Is it worth it to go to med school over law school?

disque71

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Anyone have some convincing data as to why it would be a better decision to pursue a career in law over health?

The main reason I want to get into medicine is because it’s morally rewarding. But the big concern that comes to mind is the cost of mal-practice insurance. Realistically I need to eat and provide for a family. Are the years and years of school and vast tuition debt really economical? I live in PA and plan on living here, but PA has one of the nations highest insurance rates for doctors. I have spoken with a few PA MD’s and they say this is currently one of their primary concerns. I have even heard stories of some PA doctors biting the bullet and going back to school for something like bioengineering.

What do you guys think?
 

Blue Scrub

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cmon.....no one likes lawyers unless its your own and he/she is great at protecting your ace....be a doc
 

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disque71 said:
Anyone have some convincing data as to why it would be a better decision to pursue a career in law over health?

The main reason I want to get into medicine is because it’s morally rewarding. But the big concern that comes to mind is the cost of mal-practice insurance. Realistically I need to eat and provide for a family. Are the years and years of school and vast tuition debt really economical? I live in PA and plan on living here, but PA has one of the nations highest insurance rates for doctors. I have spoken with a few PA MD’s and they say this is currently one of their primary concerns. I have even heard stories of some PA doctors biting the bullet and going back to school for something like bioengineering.

What do you guys think?
I seriously doubt that you will starve as a doctor...as far as economics are concerned, your main reason, or the selling point rather, should be the fact that job security in medicine is much greater than in law; not for nothing, laywers are a dime a dozen, just look at the ratio of law schools to med schools. To make a substantial amount in law, you really need to be in the top 10% of your class and work 80 hours a week (sound familiar)...lawyers are the reason for ridiculously unfair malpractice rates...Finally, what to you want to do? These career paths differ vastly; are you the type to help those and give all of your time to them or are you (not to sound harsh) selfish?...lawyers are the reason for ridiculously unfair malpractice rates and they are preventing doctors from earning what they should...so you need to decide, what team do you want to play for?
 

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Gee, I guess that depends on what you want to do with your life.
 

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You know, there are other career options besides just those two. I think malpractice is over hyped and med school debt is nothing compared to how much you will earn over your life time as a doctor. Also, does the world really need another lawyer?
 
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disque71

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I have always wanted to pursue a career in medicine but I keep hearing many downsides to medicine. But I think I am going to go to med school regardless.
 

dtreese

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Do both.
 

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disque71 said:
Anyone have some convincing data as to why it would be a better decision to pursue a career in law over health?

The main reason I want to get into medicine is because it’s morally rewarding. But the big concern that comes to mind is the cost of mal-practice insurance. Realistically I need to eat and provide for a family. Are the years and years of school and vast tuition debt really economical? I live in PA and plan on living here, but PA has one of the nations highest insurance rates for doctors. I have spoken with a few PA MD’s and they say this is currently one of their primary concerns. I have even heard stories of some PA doctors biting the bullet and going back to school for something like bioengineering.

What do you guys think?
Lawyers "chase ambulances" and other things to find clients. Doctors will always have patients, and the demand for physicians is so high that there will always be a job for you somewhere. There is no shortage of lawyers.

You make enough money in either field to be happy.
 

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Did anyone else know that a group of lawyers from Germany and the U.S. are suing the U.S. government for not being able to predict the tsunami in SE Asia?
 

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YzIa said:
Gee, I guess that depends on what you want to do with your life.
I agree -- it's like apples and oranges. You have to go with the career that interests you and will make you happy. There are plusses and minuses to each career path. If you need to go into a profession but don't care what it is, maybe it's time to take some time off and figure out what you want to do with your life.

If you are primarilly money driven, I would note that the better ranked law graduates of each school do better sooner financially than their medical school counterparts, and so it is a more lucrative profession. (And it is far more than just the top 10% who do quite well for themselves, although I agree with the hours suggested). But there is probably even more money in banking/finance right now. And dentistry is pretty lucrative considering the shorter hours many keep. Most physicians tend to live comfortably but not many are going to make the Forbes list any time soon.

