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Author Topic: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school  (Read 6396 times)

escude

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34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« on: January 17, 2010, 12:26:27 AM »
Couldn't find a search function for this board and figured everyone is different so I thought I'd give a brief description of what I do, and why I am thinking of law school.

Basically, I'm 34 year old physician (5 years out in practice), married but no kids. I went to a top 20 undergrad GPA 3.5; went to mid tier US med school, did okay and finished my residency, and am board certified.

Anyways I think I'm a pretty good doctor, technically at least, and my patients like me. But I don't really feel the passion for my career. I don't find medicine particularly intellectually stimulating, nor do I enjoy the stresses of having your mistakes be scrutinized and mistakes potentially costing patients lives or bad outcomes. So, its a very stressful job, because of the human element.

I've started getting some exposure to the law because I do some work with Worker's comp (lots of legal implications) and also peer review work for the state medical board (lots of writing to come up with opinions that have strong legal implications).

I find the work challenging *and* intellectually stimulating. In fact I enjoy the aspects of how law and society impact health care, and actually law in general. I can see myself actually enjoying reading, gathering facts, coming up with an argument, etc.

problem is, I'm older and if I go to law school then I'm looking at 38-40 by the time I graduate. Plus to boot I'd either be ditching my day job to take on some loans (already have ~100K from med school), or going to night school which I could pay tuition with but would be tough. So time is definitely a concern.

Med school taught me how to digest large amounts of info; I know its different for law but the bigger problem for me is it gets harder and harder to crack open books every year after you left undergrad!

Then the problem is how employable is a 40 year old MD-JD who is used to 6 figure salary, and how realistic it would be to get to or above an average physician salary? Of course there is the argument that I'd be doing something potentially that I'd like more so... Salary is important in the sense of opportunity cost; if I spent time and money to take a huge risk or pay cut then that is a scary prospect.

Would I be looking at having to fight for a big firm job?

Oh btw I would not limit myself to healthcare law although that is a market I think I'd transition well to.

Anyways I'd welcome discussion on what people think; good idea? bad idea? tips or advice?
thanks for reading.

cooleylawstudent

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2010, 12:13:53 PM »
There are a lot of good lawyers/doctors. A lot of people also have joint JD/CPA/Real estate,etc.

If you want to do it go for it.

If you are under 44 and want to pay off student loans and make good money(either fulltime or reserve) with only a 2week basic training consider the USPHCC http://usphs.gov  a little known branch of the military that is all officer and mostly laid back reserved for docotors, engineers, nurses.

simonsays

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2010, 01:06:51 PM »
There are a lot of good lawyers/doctors. A lot of people also have joint JD/CPA/Real estate,etc.

If you want to do it go for it.

If you are under 44 and want to pay off student loans and make good money(either fulltime or reserve) with only a 2week basic training consider the USPHCC http://usphs.gov  a little known branch of the military that is all officer and mostly laid back reserved for docotors, engineers, nurses.


Dude, the guy wants to better a physicians salary and justify the opportunity cost of going to law school.  I don't believe the department of health and human services is the way to go.

Opportunity cost based on average physician salary:  $200k * 3 = $600k in lost income + $60-90k in additional law school debt.  Total Opportunity cost ~ $700,000 f-ing dollars in a period of THREE goddamn years!

He's going to need to make ~ $450k straight out of law school to break even in 6 years post graduation (total of 9 years), and this says nothing about the lost investment potential.

I still say a MBA is a better way to leverage the MD.

Jamie Stringer

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2010, 01:31:23 PM »
Well, let's say you scored in the 170s on the LSAT. You'd likely be in at one of the T-14 law schools. Tuition cost = roughly $45K per year. You wouldn't get much in the way of need-based aid, at least for first year, because of your 6 figure income. Worst case scenario is that you have to take out about $150K in student loans (now you're $250K in the hole). Then come classes...and really, who knows how your grades will be. If we assume median, let's further state that you would get a job making $160K upon graduation (which is not a guarantee anymore).

So, by my count, it will have taken you 3 years of no income PLUS an additional $150K in student loan debt to make $160K. Does the extra $60K to start (max) plus a "sense of fulfillment" (which is probably unlikely to come) justify the additional $150K in student loans + $300K (minimum) of missed income?


I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but it's important to think of the economic repercussions.

