Medical School vs. Law School

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Goobster20, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. Goobster20

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    Similar to a recent poster, I'm having a hard time deciding between law school and medical school.

    In short, I am in my mid 20's and a survivor of childhood cancer. During my undergrad, I majored in bio and biostatistics, finished with a 3.1, and gained extensive research experience at a major local children's hospital. I attended grad school to boost my med app but only finished 1 year of a 2 year program (the program really was not a good fit as I was not at all comfortable with the people, the program, and the location).

    After withdrawing from the grad program, I definitely felt that I took myself out of the running for medical school. I'm now working as a paralegal at an IP firm that absolultely values my work and contributions; I have been pretty much told that there will be a job for me should I decide to go to law school. Most likely I would stick with IP since my background is in science.

    However, recently some of my family members have had recent stays at the hospital that have made me rethink my decision to abandon medicine. Sitting in the surgery waiting room, I witnessed the inherently good nature of the medical profession -- the interaction with patients and being able to treat and comfort them and their families. I felt there was an unmatched value present in the medical profession that just doesn't exist in the legal field, or any other field for that matter. (Not to mention that there were many people that came up to me and said I that have the right demeanor to enter medicine - that I'm observant, compassionate, and methodical.)

    Being that I am in my mid-20's and time isn't slowing down any, I am trying to reach a decision on my future. My heart says to persevere and go after medicine, while my mind says that a rational choice would be to go into law. If anyone has any advice I am all ears.
     
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  3. Ginzo

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    I don't have much to say other than you're going to have a big climb to get accepted to medical school. Your undergrad GPA combined with the fact that you dropped out of grad school means you're going to have to play catch up in academics in a big way. Only you can decide if it's worth jumping through all the poodle hoops.
     
  4. Gavanshir

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    i think your SDN post count will definitely hold you back from entry to medschool. ;)
     
  5. DrJD

    DrJD Junior Member

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    Hey there,

    I know that this is a really hard decision. I struggled with a similar situation and actually started law school(did the first year)! I had intended to earn my JD/MD but decided once I was in law school that it just wasn't for me... I would rather just earn my MD and focus on medicine then try and straddle both...

    The previous poster was right, with your undergrad gpa it will definitely be tough, but not impossible... If you have any questions feel free to PM me... But if you do decide to go with IP law, and your undergrad was in Bio you'll probably need a masters anyway... So personally I think the best decision would be to work hard and get into an SMP program... Then you can earn the masters to bolster your GPA, and then if you do decide that you'd rather do IP law then you have the masters... I know that for engineers a masters isn't really necessary to do IP law, but with a bio/chem background it probably is...

    So that is my suggestion!
     
  6. Gavanshir

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    There are at least two very good threads were previous law students and lawyers (Law2Doc) who have made the switch to medicine give some very good insight to answer your questions. I strongly suggest digging them up!
     
  7. DaTruMD

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    Go to law school or go into politics. You can potentially do more good there than in medicine. Plus, it seems you're in an upward battle so only do it if you are 100% committed.:)
     
  8. searun

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    I recommend that you choose law school. You could spend several years and many thousands of dollars and very likely find yourself on the outside looking in at med school. Your gpa is pretty low but there are a number of third tier law schools that would accept you if your LSAT score is reasonably good. And if you have a job waiting for you at your present law firm, it does not matter if you cannot get accepted to Yale Law School.
     
    #7 searun, Jun 6, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2008
  9. AquaDoc

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    My experience is similar to yours and quite different at the same time. I attended law school after undergrad and went to work for an IP firm doing litigation (one of the few departments that usually doesn't require a masters +). From my experience, as well as that of some of my friends, IP firms are some of the best to work for in terms of hours and collegiality. That said, I was never able to see law as being something I could spend the rest of my life doing.

