of material, gaining experience that I would not otherwise gain, and benefiting from unrestricted access to massive academic databases. Let the flame-war begin.

Here's what you should do:

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reasonable_man
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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:53 am

No flame here. But frankly, a JD has zero utility for a practicing lawyer (beyond allowing you to take the bar exam), let alone a non-practicing lawyer. If you're enjoying yourself and "learning tons of new material" and that makes you happy, then awesome... Enjoy! But as far as the law degree having any value at all (beyond a really cool document to frame and hang on your wall), I'm sorry to say that I just don't really see it.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:07 am

reasonable_man wrote:No flame here. But frankly, a JD has zero utility for a practicing lawyer (beyond allowing you to take the bar exam), let alone a non-practicing lawyer. If you're enjoying yourself and "learning tons of new material" and that makes you happy, then awesome... Enjoy! But as far as the law degree having any value at all (beyond a really cool document to frame and hang on your wall), I'm sorry to say that I just don't really see it.


By that same logic, no degree has any utility beyond it being a really cool document with the medieval-style font hanging on your wall. What law degrees do, more than any other degree that I know of, is give your words some credibility when you're talking about something tangentially related to "law" (hint: everything). Even if you're not offering legal advice, it puts you into a unique position if you have other marketable skills (I'm an electrical engineer aspiring to get a phd after this).

With legal knowledge, which by necessity requires keeping up to date with case law and current research in specialty, I think I would be in an excellent position to work with start-ups to get off the ground, while avoiding many of the legal problems that may otherwise face. I'd just like to think that all of this isn't a massive waste of time.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:11 am

crEEp wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:No flame here. But frankly, a JD has zero utility for a practicing lawyer (beyond allowing you to take the bar exam), let alone a non-practicing lawyer. If you're enjoying yourself and "learning tons of new material" and that makes you happy, then awesome... Enjoy! But as far as the law degree having any value at all (beyond a really cool document to frame and hang on your wall), I'm sorry to say that I just don't really see it.


By that same logic, no degree has any utility beyond it being a really cool document with the medieval-style font hanging on your wall. What law degrees do, more than any other degree that I know of, is give your words some credibility when you're talking about something tangentially related to "law" (hint: everything). Even if you're not offering legal advice, it puts you into a unique position if you have other marketable skills (I'm an electrical engineer aspiring to get a phd after this).

With legal knowledge, which by necessity requires keeping up to date with case law and current research in specialty, I think I would be in an excellent position to work with start-ups to get off the ground, while avoiding many of the legal problems that may otherwise face. I'd just like to think that all of this isn't a massive waste of time.



Sorry to say, but it probably is a huge waste of time and money. And if you're going to be counseling startups (most of which need legal advice), and you do not intend to be licensed or serving in the capacity as an attorney, I'd advise you to be really careful of not wandering into the world of attorney client relationship and I'd make sure they have another attorney retained as well.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby Renzo » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:12 am

crEEp wrote:With legal knowledge, which by necessity requires keeping up to date with case law and current research in specialty, I think I would be in an excellent position to work with start-ups to get off the ground, while avoiding many of the legal problems that may otherwise face.

This sounds suspiciously like "practicing law"

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:14 am

reasonable_man wrote:
crEEp wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:No flame here. But frankly, a JD has zero utility for a practicing lawyer (beyond allowing you to take the bar exam), let alone a non-practicing lawyer. If you're enjoying yourself and "learning tons of new material" and that makes you happy, then awesome... Enjoy! But as far as the law degree having any value at all (beyond a really cool document to frame and hang on your wall), I'm sorry to say that I just don't really see it.


By that same logic, no degree has any utility beyond it being a really cool document with the medieval-style font hanging on your wall. What law degrees do, more than any other degree that I know of, is give your words some credibility when you're talking about something tangentially related to "law" (hint: everything). Even if you're not offering legal advice, it puts you into a unique position if you have other marketable skills (I'm an electrical engineer aspiring to get a phd after this).

With legal knowledge, which by necessity requires keeping up to date with case law and current research in specialty, I think I would be in an excellent position to work with start-ups to get off the ground, while avoiding many of the legal problems that may otherwise face. I'd just like to think that all of this isn't a massive waste of time.