To be fair though, most lawyers don't practice medmal and at least half of all lawyers do not work in any form of litigation practice so it's a bit unfair to blame all lawyers for high insurance rates. And for each lawyer who brings medmal cases, there is another who exclusively defends against them. Finally, I would note that lawyers also have to pay their own malpractice insurance (although it is paltry compared to what an OB/GYN pays), so you don't totally escape this cost by going to a different profession.
 

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If you're looking at this from a purely economic/ quality of life perspective, I think med school has it all over law school.
As other people have mentioned, the market is glutted with lawyers. In Boston many recent law graduates find that the only way to get a job is to move out of the city, sometimes even the state (don't get me started on MA and negative population growth).

Check out this site from the department of labor for some interesting stats regarding income and job growth for lawyers and docs.
http://www.bls.gov/oco/
You may also want to check out other professions too. As someone stated above, there are lots of other high paying professional jobs out there.
May I suggest pharmacy?

I think ultimately your choice should be based on what you enjoy doing and what you can see yourself doing for years and years to come.

Good Luck to you! :luck:
 

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I thought about going to law school myself (along with SEVERAL other career paths. Man I've spent a lot of time thinking about this).

I guess I wouldn't feel like I was "helping people" as a lawyer, unless I were an environmental or human rights lawyer. Both noble, LOW paid professions. You'd most certainly make more money as a doctor, even after considering insurance.

Lawyers don't make nearly as much money as I thought they did before I looked into it. Exceptions are entertainment lawyers and corporate lawyers. Being the liberal-minded lady I am, I consider both to be kind of evil. I mean technically you're "helping people", you're just helping wealthy people who don't need much help.

Not to mention... law school itself sucks, so i hear. there's plenty of work at med school, but at least it's kind of interesting! depending on who you are, anyway. but personally i'd dread the thought of having to read hundreds of pages on property law.

Anyhow, there's my opinion. If you are passionate about health, be a doctor. The money situation isn't really an issue.
 

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TwoLegacies said:
I thought about going to law school myself (along with SEVERAL other career paths. Man I've spent a lot of time thinking about this).

I guess I wouldn't feel like I was "helping people" as a lawyer, unless I were an environmental or human rights lawyer. Both noble, LOW paid professions. You'd most certainly make more money as a doctor, even after considering insurance.

Lawyers don't make nearly as much money as I thought they did before I looked into it. Exceptions are entertainment lawyers and corporate lawyers. Being the liberal-minded lady I am, I consider both to be kind of evil. I mean technically you're "helping people", you're just helping wealthy people who don't need much help.

Not to mention... law school itself sucks, so i hear. there's plenty of work at med school, but at least it's kind of interesting! depending on who you are, anyway. but personally i'd dread the thought of having to read hundreds of pages on property law.

Anyhow, there's my opinion. If you are passionate about health, be a doctor. The money situation isn't really an issue.
I like your post. To be fair most people I know liked law school and found it interesting -- it was the actual practice that became a little trying. But this again goes to the point that you should only go into it if you know you are interested. Reading property law is only as boring to a person interested in health as reading pathology would be to someone interested in law. It simply takes a different mindset.
But to correct a few things: First, an "environmental lawyer" can make a ton, but they need to work on the industry side (not what you meant, I know). Public Interest lawyers don't make much, but then again public health/clinic types don't do well at all in medicine either -- there is simply no paying client to bill in either field. Second, corporate lawyers compose probably the largest percentage of all lawyers by field, so it is not like saying just one small specialty is well paid. Third, more than just those two specialties you mentioned are well paid. IP attorneys do well, as usually do tax, estate, and bankruptcy. Finally, part of the reason an entertainment lawyer makes a lot of money is that it is rarely an entry level field -- you typically need to be a good nuts and bolts contracts/commercial lawyer before you can make the jump into entertainment law, so it's not a great field to use in comparison.
 

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That's what Medicaid/Medicare is for.

-X

P.S. I like your posts. They are well-reasoned, which is pretty rare around here.

Law2Doc said:
... but then again public health/clinic types don't do well at all in medicine either -- there is simply no paying client to bill in either field.
 