    I made a tough choice in abandoning the law since I was making a great salary for the first time in my life. So, like you, my head knew the logical thing to do would be to stick with law, but my heart had other plans. I'm still waiting to hear if I got into med school, and it hasn't been the easiest process. I was offered a full scholarship to attend law school, but I'm on my second year of applying for med school. The standards are just much higher and there are so many hoops to jump through that it's very easy to get discouraged. Your GPA will be an issue, as well as not finishing your grad program. You may want to go back and take classes at a local community college to bolster the GPA, although a stellar MCAT score can help too. Your research experience and work at the children's hospital will be definite pluses however, especially when it comes time for essay writing.

    Expect a lot of tough questions during the interview process about your decision to switch careers. Admissions committees are not fond of people they perceive to be dilettantes or degree collectors. Not that you sound like one, but that seems to be the impression some of my interviewers seem to have had about me. And although it sounds like you've done a lot of soul searching, be ready to offer up a cogent sound bite about your decision. That said, ultimately, the choice is only yours to make and only you can know what makes you truly happy. My final suggestion would be to have some informational interviews with attorneys and get some shadowing experience with doctors to see how others in those professions enjoy their careers. Good luck!
     
  10. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Sounds like you might have the demeanor for criminal law too, particularly as a public defender. One of my dear friends (son and son-in-law of physicians) did this and is now on the bench. You couldn't find a more compassionate man, particularly when he was representing criminals in pre-sentencing hearings.
     
    #9 LizzyM, Jun 6, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2008
  11. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member

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    Take the path of least resistance, here being law.
     
  12. MLT2MT2DO

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    Can I just chime in with "I don't get the Med school vs Law school posts".

    I do not really see the parellels other than the way there are particular schools for each and the 6 figure salaries.

    I am a die hard fan of medicine and not so much of law, so I'm probably quite biased. Could someone please explain why there are so many of these posts?
     
  13. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Because physician and lawyer are two of the three classic "professions" with the third being cleric.
     
  14. Goobster20

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    Thanks to all those that have posted.

    My dream has always been to be a doctor, particularly a pediatric oncologist. Now that I am older and am ready to dedicate myself to this dream, I'm only hoping that my immature days of college won't continue to haunt me. Obviously my undergraduate GPA is a concern. Can I remedy this by taking most of the science pre-reqs over? Coupling a stellar performance in these retakes with a some pretty good grades from my grad experience I would like to think that this might mean something to medical school admissions officers. Or am I wrong in this thinking?
     
  15. nu2004

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    killing the LSAT would pretty much guarantee a spot at better than a third-tier school. law schools are not as focused on grades as med schools are, and if he could spin his other significant achievements in a way that could make him sound like a good candidate for law, he could potentially get in to a top 50 school.

    i'll second the "i don't get the law school v. med school threads" sentiment. if you have to ask, you should probably be going to law school. it's a far better ROI.
     
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  17. Chocolate Bear

    Chocolate Bear Moderizzle Fo'Shizzle!
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    Well they're obviously two well-respected career paths that afford a high level (arguably) of job/financial security, autonomy, and professional responsibility. Although they are very different subjects, one can develop an interest in either law or medicine without being overwhelmingly drawn toward the traditional background of either government or biology, respectively. Since the OP has exposure to both professions, while also possessing potential hurdles (in their med school application or their future personal satisfaction in law), it's understandable for he/she to be torn.
     
  18. Chocolate Bear

    Chocolate Bear Moderizzle Fo'Shizzle!
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    You are correct. A lot of make-up work spent replacing grades, taking upper level sciences, and crushing the MCAT would take you a long way toward med school.
     
  19. nu2004

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    i think this is good perspective, but what previous posters have been getting at, i think, is that it is hard to lend credibility to a question such as the OP's. why? because if you think that you're interested in a profession, you should be out learning about it, not soliciting the views of people who aren't physicians (and most of whom aren't even in medical school).

    note that there is not a whole lot of "attorney shadowing" that goes on, at least not for the purposes of admission to law school. entering medicine is a difficult and personal decision for many, you have that right. but come on - if you are trying to make that decision, at least make the effort to peek into the profession far enough to know if it's really for you. don't let other inexperienced people "sell" you on a career.
     
