Law School Discussion

MD --> JD

MD --> JD
« on: August 17, 2006, 07:14:23 PM »
I am currently a medical student (MSII) and am tempted to withdraw and go to law school.  The material is not that difficult to learn; it is just it is not a very flexible job once you choose a specialty.  I miss the intellectual diversity of my undergraduate experience, where the scientists were well-versed in politics and the history majors were interested in learning about Galois theory (though they rarely understood it).  In med school, it is just medicine, medicine, medicine...Or, runny nose, runny nose, runny nose.  I think a career in IP law may be fun given the growth of the biotech industry and the different cases that I will have to deal with.  Has anybody here made a similar switch?  And how do you feel about your decision?  Thanks!

P.S. I have just started looking into law as a career.  Anyone know about how many hours a midlevel IP lawyer works and what the salary is like?

Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2006, 07:30:50 PM »
If you are looking for hours worked compared with compensation, stay in Med school.  My brother is a 4th year and is likely going to do a medicine residency after.  His friend, a medicine resident has offers for 2 weeks on 2 weeks off with pay around $200k.  Starting off at $200k in a firm(which may happen to only the top students at the top schools) almost guaruntees at least a 90 hour work week. 
If you hate the constant medicine, medicine, medicine, make sure you will not hate the guarunteed law, law, law.  Is law something that interests you ALOT more than medicine?  I would be willing to bet that job satisfaction is significantly higher will Dr.s as well.  Just my 2 cents.

Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2006, 11:06:58 PM »
Perhaps continue your medical education, train for the ER or another specialty with a short residency (<5 years), THEN go to law school. You'll have the medical degree behind you which might make you an attractive applicant for law school and for jobs once you graduate.



  • ****
  • 144
  • Legal humor for all legal professionals!!!
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2006, 04:48:48 AM »
If I were you, I'd go with law, simply because, from the sounds of it, you won't be happy working in "medicine, medicine, medicine."  A person deserves to enjoy their chosen profession.

Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2006, 01:41:59 PM »
If you don't love medicine, please do your future patients a favor and find another career path. The last thing I'd want is a doctor treating me who doesn't love what he or she does.

Before making any jump, go and spend a few days shadowing a friend who is an attorney to see if you can live with the mundane tasks of being a lawyer. You may decide that medicine, medicine, medicine is a hell of lot more exciting than law.


  • ****
  • 515
    • View Profile
Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2006, 03:35:57 PM »
There was/is a poster on here with the name "Highway" or something like that. I believe he/she went to med school, then ultimately, law school. You should ask him/her.

Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2006, 11:59:27 AM »
Did somebody mention my name?

A "he" will do, thanks. My wife would be fairly upset if I were a female.

I did go to med school and, the OP is right, it is all medicine, medicine, medicine. And it never stops being that. Still, you want your physician to go through that, I assume. You'd rather they not be thinking of other things while learning to operate on you, or something.

At any rate, I tired of medicine, too. I got out (after graduation and a primary care residency) and went into insurance. I hate to say that sometimes it can be more lucrative to "sleep with the enemy" these days...but it's true.

At any rate, as involved as I was in medical review issues, I was also burdened with policy and contract legal issues that arose. It got tiring arguing with the lawyers, so I decided I should go to law school. Even with a medical degree, most companies are going to nod and smile at you while they take the advice of the lawyers who are exceptionally risk-adverse.

I went to a year of evening division law school, but had to leave because I was offered a transfer out of State that I had wanted for years. There are no evening programs near where I am now, so I'm out of the game for the moment.

It's very hard to compare the two programs. They are fundamentally different. Medicine is, of course, a lot of hands on lab work and wrote memorization of minutia. Law school is all about reading the cases and getting the "big picture" and then applying it to fact patterns. Oh, and of course, let's not forget the horrendous amount of legal writing required in 1L. Damn papers!

Anyway, I really liked both programs. From all I have read, you are certainly much better off getting the MD. It is a heck of a lot more versatile outside of medicine (the JD degree is often a hindrance to finding a job outside of the law), and you are virtually guaranteed employment at a good salary (which is hit or miss for lawyers who don't go to the top schools). I also think you have a lot more choice in medicine. Even if your grades aren't great, you can still land a residency in something other than primary care. You may not be an orthopedist or dermatologist without top grades, but there are ample anesthesia and ER programs out there, amongst others. The key is to find your passion (or, at least, something that won't depress you every day). From what I hear, most law associates don't get to pick and choose their specialty unless they open shop for themself, which can be difficult.

You mentioned the lack of intellectual diversity in your program. While I can certainly understand that (you have no time for anything but studying medicine), I don't think law school is the answer. To get the grades, you will need to spend most of your time on law (and some of it is very, very dry).

In the end, it all depends on what you want to do. If you aren't sure, though, I'd stick with medicine because it has much better exit options (biotech companies, insurance companies, etc.). You could also stick around for the MD, do a year of internship to get licensed (depending on your State requirements) and then go to law school. I think it would increase your chances of getting hired by a firm doing medico-legal work.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2006, 08:59:35 PM »
Thank you to everyone who posted, especially Highway.  I think I am going to give law school a pass, at least for right now, and take a leave of absence for a year just to have some fun outside of medicine.  Hopefully, I will return refreshed.

Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2006, 07:28:52 AM »
the JD degree is often a hindrance to finding a job outside of the law

I'd venture to say that a JD will allow one to move more freely in and out of different industries than a medical degree. With an MD, you're likely to be tied to health related employment in one facet or another so long as you claim it as an acheivement on your resume.

Medical doctors are undoubtedly smart, however, the thinking required of most businesses lends itself to the thought pattern of a trained lawyer, more so than a medical doctor. This is, of course, in my experience.

Re: MD --> JD
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2006, 09:42:26 AM »
I don't disagree that a JD would be good to have for business. The difference is that there are a lot of jobs that advertise for MD's, such as with insurance companies and biotech/pharmaceutical companies. Very few jobs that are outside of law require a JD or ask for that.

When a MD applies for the job that asks for a MD degree, there is no issue. This, technically, is still within the field because it is a required degree. When a JD applies for a job outside of law that doesn't require a JD, they are often looked on with suspicion. This is why it is a hindrance. Employers want to know why you are not working in law (they don't understand the legal job market and assume that you could easily get a law job if you wanted to) and they are afraid you'll jump ship soon after being hired because you are overqualified for the job, or you were just waiting for a law job to come through. It has nothing to do with the skill set you bring.

I think this is pretty much the same for most advanced degrees, though. If a MD applies for an insurance sales job, for example, I doubt they would get hired simply because the employer would wonder what is wrong with them and why they aren't working as a physician (e.g. Can't get licensed? Poor personality? Is full of self-doubt?). Advanced degrees are great if you work in your field. Otherwise, they can certainly hinder your ability to get any job outside of the field.