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as a doc, you won't be broke, seriously
 

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Biscuit799 said:
Did anyone else know that a group of lawyers from Germany and the U.S. are suing the U.S. government for not being able to predict the tsunami in SE Asia?
They had the ability to predict it, and that technology is in use for the "Ring of Fire" through a joint agreement between U.S., Japan, Australia, and others. Countries in the area of the Tsunami did not participate in this agreement, and are thus not covered in the U.S. Tsunami warning system. It is their own fault for not being part of the warning system---not the U.S.'s.
 

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I think people don't know much about law when I see comments like "nobody likes lawyers" and "lawyers are ambulance-chasers." Who do you think is going to represent you when you get sued for malpractice? Lawyers are a necessary part of society; we couldn't have law without lawyers, or who would prosecute and defend people who broke the law? Lawyers are also intricately involved in forming the law. As far as "helping people", some lawyers help people and some doctors don't; it totally depends on what you're doing with the degree.

In terms of money: my father is a lawyer with the US Department of Justice (US Attorney's Office), and he makes over $100k a year. My mother spent 18 years in Legal Aid, representing people without enough money to pay for a lawyer, and she made probably less than $60-70k a year. Now, in private practice, she probably makes around $150k. Just as in medicine, the specialty determines how much you'll make. But I think my mother would argue that she helps people now as well, just in a totally different way.

Both medicine and law can be very morally rewarding. They are totally different professions, and you have to do what's best for you. My father does a lot of cases that involve medicine, so his shelves are full of medical textbooks, and he knows tons about medicine without being a doc. So if you just like the intellectual part of medicine, you can always consider an area of law that is tied in to medicine.
 

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OSUdoc08 said:
They had the ability to predict it, and that technology is in use for the "Ring of Fire" through a joint agreement between U.S., Japan, Australia, and others. Countries in the area of the Tsunami did not participate in this agreement, and are thus not covered in the U.S. Tsunami warning system. It is their own fault for not being part of the warning system---not the U.S.'s.
From what I've read, the first countries to get hit got hit within an hour of possible detection anyhow, so it's not clear that anything could have been done with that limited warning. Maybe they could get some people off the beaches, but really nothing in the way of evacuation. I wouldn't expect this suit to be going anyplace.
 

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Here's some data: Lawyers = $$$$, Doctors = $$$

If you **** up as a lawyer who's going to sue you, because the guy that gets the brunt of it goes to jail.

If you **** up as a doctor, you kill someone, you get sued, and you go to jail.....thanks to a lawyer.
 

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AStudent said:
If you **** up as a lawyer who's going to sue you, because the guy that gets the brunt of it goes to jail.

If you **** up as a doctor, you kill someone, you get sued, and you go to jail.....thanks to a lawyer.
Malpractice and criminal law are totally different animals -- it's highly unlikely for a doctor to go to jail for medmal. And criminal law as a field is a very small segment of the legal profession, and so it's not the average lawyer whose clients end up in jail. More likely they lose money, and they do, in fact, sue their lawyers in such case. But even in the criminal law setting, a client in jail can certainly sue his former lawyer.
 

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I can't help you pick medicine vs. law -- you obviously have to decide that yourself. But if you like medicine, becoming a physician is not the only way to be involved in healthcare (unless you have a large ego that needs constant grooming) -- you could be a dentist, PA, nurse, nurse practitioner, anesthesiology assistant, OT, PT, social worker, optometrist, podiatrist, etc, etc. It's not like doctors work in total isolation. I often wonder if I would have considered becoming one of those if I had known more about them before med school. The pay can be comparable, esp. compared to a PCP.
 

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AStudent said:
Here's some data: Lawyers = $$$$, Doctors = $$$

If you **** up as a lawyer who's going to sue you, because the guy that gets the brunt of it goes to jail..
Or you could be disbarred for gross misconduct. Or more likely, the case could be thrown out for incompetence. Or most likely, you could get canned by a partner and replaced by the latest up and coming from some top law school.

Regarding the original post, I actually dropped out of a top 10 law school to pursue medicine. IMHO, this shouldn't be a question you have to think about long and hard in order to make. You're doing the right thing in asking yourself the right questions, but when it comes down to it, I'd only go into medicine if I knew that I would feel guilty not doing it, as if it were my true calling. The path is too long and rigorous if you're not at least passionate about it to some degree.

