Law School Discussion

Engineers who went to law school...

Engineers who went to law school...
« on: June 22, 2006, 07:28:43 AM »
Are you glad you did it (or are doing it)? Do you have any regrets? What made you jump ship from your EE/ChemE/ME degree - IP law? Did you go into law school wanting to do IP law but ended up doing something else?

I'm a recent EE graduate and got into a top program, but am having serious second thoughts about becoming a lawyer. Lawyers seem so dismal about their careers and choice to go to law school and I am worried if I am making a big mistake. I got interested in it because I was told of the wonderful job prospects for EEs in patent law and because the law school I got into looked like such a fun place to be and study. But I have a good life and promising career as an engineer - make 60k/year now with no debt load and have the grades to go into any sort of graduate program I want. I would be giving up a lot, and I want to make sure that I will be happy. A lot of people on this board and lawyers that I've talked to seem far unhappier than even the most unhappy engineers I know.

Basically, I know I would like to study law because it would make me more intelligent and well-rounded academically, but I really don't know if I want to be a lawyer forever (plus I really don't want to work in a big city, which is where all the IP jobs seem to be that pay enough to cover loans). Maybe I should defer for a year and think about it or reapply. Or, if you engineers are really loving what you're doing now - I'd love to hear about it.


  • ****
  • 106
    • View Profile
Re: Engineers who went to law school...
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2006, 11:51:17 AM »
I've been working as a research specialist for the last couple of years and am a year out from my masters and I have a similar problem. I was excepted to a law school I really like too. However, I really like what am doing and am nervous about making that jump into the "unknown" because I hear it is hard out there with out a PhD and that so many lawyers are not happy. If there are any Bio people in law please respond here too!

Re: Engineers who went to law school...
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2006, 12:01:12 PM »
Nobody says you'd have to be lawyer for ever, or a lawyer at all for that matter. In my experience, science-minded people have an easier time adjusting to law school, and especially legal analysis. Law is much more mechanical that most people presume. Many people have trouble seeing the underling structure of legal writing, wheras those with a science background might have the opposite problem - fleshing out the details.

I would get the JD if I were you. You have a background that supplies job security. That means you can be less nervous and more confident in your legal endeavors. Plus, law is fun.  :)

Re: Engineers who went to law school...
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2006, 12:05:54 PM »
I'm finding law school easier than engineering (I was a ChemE).  I was bored with the work I was doing, and felt like my potential was being limited in the work I was doing, somehow I got into the environmental field.  Just finished my first year of law school and this summer I am studing for the patent bar.

Re: Engineers who went to law school...
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2006, 07:12:57 PM »
i found law school to be just as difficult as engineering, but in a totally different way. it was a lot more work, for one thing.

so far, i have no regrets.  studying for the bar exam sucks, but it's not unbearable.  i didn't like my engineering job (which really ended up being a lot more project management than actual engineering); i suppose if i had been in a more technically rigorous position i might have found it more rewarding.  but from my (so far) limited IP law experience, it's looking to be a pretty challenging endeavor.

i will say that if you think you might want to go to grad school, it will only help your legal prospects later.  you could also always take the patent bar and find work as a patent agent; that way you could get a little insight into the IP life without the all-in plunge of law school.  with an advanced EE degree and a PTO registration #, you could find work as a patent agent pretty easily, i'd think.

as far as lawyers being miserable, i think it's partially a function of the lawyer personality, and partially a function of people being stuck (or so they think) in firms that arne't good fits for them.  i know plenty of lawyers who like their jobs...IP attorneys in particular. any legal job is a lot of work, but then again, 40 hours at a crappy job can kill you a lot faster than 55 at an interesting, challenging one.

Re: Engineers who went to law school...
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2006, 06:33:39 PM »
I am a Bio person and just finished my first year of law school. I have a master's in Biomedical Engineering as well. i found the first year to be challenging, but in a different way than science/engineering.  The work load was more bearable, but the curve makes it harder. However, I definitly found that I was more prepared to work than most students coming from a different major. I have no regrets so far and find it more rewarding than working in a lab and constantly have to pray experiemnts work.


  • ****
  • 165
  • Hrm, I look pasty...must be engineering.
    • ICQ Messenger - 272630
    • AOL Instant Messenger - DeltaTauKyle
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Engineers who went to law school...
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2006, 01:03:53 PM »
I was Comptuer Engineering and Math in undergrad, and law school is easier, I'd say.  Definately different work.  I only went out Fri / Sat in undergrad, I go out and drink about 3 nights / week, but I generally go out and do something EVERYnight.  I'm not a genious, I go to a Top 25 school, and I finished in the top 1/3, so take it for what you will.

I will say I like the legal work I do right now (I'm a summer IP associate) far more than maintaining legacy code that some jackass wrote in 1985.  I was a great programmer, probably better than I will be equivalently as a lawyer, but the work just isn't as monotonous in law.

Plus, I firmly plan to do BigLaw for 3-5 years and either become a sports agent or realtor ;)