Grad student thinking about dramatic change

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Grad student thinking about dramatic change

Postby biostrings » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:29 am


I'm starting my third year in a PhD program in pharmacology/physiology and I've been struggling with deciding what I want to do with my life. I thought I wanted to do research, but after time in the program and realizing what type of life researchers must lead, I've realized that this isn't what I wish to devote my life to. I have been thinking about doing IP law, since my background would help significantly and I'm interested in integrating my knowledge of science with the law and helping researchers develop new ideas through patents, but I'm not completely passionate about this either. I've been thinking a lot about international human rights law and although it is a dramatic departure from my current path, I really feel like I could make a difference. My ultimate goal is to get in at one of the T14 law schools and study international law and gain experience through the different clinics and study abroad programs so that I could eventually work somewhere like the UN or HRW.

So, my general question is what to do now. I can continue in my PhD program and graduate within two years. On the side, I would start to learn French (since I need to learn some foreign languages) and volunteer at local organizations. Alternatively, I have thought about stopping my PhD program, which at this point would still give me a masters degree. I could then get some experience by teaching english abroad or work with an international organization. The problem is, once I drop the program my loans are no longer deferred, so I'll have to start repaying a lot of undergrad debt for the next two years until I enter law school. It will also be more difficult to study for the LSAT abroad rather than while I'm in graduate school. My undergrad GPA is 3.7 and let's assume I can get a 170-175 on the LSAT. It would be easier to stick with the PhD program, but the other option may get me into better schools, although it seems pretty risky. I'm just looking for some advice. Am I crazy for considering doing this? I just don't feel very motivated in my current position, but the idea of giving up all this security to go work abroad is pretty scary.

Oh, and if I posted this under the wrong topic thread, feel free to move it. It just didn't seem to fit anywhere else.

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Re: Grad student thinking about dramatic change

Postby tourdeforcex » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:09 am

i think the title is accurate.

1. you say you might not be passionate about research
2. you say you might not be passionate about IP
3. you never said that you are passionate about international human rights law (i think you can research this more before you do anything big)

4. you clearly see a cost of stopping the PhD program
5. why are we assuming a 170-175?

6. you're not crazy for considering this but you need to be more sure of what you want and what you are going to do.

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Wade LeBosh
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Re: Grad student thinking about dramatic change

Postby Wade LeBosh » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:12 pm

From what I understand, lawyers with legit science backgrounds are in HIGH demand because a hard science degree is a way to sit for the patent bar. That PhD combined with a JD would make you an ideal pharmaceutical lawyer. The PhD would work in your advantage. However, you may qualify to sit for the patent bar with only your Masters. I would suggest researching the requirements to sit for the patent bar, you would probaly meet them with just your Masters.

You would be an ideal candidate for that lucrative career.


I understand you're interested in HR law, but patent law would make a lot more sense with your expertise.

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Re: Grad student thinking about dramatic change

Postby gens1tb » Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:35 pm

What aspect of the "life researchers must lead" do you dislike?

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