Law School Discussion


Which should I do...

get a JD at a state law school- full tuition scholarship
14 (29.2%)
get a PhD at a state school in Biology (brain tumor)  - they pay tuition and will give me a stipend to live off of (3-3.5 years-because I have my masters there already)
25 (52.1%)
slap myself in the head for not knowing what I want
9 (18.8%)

Total Members Voted: 48

JD or PhD in Biology


Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2008, 12:07:38 PM »
I generally agree with weymoo001, though I'd caution you that just because you like science and think you'd like law does not mean you will necessarily like patent law.

I liked science (for the most part), I love writing, and I love law.  Patent law sounded perfect.  But then I did a few of patent prosecution projects as a summer associate, and I was so bored I wanted to shoot myself.  I decided the money was not enough to persuade me to do that for a living. Before you make it your plan, find out what it's like to actually do patent law.  Talk to patent lawyers.  Read patents at (One major patent law activity is writing patents--in particular, writing the "claims" section, because coming up with those and wording them properly is critical).  Skim through some patent bar test prep materials.  Find out if it's for you.

Also, I second the suggestion about health-related degrees.  My college roommate went to nursing school after college.  A couple of years later, when I was still trying to decide on a dissertation project in my PhD program, she had a career where she's in huge demand almost anywhere in the country and has flexible hours and decent pay.  She's also getting her PhD on the side, and unlike basic science, which has a huge oversupply of postdoctoral professor-wannabes, nursing has a professor shortage.  She chose wisely.

Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #31 on: June 01, 2008, 06:41:48 PM »
JG brings up a perfectly valid point which is you must love what you do. If you don't enjoy the study of law then the first year of law school will be torture. Personally, I enjoy writing and talking about science to the lay person with an interest in technology. Also, I am quite well trained in the technical aspects of the life sciences given my extensive laboratory experience. I just want to use this knowledge and training in a different industry and not in the laboratory. Further, I enjoy helping others realize the commercial potential of creative endeavors in the sciences. This is what draws me to the field of patent prosecution and liscensing of technology.It also provides me with an avenue to support a family while doing something I will enjoy.

The poster of this thread has to ask themselves why do they want to do patent work, what do they find interesting about the field, and will this career path compensate them with a lifestyle they want. You can do something you hate just for money which happens alot but the opposite can be true where someone is doing something they truly love but its so poorly funded plus highly competitive it just doesn't reward their efforts with any financial security. The latter is true of many life scientists today.....the juice may not be worth the squeeze.

It is a hard decision. Use your science background either in the health sciences or the legal community. There are other avenues in which the study of law and science intersect. For example, bioethics, public policy in medicine, or forensics. We could certain use more politicians that understood areas of stem cell research. Patent law is just one area.

PS- to the guy who posted the government numbers then made a scatological might want to check your numbers again. With 16 years experience in the field (industry and academia), you are just plain wrong and you might want to talk with a few PhD scientists in the field.

Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2009, 01:51:34 PM »
Under no circumstances do a PHD. Please head my advice. Do not do a PHD. If you are asking the question then you should not do it. I did my PHD in a Howard Hughes Lab and couldn't find a job afterwards. I got a fellowship that paid my salary in my first job, so I was lucky. My PHD boss was interested in giving me to one of his friends as a post doc. It is essentially a slave trade. I give you my student and you give me yours. The post docs in my lab were expected to work 6.5 days per week. In some labs at Harvard they have lab meetings at 8 am on Saturdays or starting at 5 pm the night before Thanksgiving. People in science are ruthless. People sabotage your experiments and hide reagents. There are no jobs. My first professional boss told me that she would not interview anyone without a post doc. She was a big shot at Novartis for over 10 years. She said all of her friends thought the same way at the other big companies. I have 2 Genes and Developments, a Molecular Cell, PNAS, and Nature paper. I have co authorship in a book chapter as well. What does that get me? Nothing, accept a chance to do a post doc with little hope of a tenured position. I guess I can do a post doc and lose my wife. Instead I decided to apply to law school before I lose my current job. People appreciate success. They want to pay you for accomplishing things. As a scientist you will definately fail. Science is about failure. Over and over and over and over again. You learn from your constant failures. Most of the data you compile will not be translated into something important by you. It will take years of putting research together before it can be used to make money and that is what people want to pay you for. They want to pay you to make money for them. The best advice I have been given was by our labs personal maintenance worker. He said no matter how hard you try science never ends. It never ends. You keep working and working and working and there is always another experiment, always another paper you need to finish. It is never enough. You are simply chasing a carrot on a stick. Science is controled by an elite mafioso that got their degrees when we did not know anything. They got their degrees and positions three years out of school. They control the grant money and are the only ones who can do cutting edge research. Do you think they will let you just take your project with you to start your own lab? Do you think that you will get enough funding to continue that kind of research? You need to have some sense smacked into you. Do a profession where you are paid to do something. I tell people that if they really love research so much then do a MD/PHD. If you really have the potential to be successful as a scientist then medical school will be breeze. You can easily get a post doc and have a much easier time getting grants as an MD. You also will have access to patient samples that are treated like gold. I would have to hold up a hospital to get the samples I need. Sorry for going on and on, but if I can stop one person from making a huge mistake then I am happy. By the way if you really think you will get your PHD in 3.5 years then you are most likely crazy. That's if everything works out and that rarely happens. It will always be one more experiment. Every PHD has to fight their way out. I've seen plenty of people with masters degrees take longer than those who started straight from undergrad.


Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #33 on: December 14, 2009, 02:53:09 PM »
Scientists like yourself will always be in demand, and frankly, our nation needs more people willing to devote themselves to scientific endeavor.

These are the sort of statements that are unquestioningly accepted and frequently repeated by politicians, by the media, and by society in general.  Talk to actual scientists, though, and you'll find out quickly these statements are completely wrong.  The nation has FAR too many scientists for the number of decent scientist jobs that exist. 

Maybe the nation needs more engineers (I don't know), but not basic scientists.

Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2009, 03:35:05 PM »
As someone who dropped out of a Biology PhD program to get a law degree, the Bio program was 100000 times worse than law school. The people were competitive (no one ever stole all my notes in law school, but they did in the PhD program), and the professors failed to accept anyone who was "normal" (i.e. a person who didn't spend 24 hours a day in a lab and had a boyfriend or girlfriend).

The economy sucks for lawyers right now, but when things are normal, if you are looking to reside in a certain location, it's much easier to find decent law jobs. Decent science jobs, you have to move around for. After the PhD, you need to do at least two post docs to land a decent "real job." Have fun being in school and making 40k until you are in your mid-thirties (or older).

The PhD program put much more of an emphasis on "facetime" (one time a professor scolded a fellow student for leaving in the middle of the day to see her dying father in the hospital) than any law firm I have heard of

But I will warn you, if you truly want to do anything like patent law, a PhD and JD is ideal. I have a masters in Biology and I never had any luck in the IP field.

Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2009, 04:56:19 PM »
There is a huge oversupply of scientist and engineers contrary to what is presented in the media.  There are literally thousands of PhD's from prestigious universities and lab groups who are stuck in a perinnial post doc position because (1) they cannot find a tenure track faculty position because the market is saturated and (2) they cannot find a position in the industry/govt labs because they think their research was not practical enough and cannot sell themselves during the interview.  Plus this economy is not helping either.   

Its easier to find a science job in the traditional fields with a BS or MS.  With a PhD you better be flexible to work in a field that is not your specialty and also work with an end goal in sight (ie make sure you dont get lost in the "science" but work to develop something that you company wants).
Check out some of the science forum where people are discussing the present situation of overflow of scientist.  Legal field is not the only field that is saturated.

Of course there are certain interdisciplinary fields of science where there are shortages like civil engineers, regulatory scientist etc.   Personaly I would be very wary of Biology, unless you intend to go to Med School or you love it with a passion.  I loved bio mylself but the job prospects with PhD were slim, so I majored in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering and did my PhD in Biophysics/Bioanalytical Chemistry. You still have to network and market yourself to land that first great job, but once you do, you can take it from there. 

If I could do it over again I would have gladly gone to a Topicana school of medicine somewhere in the sunny carribean.


Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #36 on: December 14, 2009, 09:24:06 PM »
I generally agree with chevelle and cranky75.

llsatt1, where are you getting your information about the scientific job market? There is a huge glut of PhDs who "really have that natural ability" but can't get decent jobs (especially if they want or need to be in a particular geographic location or can't move around frequently because of a spouse's job).  Saying, "Research is always being conducted and good researchers are always needed" is no more helpful than saying, "People are always going to sue each other, and good lawyers are always needed."  Both are true, I guess, but the relevant question is whether there are more "good researchers" or "good lawyers" than the market needs.  There are--on both counts.

I know a lot of science PhDs who have left science for other careers.  I am one of them.  Not one of the people I know left science because they thought some other path would make them a "big shot."  (On the contrary, I got a lot more admiration and respect as a PhD scientist, and even as a PhD student, than I do as a practicing lawyer.)  We left because we wanted stable jobs that would allow us to do ordinary middle-class things like settle down in a particular city (instead of moving from postdoc to postdoc every couple of years), buy a house, and/or have enough income to support a family before we were too old to have one. 


Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #37 on: December 15, 2009, 10:50:38 AM »
If you don't know that you want to be a lawyer... then you shouldn't become one. It's too much of an investment if you are not devoted.  Would you buy a $200K apartment that you don't LOVE.

Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2009, 11:42:38 AM »
If you don't know that you want to be a lawyer... then you shouldn't become one. It's too much of an investment if you are not devoted.  Would you buy a $200K apartment that you don't LOVE.

Thats why I am all about going part time and paying off your tuition while working. I enjoy the material, and it is a welcome change from science.  If things do not fall into place with a legal carerr and at least you have a backup

Too bad part time programs are not that prestigious, and you may end up paying 200k for a piece of paper that allows you sit for the bar!


  • ****
  • 488
    • View Profile
Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #39 on: December 15, 2009, 12:51:25 PM »
Your post is very vague.  By basic scientist, what exactly are you referring to?