Sorry to say, but it probably is a huge waste of time and money. And if you're going to be counseling startups (most of which need legal advice), and you do not intend to be licensed or serving in the capacity as an attorney, I'd advise you to be really careful of not wandering into the world of attorney client relationship and I'd make sure they have another attorney retained as well.


Well of course I'd remain licensed... it's more of saying something like "why don't you do A, B, and C to decrease the likelihood of occurrence of outcomes X, Y, and Z?" instead of saying "if you do A, B, and C, then X, Y, or Z won't happen." In other words, acting as a consultant.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:16 am

So you're going to be a lawyer but call yourself a consultant?

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crEEp
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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:18 am

Renzo wrote:
crEEp wrote:With legal knowledge, which by necessity requires keeping up to date with case law and current research in specialty, I think I would be in an excellent position to work with start-ups to get off the ground, while avoiding many of the legal problems that may otherwise face.

This sounds suspiciously like "practicing law"


"Consulting" is not the same as "practicing law." It's true that there are many overlapping areas, but it's certainly possible to act as a consultant without acting as an attorney. The key is knowing the limits, which I'm pretty sure all legal ethics/professional responsibility courses cover.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:20 am

crEEp wrote:
Renzo wrote:
crEEp wrote:With legal knowledge, which by necessity requires keeping up to date with case law and current research in specialty, I think I would be in an excellent position to work with start-ups to get off the ground, while avoiding many of the legal problems that may otherwise face.

This sounds suspiciously like "practicing law"


"Consulting" is not the same as "practicing law." It's true that there are many overlapping areas, but it's certainly possible to act as a consultant without acting as an attorney. The key is knowing the limits, which I'm pretty sure all legal ethics/professional responsibility courses cover.



I think you have an overestimated value of what you're learning. No law course teach any practical information. Especially "legal ethics" classes (which are generally the biggest joke in any LS course offering). You want value, get that PhD in engineering. But the Law degree.. Not so much.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:31 am

reasonable_man wrote:I think you have an overestimated value of what you're learning. No law course teach any practical information. Especially "legal ethics" classes (which are generally the biggest joke in any LS course offering). You want value, get that PhD in engineering. But the Law degree.. Not so much.


Oh okay, let's stop for a moment -- I guess I didn't make that point clear. I don't get good grades in law school because I don't study. I don't study because most of what we're learning is useless. Instead, I go to office hours of professors I don't have to talk about their research. Additionally, I'm at a fairly large university and therefore have access to a ton of online resources -- I probably use lexisnexis/westlaw more than most, and I'm constantly downloading articles indexed by google scholar. What it costs me to attend this school is negligible compared to the value I get from these databases...they'd probably cost thousands a month.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby Renzo » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:34 am

crEEp wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:I think you have an overestimated value of what you're learning. No law course teach any practical information. Especially "legal ethics" classes (which are generally the biggest joke in any LS course offering). You want value, get that PhD in engineering. But the Law degree.. Not so much.


Oh okay, let's stop for a moment -- I guess I didn't make that point clear. I don't get good grades in law school because I don't study. I don't study because most of what we're learning is useless. Instead, I go to office hours of professors I don't have to talk about their research. Additionally, I'm at a fairly large university and therefore have access to a ton of online resources -- I probably use lexisnexis/westlaw more than most, and I'm constantly downloading articles indexed by google scholar. What it costs me to attend this school is negligible compared to the value I get from these databases...they'd probably cost thousands a month.

Yeah.....


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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:36 am

crEEp wrote:Thoughts? I'm not going to drop out, but I'd rather pursue some entrepreneurial endeavors after graduating. I'd like to remain active with writing and hopefully publishing work focused on the intersection of law and technological start-ups, but I can't see myself actually representing clients in court or on paper. My justification for continuing is that I'm learning a ton of material, gaining experience that I would not otherwise gain, and benefiting from unrestricted access to massive academic databases. Let the flame-war begin.


If you are interested in starting your own business, what you learn in law school is extremely valuable (assuming you take relevant courses)

For example, see the following courses:
Contracts I
Contracts II (UCC Art. 2)
Secured Transactions (UCC Art. 9)
Business Enterprises (I and II)
Torts (for mostly negligence/vicarious liability)
Corporate Finance
M&A
Bankruptcy (hey...it happens)
IPO's
Venture Capital
Intellectual Property
Copyright
Patent (if you have the background)
Income Tax
Corporate Tax
Partnership Tax
Research in Tax
Tax practice and Procedure
International tax (taxation for income earned outside the US)
Any advanced contract courses

All these courses are related to topics that are important to new companies and generally do not require you to be in a "lawyer" to make use of what you learned in the course. You could possibly be a consultant or something of that nature.