A law degree is more flexible than an M.D. and offers countless opportunities to jump into the business world, particularly for those who set the right foot through the right doors to start with (i.e. those who went to top law schools and then started with large corporate firms).

In slight disagreement with some of what has been mentioned, there are a multitude of rewarding and interesting legal specialties that offer excellent compensation. My ex-roommate is getting heavily involved with (and compensated by) a law firm that specializes in the defense industry, for instance. ( :rolleyes: @ evil corporations comment ;) )

With that sad, it's best to understand what you're getting into. Know that unlike medicine, the highest paying legal jobs are usually in urban areas. Also realize that you pretty much have to graduate from a top law school or at the very top of your class in a lesser (read: top 25 law school) school to acquire these positions or make your own way to the top in a field where the objective is to tear your opponent down. Just do some reading at infirmation.com and Greedy Associates to hear other lawyers' personal experiences and get a feel for things.

Also, while I enjoyed law school (probably far more than I would have enjoyed the practice of law), I'm positive I'm going to enjoy med school and the practice of medicine far more.

Just keep in mind that medicine is a huge commitment. If you're not dedicated 100%, I'd give yourself some time to sort things out.
 

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AStudent said:
Here's some data: Lawyers = $$$$, Doctors = $$$

If you **** up as a lawyer who's going to sue you, because the guy that gets the brunt of it goes to jail.

If you **** up as a doctor, you kill someone, you get sued, and you go to jail.....thanks to a lawyer.
If you are going to base your decision on amount of money made, then the lowest paid medical specialties can make higher than the average lawyer.

If you are going to base your decision on which job you could get in less trouble for if you screw up: please don't go into medicine.
 

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disque71 said:
Anyone have some convincing data as to why it would be a better decision to pursue a career in law over health?

The main reason I want to get into medicine is because it’s morally rewarding. But the big concern that comes to mind is the cost of mal-practice insurance. Realistically I need to eat and provide for a family. Are the years and years of school and vast tuition debt really economical? I live in PA and plan on living here, but PA has one of the nations highest insurance rates for doctors. I have spoken with a few PA MD’s and they say this is currently one of their primary concerns. I have even heard stories of some PA doctors biting the bullet and going back to school for something like bioengineering.

What do you guys think?

There is a research paper (i think on aamc.org) from last may that found that dollar for dollar, when considering education espenses, time, etc that on average a doctor will fair off better economic-wise than the average lawyer. Something like a medicine degree was worth 1.2 million + interest after being invested for 30 years and a law degree was worth 0.9 million + interest..... i will look for this article. anyone remember which one i am talking about ?


edit: http://sls.downstate.edu/pdfs/financialaid/MedicalSchoolDebt.pdf pg. 22-23
...now wonder i couldnt find it on aamc.org, it was ama...
 

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I'm a JD, hated law, and am now pre-med. Lawyers are a dime a dizen. It's very hard to get a good job if you aren't at a top school or are willing to start in some remote area.

I think medicine wins, hands down. I would never go back to law. Blech.
 

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OSUdoc08 said:
If you are going to base your decision on amount of money made, then the lowest paid medical specialties can make higher than the average lawyer.
I think the problem is that everyone on this board keeps comparing the averages across the professions. In fact the average GPA for law is much lower than that of medicine. Someone who graduates college with a 3.5 and who would have scored 30+ on the MCAT will have the brain power and discipline to be far above average in law.
(And I continue to dispute the notion that only the top students at the top 25 schools do well in law -- there is certainly a range, but I know many many people not in this demographic who are doing quite well).
Also I think the above statement by OSUdoc is somewhat inaccurate in that it doesn't note that the lawyer will start earning his bling after just 3 years of school, while the lowest paid medical specialty will not have any significant earnings until after 4 years of school and 4+ years of residency. Thus the time value of money put the lawyer in an insurmountable lead.
 

