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Author Topic: Should I quit?  (Read 4937 times)

ISUCKATTHIS

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Should I quit?
« on: April 08, 2009, 12:48:31 AM »
I'm at a school that ranks toward the bottom of the T14 in my second semester.  In my first semester, I was slightly above median.  I'm not going to do any better this semester and may even end up doing worse.

My question:  should I get out now?  Law school is ridiculously expensive and, with salaries stagnating and possibly plummeting in the near future, it no longer seems worth it... particularly given that I'm not doing very well.

I left a career as an engineer (semiconductor devices) to go into patent law.  I was a researcher and I could probably go back to it.  I'd only do that, though, if being in the median really means that I'd have poor career opportunities in patent law. 

I have already passed the patent bar and have 3 years of experience working as a patent agent prosecuting patent applications.

"That One"

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2009, 01:28:44 AM »
I'm at a school that ranks toward the bottom of the T14 in my second semester.  In my first semester, I was slightly above median.  I'm not going to do any better this semester and may even end up doing worse.

My question:  should I get out now?  Law school is ridiculously expensive and, with salaries stagnating and possibly plummeting in the near future, it no longer seems worth it... particularly given that I'm not doing very well.

I left a career as an engineer (semiconductor devices) to go into patent law.  I was a researcher and I could probably go back to it.  I'd only do that, though, if being in the median really means that I'd have poor career opportunities in patent law. 

I have already passed the patent bar and have 3 years of experience working as a patent agent prosecuting patent applications.

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ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2009, 10:54:51 AM »
Huh?

nealric

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2009, 12:15:09 PM »
Assuming this is not a flame:

Everyone is going to tell you not to quit. Unless you are 100% decided that you hate the law, it makes no sense. A solid T14 student who has passed the patent bar is about as golden as you are going to get in this economy (Save the HYS types).

The way law school grading works (with a lot of people clustered in the middle and a few outliers), it's more than possible to significantly increase your class rank 2nd semester by becoming one of those top-end outliers for that semester.
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ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2009, 12:40:34 PM »
Thanks for the thoughtful post.  I guess I've become dissilusioned now that I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be one of those outliers.  I wouldn't have quit first semester because, in my mind, I wouldn't have had enough experience to know what I was giving up... or whether things would turn around.  Now I'm pretty sure that I'm destined for mediocrity, as far as law school is concerned.  I'm not the worst, but I'm nowhere near the top. 

I suppose I'm just sort of thinking out loud.  I mean, if salaries were to remain what they are now (~$145k) it would make financial sense for me to finish.  The extra debt ($120k) would be absorbed by the increase in pay I would get over my pay as an engineer within the first two years as an associate.  Subsequently, the law degree would open doors to making far more money than I'd ever be able to see as an engineer.

However, I could quit now and go back to making around $80k.  That's not great and, of course, I could get laid off or something... but with law no longer a sure thing I'm questioning whether or not staying still makes as much sense as it used to.  If I end up graduating in the middle of my class and taking a job that pays around $100k, I will have made a poor financial decision by staying in law school.

Matthies

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2009, 12:58:51 PM »
Only stay in law school if you want to be a lawyer, donít stay if you whole purpose was just to increase your salary over other job. There are easier and more satisfying ways to make money then going to law school to be a lawyer if youíre not passionate about the being a lawyer thing. More $ as primary motivator for anything you have to go into a lot of debt for is not a good idea. If when itís all over being a lawyer is not enough to keep you happy regardless of pay, then donít go to law school to learn how to be one. 
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

nealric

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2009, 01:28:26 PM »
Quote
However, I could quit now and go back to making around $80k.  That's not great and, of course, I could get laid off or something... but with law no longer a sure thing I'm questioning whether or not staying still makes as much sense as it used to.  If I end up graduating in the middle of my class and taking a job that pays around $100k, I will have made a poor financial decision by staying in law school.

I would at least stick around for OCI. That would give you a pretty good idea on what your prospects are. I would also add that it is my understanding that a lot of patent work is as much engineering work as it is legal work- so that might undermine Matthies just a tad (since you wouldn't just be practicing law for the money)
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ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2009, 02:06:52 PM »
"More $ as primary motivator for anything you have to go into a lot of debt for is not a good idea."

I've been on both sides of this issue.  I agree that you will not be happy if the only satisfaction you derive from your work is a salary.  However, especially in this country, money is the primary reason for taking any job.  If you take a lower paying job in your twenties (as I did) because you enjoy the work and you assume that professional satisfaction alone will be enough to carry you through to retirement... you're being as foolish I was.  Life in America takes money.  People with out it aren't just less happy... they're less healthy, they have fewer opportunities and they live shorter lives, on average.  Getting paid is actually a very good reason to work.

I am not saying that I do not like working in law.  I do like it.  Would I do it if people in the legal profession were paid like highschool gym teachers?  The answer to that question would not just be a firm "no" it would be a firm "@#!* no."

I also think that most law students, regardless of what they tell themselves, have no real idea as to whether or not they'll "love" being a lawyer.  The vast majority are just like me... they THINK they'll like the work and they KNOW they'll like the salary.  You can tell yourself that you "love the law" and you're in this for the pure intellectual challenge... but, at the end of the day, I don't think you're being straight with yourself.  If you are being straight with yourself, you're probably crazy.

ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2009, 02:57:16 PM »
By the way:  I don't mean you specifically or to call any one "crazy."  I was speaking in general terms about my experience and the conclusions I've drawn from it.

M_Cool

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Re: Should I quit?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2009, 04:00:30 PM »
It's crazy the expectations some people have.  Quitting a T14 just because you are slightly above median and not at the top of their class or a potential SCOTUS clerk type?  And anyways, there's plenty of people who have ended up doing extremely well even though they didn't finish in the top of their class at the end of the first year.  Stop equating your self-worth with your class rank. 

Although I have done well so far in school, there are plenty of people ranked above me that I just flat out know that aren't as valuable as me.  Employers may undoubtedly hire them over me, but in the end the market works itself out and I have confidence that I'll do extremely well.  Take a step back from the % ranks and just ask yourself if you are either better or have the potential to be better than someone you know is ranked above you.  If the answer is yes, you will be fine as long as you put the work in.