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Author Topic: Should I go to law school?  (Read 2436 times)

student79

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Should I go to law school?
« on: April 08, 2013, 07:29:05 PM »
I am considering going to law school. I would like to get some input from senior attorneys.

I have MS in Engineering, 10 years experience in automotive industry. At work I am responsible for design and release of safety components at a major OEM. I also help our legal guys answer interrogatories when we are being sued by someone. Of course, I consult only from technical side.

How helpful do you think my experience in automotive industry will be for my legal career in product liability realm?

Don't get me wrong, I'd don't want to go after my employer. Automotive OEMs operate very similarly though and I would have pretty good technical perspective at some of the running changes that they adopt.

If you are running a legal firm, would you hire a guy like me with law degree at a decent salary? What is a salary range can a person like me expect?

Thank you for feedback,

student79






IrrX

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2013, 01:25:32 AM »
Personally, if I were in your position, I would take the engineering degree and job experience to work for the Patent and Trademark Office. That would prevent the loss of three years' salary, the hassle of trying to find a job after leaving law school, and would provide a salary at least comparable to what you would be making after law school (if you found a job right away). So, instead of spending a ton of money for three years, you could be making it. I mean, it would be in DC, but I can think of far worse places.

http://careers.uspto.gov/Pages/PEPositions/Jobs.aspx
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student79

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2013, 02:24:57 AM »
Personally, if I were in your position, I would take the engineering degree and job experience to work for the Patent and Trademark Office. That would prevent the loss of three years' salary, the hassle of trying to find a job after leaving law school, and would provide a salary at least comparable to what you would be making after law school (if you found a job right away). So, instead of spending a ton of money for three years, you could be making it. I mean, it would be in DC, but I can think of far worse places.

http://careers.uspto.gov/Pages/PEPositions/Jobs.aspx

IrrX,

Thank you for reply. Its an interesting idea. Being a firm owner or partial owner is very important to me.

You bring good point about salary lose though, I am a family man. If I end up going, I will most likely try part time program at T2 university. I have masters in engineering from good engineering college, at the time when they accepted me my department was ranked #2 in the nation. I did very well on GRE. I should do well on LSAT, predicting over 170, but I think I will pass on the top law school as I do not want to work for a top law firm. I want to work at a small, preferably my own law firm, so I will try to work as engineer and get the degree in the same time. I've done it with my MS degree. It was completely free after tuition reimbursement.

But again, you bring a good point, business case should make sense.

Regards,

Student79


jack24

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2013, 06:59:30 PM »
Do you want to take the patent bar? 
Have you ever considered networking with attorneys to become an expert witness?

It seems like it's almost impossible to predict where you'll end up after law school.  The most predictable areas are Personal Injury, Family Law, Tax, and Patent.  In other words, if you try hard to get into one of those practice areas, you have a much better chance than if you wanted to do Mergers and Acquisitions or corporate litigation.

I think your background is cool, but many small firms won't care unless then need a patent attorney (which would require you to sit for the patent bar).   If you want to open your own firm, you need to consider how good you are at networking and selling, both of which are more important than your engineering background.

IrrX

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2013, 01:45:59 PM »
A T2 school will in no way guarantee a job, of any kind, after graduation. Working in engineering instead of a legal environment while you're in law school will only aggravate this when it comes to hiring. Like Jack said, unless you're taking the patent bar and the firm needs a patent attorney, anything regarding engineering will be perceived as irrelevant (or even viewed negatively, as a waste of time that could've been spent doing legal work) to what they want you to do for them, which is almost as a rule grunt work in any area of law they personally don't want to handle, for any new associate.

Because your goal is to be a partner in your own firm, anyway, you still don't have to go to law school. You just have to know something about business, including accounting, recruitment and hiring practices, marketing, business development, human resources, and know a couple lawyers, and you could be a managing partner of a firm tomorrow. They could even be 3Ls now, and creating the firm could be their first application of what they learned in Business Associations, or whatever they're calling it at their school, once they've passed the bar and are ready to jump into practice.

That expert witness thing Jack talked about: hugely lucrative. I can't believe how much those guys get paid. Do that, yesterday.

I guess a couple questions are in order:

1) Can you explain to me what lawyers do?
2) What excites you about doing that?
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student79

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2013, 09:36:03 PM »
Do you want to take the patent bar? 

No. I posted my question on few boards and everyone is suggesting this. I may consider doing this although patent law is not something that I want to do.

Have you ever considered networking with attorneys to become an expert witness?

I have considered it as a hobby/side income many times. I decided not to do it for now because it could hurt my engineering career. The last thing they want is engineer releasing safety components who is familiar with litigation process, expert witnessing and whistleblower provisions. If I end up going to law school full time I will aggressively pursue this as a source of supplemental income.

It seems like it's almost impossible to predict where you'll end up after law school.  The most predictable areas are Personal Injury, Family Law, Tax, and Patent.  In other words, if you try hard to get into one of those practice areas, you have a much better chance than if you wanted to do Mergers and Acquisitions or corporate litigation.
I would be targeting Personal Injury field.

I think your background is cool, but many small firms won't care unless then need a patent attorney (which would require you to sit for the patent bar). 
Is this because patent law business is a "filler"? When no decent cases are available, there is always someone who needs a patent application drafted for a reasonable fee?