  20. Chocolate Bear

    Chocolate Bear Moderizzle Fo'Shizzle!
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    I agree completely. I'm certainly not sticking up for anyone too lazy to research their own potential careers. However, the OP seems to have issues stemming from poor previous performance and more of an "Is it worth it/too late for me?" question, as opposed to a "Sell me on medicine over law" post.
     
  21. Goobster20

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    Choc Bear - I'm glad you understand my train of thought here.

    Believe me when I say I have done my fair share of researching the medical profession. I've done research with multiple medical doctors, volunteered at hospitals, and shadowed M.D.'s for over a year. I've hung out with many of them long enough to know about the rigors and lifestyle of the profession.

    As Choc Bear hit it spot on... I have a fundamental question about my situation: "If I go about to improve my science GPA by taking my pre-reqs over, is there still a shot for me."
     
  22. sunny1

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    I have absolutely no input on the legal path option since I am not familiar with that line of work.

    However, in terms of determining whether there is still a shot for you --You should sit down with a copy of your transcript and the MSAR. Download a sample GPA spreadsheet from SDN (you can find it by searching the threads). Open up Excel and play around with the numbers. See how many extra classes and what kind of grades you would need to raise your overall and BCPM (bio, chem, math, physics) GPAs to a decent level to be competitive for allopathic/MD schools that you are interested in.

    If you decide to retake some of your earlier prereq classes (either because you made below a C or because you need to refresh your knowledge in preparation for the MCAT), keep in mind that if you were to apply to DO/osteopathic schools as well that they will actually fully replace your old poor score for your better, new score - thereby bumping up your GPA even more quickly in their view. This doesn't hold for allopathic schools; it will take longer to improve your GPA for them.

    Your story as a childhood cancer survivor, former research experience, and paralegal work potentially make you an interesting candidate. With the appropriate language and reasoning, you can try to explain away the graduate program which you did not complete. While you are retaking or taking classes and studying for the MCAT, you would also want to consider an extracurricular activity such as volunteering or whatnot.

    I think you could do it; it would just take some time depending on what your GPA calculations tell you and how well you end up doing on the MCAT (a complete unknown at this point).
     
  23. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Being compassionate and methodical is important in all areas of law, not just criminal. Law, like medicine, is a personal service field where your job is to help people. Folks come to you because they want to protect themselves, or are entering into a transaction they don't fully understand, or want to comply with governmental regulations, or have been injured/wronged or sued. Your job, as a lawyer is to listen to them, to help protect their rights, to help accomplish their goals. As such you need many of the same assets in law as in medicine. So it's kind of silly to say, "I'm compassionate, obviously I have the right demeanor for medicine". Few fields can't use someone with positive assets as a demeanor. If, by contrast, your demeanor was negative, like you are a mean SOB, then that might dictate a different kind of field. But the positives generally can be used in any people oriented job.

    As a prior poster indicated, there have been several law school vs med school threads this past year, with fairly extensive responses (by me and others). I suggest you (OP) dig them up; all your questions will be answered.
     
  24. Raryn

    Raryn Infernal Internist / Enigmatic Endocrinologist
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    I agreee with LizzyM, the OP should become a priest.
     
  25. Character

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    these r really different. follow your heart. and love will bring you to the right choice
     
  26. atomi

    atomi Member

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    What happened to teacher and engineer/scientist?
     
  27. TheRealMD

    TheRealMD "The Mac Guy"

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    Teachers are now poor and engineers get worked to death.
     
  28. slabcat311

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    Do not spend your time going back and retaking your science classes and certainly do not do it at a community college if you already did poorly at the university level. Allopathic programs count all your classes against you. For example, if you take Bio get a C and retake it and get an A, both classes are still counted. If your intent on becoming a doctor I would suggest trying the Osteopathic route who are much more liberal in regards to GPA.
     
  29. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    We're talking about back in the day when the Lawyer knew Latin, the Physician ,Latin and Greek and the Cleric, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

    The three professions were given special rights by society and permitted to be self-regulating (determining who could enter the profession and with what credentials and who could be tossed out & on what grounds).
     