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Law2Doc said:
I think the problem is that everyone on this board keeps comparing the averages across the professions. In fact the average GPA for law is much lower than that of medicine. Someone who graduates college with a 3.5 and who would have scored 30+ on the MCAT will have the brain power and discipline to be far above average in law.
(And I continue to dispute the notion that only the top students at the top 25 schools do well in law -- there is certainly a range, but I know many many people not in this demographic who are doing quite well).
Also I think the above statement by OSUdoc is somewhat inaccurate in that it doesn't note that the lawyer will start earning his bling after just 3 years of school, while the lowest paid medical specialty will not have any significant earnings until after 4 years of school and 4+ years of residency. Thus the time value of money put the lawyer in an insurmountable lead.

But if you read that article posted, the lead is only short lived. The average physician starts much higher than the average lawyer, and continues to be paid more, except when you compare the top lawyers who make partners in firms working 90 hrs a week (Typically).
 

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fun8stuff said:
But if you read that article posted, the lead is only short lived. The average physician starts much higher than the average lawyer, and continues to be paid more, except when you compare the top lawyers who make partners in firms working 90 hrs a week (Typically).
Again, the average med student would be an above average lawyer -- so the comparison doesnt work...
 

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disque71 said:
Anyone have some convincing data as to why it would be a better decision to pursue a career in law over health?

The main reason I want to get into medicine is because it’s morally rewarding. But the big concern that comes to mind is the cost of mal-practice insurance. Realistically I need to eat and provide for a family. Are the years and years of school and vast tuition debt really economical? I live in PA and plan on living here, but PA has one of the nations highest insurance rates for doctors. I have spoken with a few PA MD’s and they say this is currently one of their primary concerns. I have even heard stories of some PA doctors biting the bullet and going back to school for something like bioengineering.

What do you guys think?
What the hell are you talking about? Feed your family??? When was the last time you met a starving doctor???

Man, you need to get your **** together.
 

japhy

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Again, the average med student would be an above average lawye
i don't know law2doc... i think that most med students work plenty hard and are plenty smart but my experience has been med students are trained to think in a very formulaic scientific fashion and have a hard time stepping out of that box.

that is not to say that law school is hard. it is a joke compared to med school. but it requires a very different set of skills than med school. just my take from the trenches...
 

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japhy said:
i don't know law2doc... i think that most med students work plenty hard and are plenty smart but my experience has been med students are trained to think in a very formulaic scientific fashion and have a hard time stepping out of that box.

that is not to say that law school is hard. it is a joke compared to med school. but it requires a very different set of skills than med school. just my take from the trenches...
Perhaps, but the schools (both law and med) use the numbers (GPA and standardized test) as the primary factor in deciding admit people so there must be some correlation to success. The more science oriented types who go into patent law and the more number oriented folks who go into tax seemed to do just fine with the skill set required for the other courses. You certainly didn't see the low college GPA people suddenly become the ones who graded onto law review in law school, for the most part. Thus I still posit that a group of med school bound people with an average GPA of 3.5+ and a 30+ MCAT would make a very competitive and above average law school class -- should they so desire. And you can't deny that the average law school GPA is significantly lower than the average med school GPA.
 

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I didn't read the response so I apologize as I'm sure this is redundant.

It all depends which career you prefer...they are not one bit a like. Anyone who seriously analyzes the two as their only career paths appears to just want a career that is professional, prestigious and makes a lot of money. :thumbdown:
 

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Psycho Doctor said:
I didn't read the response so I apologize as I'm sure this is redundant.

It all depends which career you prefer...they are not one bit a like. Anyone who seriously analyzes the two as their only career paths appears to just want a career that is professional, prestigious and makes a lot of money. :thumbdown:
I would tend to agree. There are great reasons to do one or the other, but it's hard to imagine them to have equal appeal due to the differences.
 

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japhy said:
but it requires a very different set of skills than med school.
being the only one in my family not in law, i will definitely attest to that; one is not better or necessarily harder but just very very different, although i do think the law school process is much easier than med school
 

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Psycho Doctor said:
being the only one in my family not in law, i will definitely attest to that; one is not better or necessarily harder but just very very different, although i do think the law school process is much easier than med school
The skill sets are different, but they are learned, not innate...
 