If you want to open your own firm, you need to consider how good you are at networking and selling, both of which are more important than your engineering background.
Yeah, these are part of any success story, no doubt.

Regards,

Student79

student79

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2013, 10:16:34 PM »
A T2 school will in no way guarantee a job, of any kind, after graduation. Working in engineering instead of a legal environment while you're in law school will only aggravate this when it comes to hiring. Like Jack said, unless you're taking the patent bar and the firm needs a patent attorney, anything regarding engineering will be perceived as irrelevant (or even viewed negatively, as a waste of time that could've been spent doing legal work) to what they want you to do for them, which is almost as a rule grunt work in any area of law they personally don't want to handle, for any new associate.

I would be ok with doing grunt work, as long as its in personal injury field related to automotive industry, until I am comfortable to start on my own. 50k a year will be sufficient.

Because your goal is to be a partner in your own firm, anyway, you still don't have to go to law school. You just have to know something about business, including accounting, recruitment and hiring practices, marketing, business development, human resources, and know a couple lawyers, and you could be a managing partner of a firm tomorrow. They could even be 3Ls now, and creating the firm could be their first application of what they learned in Business Associations, or whatever they're calling it at their school, once they've passed the bar and are ready to jump into practice.

I love it! Out of the box thinking, I can always start something like mytestify.com
I want to be a lawyer though, so I am OK with going to school.

That expert witness thing Jack talked about: hugely lucrative. I can't believe how much those guys get paid. Do that, yesterday.

I thought about doing this many times. It's not time yet.

1) Can you explain to me what lawyers do?

1) Lawyers practice law.

2) What excites you about doing that?

2) Its difficult to give a short answer to this question. I will list few points and I can elaborate on them further if you'd like:

a. Opportunity to start my own business
b. Personal and professional growth
c. Opportunity to make more money
d. Its a new challenge

Regards,

Student79

jack24

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2013, 11:44:23 AM »

2) Its difficult to give a short answer to this question. I will list few points and I can elaborate on them further if you'd like:

a. Opportunity to start my own business
b. Personal and professional growth
c. Opportunity to make more money
d. Its a new challenge

Regards,

Student79

While I think you definitely have a leg up on many who will apply to law school, this is concerning.

None of what you listed is unique to the legal field. 

An engineer in this economy getting a law degree so he can start his own business?  Sorry, I must respectfully dissuade you from going on with this twisted logic.   Law firms generate value by building up client bases.  Your revenue stream is based on billing and collecting.   In most cases, attorneys who start their own firms have to bill like crazy, and they don't ever really get a chance to run the business because they are too busy bringing in money.   If you are a gifted rainmaker, you can possible bring in enough to feed associates who will make money for you, but this usually doesn't happen until you have done a ton of legal work.   IN short, you should open a law firm if you love doing legal work, and it's a necessary side benefit that you love sales and management.

Personal and Professional Growth:  Well, okay.   But the law eats professional growth.  Lawyers don't generally cross industries because there are too many conflicts.  It can happen, but it will likely replace any prior accomplishments.

Opportunity to make more money:  Yes, there is an opportunity, but the economy is brutal now, so the median wages for attorneys continue to drop.   Gifted attorneys (who can sell) do end up making a lot of money in the long run, but the legal field is no guarantee.

It's a new challenge: Yeah, but it can be a miserable challenge.  Job satisfaction is terrible, the market is too competitive, and technology is shrinking demand for traditional lawyers. 

I'm not saying you shouldn't be a lawyer, but I personally believe your reasons are bad.

A lawyer is a hybrid Executive Assistant/Counselor/Negotiator/Professional Writer.    Yes, you can go to court and make oral arguments, but it's pretty rare.  PI attorneys have two or three trials a year.  Maybe less. 

I'd feel better if you said, "I love process management and administrative organization"  "I love reading statutes and explaining them" "I love strategizing and negotiating over several months against people who want to screw me" "I love to take dry and boring concepts and write about them in a way people can understand."

The law is like building a home.  You plan out the project, you comply with procedures, You test the soil, you modify the soil, you lay the foundation, you frame and add internal components, you add the roof, then you start to add comfort and cosmetics. 

Except in the law, you spend 90% of your time in the first few stages, and you rarely get to complete the house.   If someone who only loves interior design wants to be a general contractor, I'd tell them they should go into interior design. 

If you love management, go into management.  If you love marketing, go into marketing.  If you love mediation, go into mediation.
Too many students go into law because they think they will enjoy one potential component of the law, and then it turns out they hardly ever do what they like.


IrrX

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2013, 03:30:36 PM »
1) Can you explain to me what lawyers do?

1) Lawyers practice law.


This brief response conveyed far more than I'm sure even you wanted it to. Don't go to law school.
Note: Insults made by me apply to everything associated with the people and ideas being insulted, except for other people.

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IRRX, it seems you enjoy provocation and antagonism.

vuarnet

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Re: Should I go to law school?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2013, 04:45:44 PM »
1) Can you explain to me what lawyers do?

1) Lawyers practice law.


This brief response conveyed far more than I'm sure even you wanted it to. Don't go to law school.

As a prospective student, I see the same thing you do here... that's like saying "engineer's engineer". I'm hoping this is yet another case of mistaken sarcasm, as I've already fell victim to once today. And, as well all know, sarcasm on the Interwebs is a piece of cake to detect :P