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 #40 on: December 15, 2009, 03:44:27 PM »
Basic science in my time (ooh about 10-15 years ago) was essentially the three fundamental fields of science: Physics, Chemistry and Biology.  Basic in this sense did not mean easy but simply implied the building blocks of the scientific field: physical, chemical and biological.  Although as you progress through the field and hit the real world pretty much everything is interdisciplinary.  Even all advanced classes pretty much blend the basic sciences into a nice amalgam and the lines dividing the fields have essentially dissapeared (think biochemistry, biophysics, physical chemistry and on and on).  There are still basic science research still going on, but what is considered cutting edge is taking place at the interfaces. 

As for science jobs, if you can network, work in cross functional team and are willing to learn new areas and then blend in what you are familiar with, one can definately lead a nice happy life in industrial settings (I am).  I do agree with what llsatt1 said about science and advancement of mankind and it is a very respectful profession. I would still suggest the OP thinks twice about getting a PhD in biology...
Don't get me wrong, I love learning science, but after so many years I am getting itchy feet. I am personally hoping to blend science and law together in certain areas such regulatory.  Or perhaps law school is the wake up call and the swift kick in the rear end that I need to wake up and reflect at how good I have things (after I spend a house down payment's worth for that degree)   


Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #41 on: December 15, 2009, 04:28:43 PM »
When I said "basic scientist," I meant anyone whose training was in physics, biology, chemistry, or a subset of those fields (genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, etc.).  My primary purpose was to exclude engineers, which is a completely different career path.

But if you have that natural ability in the sciences, you really should stay with it.  Science and technology are the fields that truly advance mankind.

If you want to view doing science as an altruistic thing that advances mankind, fine.  But most people, in considering a career path, balance their altruistic instincts and their desire to satisfy their personal goals (supporting a family, living in a particular area, buying a house, having financial stability).  Do you think that's inappropriate?


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Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #42 on: December 15, 2009, 11:11:57 PM »
I should also add that the people who keep b*tching about their science jobs are experiencing the same problems in EVERY profession.  Reaching the top of any profession is not easy.  Plenty of lawyers can do well in their first several years and then find they can never make partner.  In science, it may indeed be more difficult.  But if you have that natural ability in the sciences, you really should stay with it.  Science and technology are the fields that truly advance mankind.  Other areas are important but their importance is always in the shadow of what science and technology bring to the table.

another know it all kid.


Check back with me in 10 years, kid.


Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #43 on: December 16, 2009, 12:29:41 PM »
If you're actually trying to choose a between two career paths . . .

Things that are helpful:
-opinions of people who are actually working in either field and are 1 to 10 years ahead of you (if they've been around too long, their opinions may be unrealistic and out-of-date)
-opinions of people with career experience in both fields
-concrete descriptions from authoritative sources of exactly what is required to succeed in various subpaths within each field (I'm talking about concrete facts, like the requirement that one do a postdoc before obtaining a tenure-track faculty position, not vague things like you have to love it or have a natural ability for it)

Things that are not helpful:

-opinions of people who have career experience in neither field
-opinions of people who have experience in one field but are offering opinions about the other field
-salary statistics and job satisfaction surveys obtained through Google searches
-magazine articles about hot careers
-observations of what your fellow undergraduates are doing
-anonymous internet postings by people of unknown background

Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #44 on: December 22, 2009, 08:28:09 PM »
We need more women scientists. That's my vote!

Re: JD or PhD in Biology
« Reply #45 on: December 23, 2009, 04:20:32 AM »
I've enjoyed this thread. Just some random thoughts on the subject.

I'm not a scientist, but I work for a company that employs many scientists - so these are industry scientists, not people in academia. I eat lunch with them, so I know their gripes, their aspirations, the top ten people they'd kill if they ever decided to show up to work with a rifle...we're close.

Many people have commented on this already, but the mobility issue is a big one, and as someone already mentioned, it's especially difficult when the person's spouse is a scientist too. That's a big consideration for someone with a family, or considering a family. I would never consider a career that required me to move all around the country to find employment.

On the other hand, if you're really passionate about science, how do you not pursue it?
It's easy to dream though, and think of nothing but your passion. I think the test for someone considering a specific field is to talk to as many people as you can in the field. And beg them to tell you about everything they find unpleasant about the field. And don't let your passion sway you into talking only to people who are happy in the field. Hear all the bad stuff and be honest with yourself about what will make you happy AND whether you have the skills to succeed. And ask yourself if you would really be happy AND successful.

I can see why people who have sacrificed so many years of their lives and regret it, would want to spare others that fate, but clearly there are people who will be happy and successfull scientists, and there are people who will be happy and successful lawyers. It's ridiculous to try to make a blanket statement about either field being a good field to enter or a bad field to enter for EVERYONE. I realize that the OP of this thread asked for everyone's opinion about what they should do, but I've seen so many threads on here where people want to convince the world that law school is a bad idea for everyone.

Not many people love what they do, and so many of us are out there on the hunt for the thing that's really going to make us happy and successful. We spend most of our waking lives at work, and we just want it to be gratifying, or even tolerable. That can make people desperate, and willing to follow a dream that costs 3 years and 150K of debt, or 5 years and the life of a gypsy. My advice would be: Think long and hard about any career choice, talk to anyone in the field who will listen, don't give too much weight to any one opinion, no matter how persuasive or charismatic the person is. Otherwise your dream could turn into a nightmare.