Quote from: Tim Mitchell

F*cking bi+ch drinks a 1 oz bottle of goose and thinks she's French

cooleylawstudent

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2010, 01:46:01 PM »
If your afraid of debt you shouldn't have started an AA even, it happens just try to control it. As far as the OP's opinion on the USPHCC he must've not noticed the reserve option(which qualfies for GI bill to pay student loans) If your a coward who's too scared to even wear a uniform one a month then stay home and be suck on a bottle. Personally I dont know how anyone who dosn't at least serve one tour in the reserves can look in the mirror without pukeing their guts out due to disgust.

escude

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2010, 02:27:56 PM »
this is good discussion and i welcome it. Actually its great I am getting a lot of reality checks here to temper any illogical thoughts.

A few points:

1. opportunity cost - the post of losing $700K for me is a touch high for me although it could be mitigated by going night school and working days as an MD. I'm not a surgeon or OB/gyn so i have relatively controllable hours. (I'll ask a question about night school). But yes you bring it into light i'd have to be a 'whale' type lawyer to make up opportunity cost. Based on what I am reading in the economy and lawyers going through tough times that will be tough.

The law profession appears to be going through what medicine went through in the 80's; the 'golden era' of medicine where doctors could afford to join country clubs etc.

2. Uniformed services; good thought. not sure its right for me. Government service is something I can see myself doing age 58-65 or so when i try to wind down and have a nest egg such that I can do something different. Laid back is good, not sure if I am ready for this in my 30's though.

3. Type of school - this becomes huge. Med schools don't matter much for doctors; residencies do. For Law it looks like law school you go to makes a HUGE difference.

So for me to stay local, keep my house, etc. I could go to a solid Tier 2(?) school locally (U. Houston) with a good health law program, move a couple hours away to Austin (UT) if I could get in still not pay that much tuition, or totally uproot my entire life and try and get to a T14 that I could score. Wow that's a lot to think of.

Sounds like there are a lot of people even from Top schools having hard time getting work.

5. To the poster who suggested MBA and Private equity. I guess if money was the sole motivating factor in my life that may work but I think after this economy the odds of getting that type of jobs with that pay is very slim. Economic contraction is hitting everyone and something tells me there's a lot of banker types sitting around trying to get jobs as well.

This has all been great discussion. I think it ultimately boils down to how badly do I want to get in/out of a situation.

cooleylawstudent

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2010, 08:19:51 PM »
It sounds like you have a good game plan. I hope that it works out good for you.

If you do want to wait untill after 50 to serve remember CAP http://www.cap.gov , CGAUX http://www.cgaux.org  and your local SDF http://www.sgaus.org

Alamo

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2010, 08:38:29 PM »
A couple more minor things to add:

1) It's very difficult to predict how the law firm hiring market would look in 4 years when you'd be getting out of school.  My guess is that it will be better than it is now, but I wouldn't expect a return to the 2006/2007 peak (from the law student's perspective, anyway).  But the dire stories coming out now on law student hiring are, most likely, the trough of the cycle, or close to it.

2) You will not have a big firm job simply handed to you, like you would have as a median-level UT grad 3 years ago, but your unique experience will give you a leg up on your competitors for jobs, the overwhelming majority of whom will have no marketable skill other than their legal education, and virtually no professional experience.  Particularly if you want to go into something like medical malpractice defense, and many large firms work in this area (or in other areas of health law), you'd be in great position.

As a purely economic decision, it's probably not your best bet (although if you factor in the risk of getting slapped with a malpractice verdict, which is low risk but potentially catastrophic, that could change the calculus).  But if you're looking for something more stimulating, you've got a good chance at doing better than the hordes of people flocking to law school just to avoid the real world, although you ABSOLUTELY WILL have to spend a lot of time cracking the books if you want to do well. 

Part of opportunity cost of staying where you are is being bored, and wondering what it would have been like if you'd followed your inclinations into law.  As long as you go into it without the delusions of financial grandeur, it may be the right decision for you personally, even if it does not maximize your earnings.

I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

petermharrington

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2010, 10:57:03 PM »

DON'T DO IT. YOU'RE MUCH BETTER OFF STAYING A DOCTOR

cooleylawstudent

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Re: 34 yo doctor - thinking of law school
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2010, 01:11:03 AM »
Its a hard choice to make,but I can pretty much promise the guy posting last isnt a doctor himself. My Dad is and has told all those who ask him not to go into the profession since its not worth the debt anymore for the income and might be worse soon with govt planned medling.