True, law school doesn't teach us practical aspects of many topics. However, it does show us what we need to be aware of (and generally where to find it).

Also, while the OP appears to be a flame, I would respect the argument that your grades don't matter as much if you are not trying to be employed by highly competitive employers.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:45 am

crEEp wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:I think you have an overestimated value of what you're learning. No law course teach any practical information. Especially "legal ethics" classes (which are generally the biggest joke in any LS course offering). You want value, get that PhD in engineering. But the Law degree.. Not so much.


Oh okay, let's stop for a moment -- I guess I didn't make that point clear. I don't get good grades in law school because I don't study. I don't study because most of what we're learning is useless. Instead, I go to office hours of professors I don't have to talk about their research. Additionally, I'm at a fairly large university and therefore have access to a ton of online resources -- I probably use lexisnexis/westlaw more than most, and I'm constantly downloading articles indexed by google scholar. What it costs me to attend this school is negligible compared to the value I get from these databases...they'd probably cost thousands a month.


I dine in the finest establishments, utilizing all eating instruments in the correct order. I smoke only the finest tobaco from the very finest hand-made pipe available to only the most elite members of the most elite county club. I do not engage in the rifrafery of directed legal education but am, instead, a schollar of the law, learning and growing as the great Olive Wendel Homes once did. I do not eat at the school eatery, instead, choosing to take my lunch at the nearby Harvard Club (Eliot Spitzer - Denied, myself, accepted).

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby Renzo » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:03 am

reasonable_man wrote:
crEEp wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:I think you have an overestimated value of what you're learning. No law course teach any practical information. Especially "legal ethics" classes (which are generally the biggest joke in any LS course offering). You want value, get that PhD in engineering. But the Law degree.. Not so much.


Oh okay, let's stop for a moment -- I guess I didn't make that point clear. I don't get good grades in law school because I don't study. I don't study because most of what we're learning is useless. Instead, I go to office hours of professors I don't have to talk about their research. Additionally, I'm at a fairly large university and therefore have access to a ton of online resources -- I probably use lexisnexis/westlaw more than most, and I'm constantly downloading articles indexed by google scholar. What it costs me to attend this school is negligible compared to the value I get from these databases...they'd probably cost thousands a month.


I dine in the finest establishments, utilizing all eating instruments in the correct order. I smoke only the finest tobaco from the very finest hand-made pipe available to only the most elite members of the most elite county club. I do not engage in the rifrafery of directed legal education but am, instead, a schollar of the law, learning and growing as the great Olive Wendel Homes once did. I do not eat at the school eatery, instead, choosing to take my lunch at the nearby Harvard Club (Eliot Spitzer - Denied, myself, accepted).

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby random5483 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:09 am

crEEp wrote:Thoughts? I'm not going to drop out, but I'd rather pursue some entrepreneurial endeavors after graduating. I'd like to remain active with writing and hopefully publishing work focused on the intersection of law and technological start-ups, but I can't see myself actually representing clients in court or on paper. My justification for continuing is that I'm learning a ton of material, gaining experience that I would not otherwise gain, and benefiting from unrestricted access to massive academic databases. Let the flame-war begin.



Law degrees have some utility, but taking on tons of debt and giving up three years of income for "some" utility is very dangerous. An MBA is easier to get, less expensive and gives you a lot more utility.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby SeymourShowz » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:27 am

I'm looking at going to work for an accounting firm after law school. The degree definitely has utility in the tax department. A strong argument could be made that it really isn't necessary, and a masters of accountancy is just as good, but clients view the JD as adding significant value. I never met a client at our accounting firm that gave a shit if someone had a Macc or MBA, but when we sent they to one of the partners or managers with a JD, they were impressed.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:40 am

SeymourShowz wrote:I'm looking at going to work for an accounting firm after law school. The degree definitely has utility in the tax department. A strong argument could be made that it really isn't necessary, and a masters of accountancy is just as good, but clients view the JD as adding significant value. I never met a client at our accounting firm that gave a shit if someone had a Macc or MBA, but when we sent they to one of the partners or managers with a JD, they were impressed.