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japhy said:
i don't know law2doc... i think that most med students work plenty hard and are plenty smart but my experience has been med students are trained to think in a very formulaic scientific fashion and have a hard time stepping out of that box.
Having experience mentoring both medical students and engineering students in a research setting I will have to agree with japthy. Sometimes I think the road to medical school is a giant treadmill -just run fast enough and someone will always tell you where to go. To me success in other fields seems to require the exercise of more ingenuity and creativity because the path is not as clearly defined.

That is not to say that there aren't opportunities for "helping people" in law. They are just less overt with a larger financial price. My father is a self-employed real estate and business lawyer (with some patent for fun). While this affords him the freedom to turn down nasty clients and do pro-bono work for causes he believes in, he pays a heavy financial price. Even though he is in his mid 60s, he logs 100 hours a week. The work is tedious, frustrating, and as he puts it "by nature everyone I deal with is angry." As you might guess, he has talked many of my friends out of law and spends his spare time dabbling in the sciences. (Note, since this is SDN, someone will probably question the ranking of his law school. Well, he went to Harvard Law, so do the math).

Having said this, if a decision to choose law or medicine is being made based on finances alone, someone is asking the wrong questions. They are extraordinarily different fields. Medicine and law seem to have some strange societal stamp of approval and prestige. Is it possible that that disque71 is simply choosing careers with gaurunteed money and prestige. If so, it is worth stepping off that treadmill to figure out what will really make you happy. I know very many unhappy weathly people who followed the numbers and wish they had chosen a career more suitable to their personality. While you tell yourself that you will put in your time at work and leave it behind you, unhappiness in the work place bleeds into every aspect of your family life especially where children and spouse are concerned. Look past the cash and figure out what will make you happy in

Take the time now to get experience in both fields. Many a soul has been turned off law by interning in a law firm. Many a soul has been turned off medicine by trailing a physician. Should you love either field, you will approach your goal with far greater resolve having tested the waters.

If I had not done this, I would currently be banging my head against the wall from 8-5 in the R&D sector of an engineering firm ( :barf: ) instead of preparing to enter medical school next fall.
 

japhy

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Perhaps, but the schools (both law and med) use the numbers (GPA and standardized test) as the primary factor in deciding admit people so there must be some correlation to success.
this simply is not true law2doc. i have multiple friends on adcoms at several differenct med schools. while numbers play a role in med school admissions, they are primarily used in deciding who to interview. after that they can be anywhere from 10-40% of the applications. hardly a deciding factor. they actually care about things like your letters of rec, volunteer and leadership experience, etc. in med school.

now law school is a different beast. nothing but number whores over on this side of the fence. :laugh: but yeah, overall, law schools probably have lower gpas then med schools. again, this doesn't mean much without context. i agree that thinking like a lawyer is a skill that is learned. and yes, some of the top students in law could do well in medicine, and vice versa.

i still maintain that most med students would do ok in law school, but not excel.
 

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There is one thing we can agree on.

Law school is a backup to medical school. Ask my college roommate.

Medical school is not a backup to law school.
(If you cannot get into law school, then you cannot get into medical school, but the opposite is true.)
 

Law2Doc

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OSUdoc08 said:
There is one thing we can agree on.

Law school is a backup to medical school. Ask my college roommate.

Medical school is not a backup to law school.
(If you cannot get into law school, then you cannot get into medical school, but the opposite is true.)

I thought DO school was a back up to med school. j/k :D
I agree that someone who is borderline for med school should have the stats to get into a decent law school and not vice versa. But I think if you are so totally indifferent about your future career, you need to take some time off and figure out what you want to do with your life. Law may be right for you or it might not be. They are very different paths and each choice only makes some of its devotees happy. And while, sure, you can do a lot of things with a law degree (think Geraldo Rivera :rolleyes: ), there are usually better routes to alternative careers.
 

OSUdoc08

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Law2Doc said:
I thought DO school was a back up to med school. j/k :D
I agree that someone who is borderline for med school should have the stats to get into a decent law school and not vice versa. But I think if you are so totally indifferent about your future career, you need to take some time off and figure out what you want to do with your life. Law may be right for you or it might not be. They are very different paths and each choice only makes some of its devotees happy. And while, sure, you can do a lot of things with a law degree (think Geraldo Rivera :rolleyes: ), there are usually better routes to alternative careers.
Unless you realize that it is med school. And yes, I know you were j/k.