  30. Griidle

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    Law vs Med isn't a tough call. You can't possibly be indifferent between the two. Just consider what they both involve as careers (ignore education programs for a second and consider what you'd like to do for a career. . . read some of the prior posts by Law2Doc and the other members). These are entirely different paths. LizzyM mentioned that they are both 2 of the 3 classical professions (the third being the Church). If you want a very black/white analysis, consider the following question: sciences or humanities. Medicine is the scientific profession, law is the humanistic profession. Think of all the essays you've written and all of the bio tests you've studied for. Which one better suits you personally? You can be wildly successful (read big paycheck/fame) in either career; the question is which one suits you best.
     
  31. Asp

    Asp

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    Mind over heart. You should go to law school, since you are unlikely to get into med school.
     
  32. eternalrage

    eternalrage Even Kal has bad days...

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    Do you have any clinical volunteering experience? All the clinical stuff in this post of yours only has you being the patient or the patient's family. It's a lot different on the other side of the fence.

    Shadow a doc, shadow a lawyer, pick which one you like better.
     
  33. Asp

    Asp

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    Just don't shadow a primary care doc or a personal injury lawyer, or you might decide to become an accountant instead. Which by the way is not too bad a choice for someone in your shoes (derailed off the cushiest career tracks) -- that and actuarial science.
     
  34. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Disagree with this approach. You can often use more science in law than medicine (esp patent law) and will often be writing a whole lot more in medicine than law, so you are basing your analysis on flawed assumptions. Medicine and law are both personal service professions. Both are about people, not science or writing essays, so this is a really bad basis for deciding. Do as eternalrage and others suggested and shadow. You probably learn more about law than you'd ever want to know by working at a law firm one summer, and if you are interested in medicine you'll need the clinical exposure of volunteering/shadowing anyhow.

    Asp may have a point that the type of doctor/lawyer you shadow can affect your perspective as well, although I would still suggest that primary care is not a bad form of medicine to see because (1) you will get a ton of primary care exposure during the third and fourth year of med school, so if you dis/like it, it may suggest how your medical school experience is going to be, (2) a very large percentage of folks who go to med school end up in primary care fields, and (3) even if you are going into a competitive specialty most require a year of medicine as a preliminary (internship) year anyhow. I do agree that most lawyers are not personal injury types. I would suggest trying to get a job "helping out" at a general practice firm so you perhaps at least see what the lawyers seem to be doing all day -- you won't be doing anything important, but some firms hire college kids over breaks to be cheap labor to do scut. Although it might be hard to tell what lawyers do, because the good stuff is going to happen behind closed doors in the board room, during client meetings, on the phone, and for litigators, in court. But at least you'll get a sense of the pace, the hours, the function.
     
  35. jbrice1639

    jbrice1639 Cub Fan, Bud Man

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    i think plenty of other people have commented on the medicine vs law stuff, and really, you just have to figure out what appeals to you and go after it. but, as for the part of your post i quoted above, make sure you get that in WRITING before you spend a couple hundred thousand on law school - i know of at least three people who were "guaranteed" a job on graduation of law school, and not even one of them was actually offered the job. and, as you know, the legal profession is horribly overpopulated, so graduating law school does not guarantee a job by any means. on the other hand, there are more residency slots in the US than there are US med school grads every year...just something to think about.
     
  36. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Nah. I agree with you that this is likely a hollow promise. No lawfirm knows what their hiring needs are going to be three years from now, a lot depends on the economy, on hiring personnel staying the same, and on how you do in law school. So while they like you and it's easy to be magnanimous and say "there will be a place for you" in fact this is an unenforceable promise you can't bank on. But don't bother trying to get it in writing, that just isn't how things are done in this circumstance. And you may not even want that job over the other options you may have in a few years. You may find an interest in an area of law that firm doesn't practice, you may not want to go back to a firm where you are always going to be thought of by some as the paralegal (for this reason lots of job coaches suggest not going back to the same place where you served in a lower credentialed capacity).
    The one positive in this situation is that if this firm thought you were great, others probably will too.
     

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