Precisely, a JD is viewed differently from more traditional degrees. I think start-ups would think that they could get more value out of someone with a JD than someone with an MBA; in reality, what my friends in MBA school learn hasn't differed too tremendously from what I'm learning. However, what I'm learning is the "worst-case scenario," while what they learn is the "everyday scenario." Knowing how to handle the worst-case and using that knowledge to manage the mundane, daily issues seems valuable on its face.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:50 am

reasonable_man wrote:I dine in the finest establishments, utilizing all eating instruments in the correct order. I smoke only the finest tobaco from the very finest hand-made pipe available to only the most elite members of the most elite county club. I do not engage in the rifrafery of directed legal education but am, instead, a schollar of the law, learning and growing as the great Olive Wendel Homes once did. I do not eat at the school eatery, instead, choosing to take my lunch at the nearby Harvard Club (Eliot Spitzer - Denied, myself, accepted).


That raises a couple interesting points about what I think is contributing to the decline of America's education system. As a culture, we've become enamored by name and prestige, and I realize I'm only saying this because I'm not at a T10 school. However, it warrants some consideration: is a lawyer's success or failure solely a function of grades and their school's level of prestige? Mostly, yeah. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and attending HYS is +++++EV. That's a given.

However, it seems likely that the top schools are really just a self-maintaining club of the elite that does not accurately reflect its members' aptitude or intellectual superiority. Unless, of course, you consider the LSAT + professors grading a single exam an accurate representation of aptitude or intellectual superiority.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby Nicholas Nickleby » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:38 pm

Many businessmen, entrepreneurs, I-bankers, agents, etc. have law degrees. Whether they would have ended up where they are without a law degree is up for debate.

I guess a JD could probably save you some legal fees on transactions you could do for yourself. Of course, you'd still be spending your time on them, and investing 3 years opportunity cost and tuition $ on the JD.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:01 pm

Nicholas Nickleby wrote:Many businessmen, entrepreneurs, I-bankers, agents, etc. have law degrees. Whether they would have ended up where they are without a law degree is up for debate.

I guess a JD could probably save you some legal fees on transactions you could do for yourself. Of course, you'd still be spending your time on them, and investing 3 years opportunity cost and tuition $ on the JD.



A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby crEEp » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:22 pm

reasonable_man wrote:A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.


You mean to tell me you'd pay a lawyer over a grand to file a trademark when you could do the application yourself for just under $400? How about forming a corporation/LLC? In most states, it costs under $100 to form one, but attorney would probably charge 5x that price...

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby Nicholas Nickleby » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:01 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
Nicholas Nickleby wrote:Many businessmen, entrepreneurs, I-bankers, agents, etc. have law degrees. Whether they would have ended up where they are without a law degree is up for debate.

I guess a JD could probably save you some legal fees on transactions you could do for yourself. Of course, you'd still be spending your time on them, and investing 3 years opportunity cost and tuition $ on the JD.



A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.


Which is why i specifically said you could save yourself some money on transactional work--not representing one's self at trial.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby SeymourShowz » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:12 pm

Nicholas Nickleby wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
Nicholas Nickleby wrote:Many businessmen, entrepreneurs, I-bankers, agents, etc. have law degrees. Whether they would have ended up where they are without a law degree is up for debate.

I guess a JD could probably save you some legal fees on transactions you could do for yourself. Of course, you'd still be spending your time on them, and investing 3 years opportunity cost and tuition $ on the JD.



A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.


Which is why i specifically said you could save yourself some money on transactional work--not representing one's self at trial.


I still don't think it's a very good idea. I mean, I'm having trouble remembering civil procedure that I studied last semester. Imagine how difficult it would be to remember the in and outs of something years after law school. And even if you had a perfect memory, law school just teaches you the basics. The only way to really learn anything with proficiency is to get out and do it, i.e., practice law. If you go straight from law school to the business world, representing yourself on anything other than a minor traffic ticket would be very risky business.

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Re: Law degree utility for non-practicing attorneys

Postby johnnyutah » Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:19 pm

crEEp wrote:What law degrees do, more than any other degree that I know of, is give your words some credibility when you're talking about something tangentially related to "law" (hint: everything).

Don't kid yourself. Most JDs aren't credible even when they're talking about the law itself.




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