Do I want to interrupt an engineering career to do patent law?
June 3, 2015 10:36 PM   Subscribe

I’m trying to determine if it’s worth it to plan a career change from engineering to patent law, with a lengthy, difficult, expensive stop through law school first. Have you done this? Do you have special insight?

Obviously, there's a lot to my question.

Some background: I have a decent mechanical engineering career in civil service. I have great benefits, stability, some flexibility, and decent pay. My work has upward potential, but its mega-competitive. Any promotion would come with an okay (not great) bump in pay, but great increases in responsibilities, work, meetings, and dealing with HR stuff (hiring, coaching, budgeting, administrative). That doesn't seem appealing to me personally, and I'm afraid of stagnating. Sure, I could spend my whole career in one place doing the same job, but that doesn’t sound fun or fulfilling (though it sounds better than promoting). I'm at the bottom of a big totem pole, but it's a pretty good one. Our turnover is probably the lowest in the industry because people rarely leave (civil service).

Lately, I got to thinking about patent law. I'm an engineer, so I have the technical background (through education, licensure, and experience). I like the idea of the flexibility, potentially higher pay, and still using some of my technical knowledge.

So law school? New career? It's not so easy to answer: I have a small child, two dogs needy for attention, house payment, car payments--you know, average financial responsibilities (but no existing student loan debt). I cannot and will not leave or quit my engineering job to study law. My wife's and child's happiness is my primary concern. I would expect us to make sacrifices, but don't want to ruin my marriage or mangle my daughter's childhood to make this happen.

Note, also, that I'm not interested in being a patent agent or making a career change within engineering.

So my questions are many, and I appreciate any feedback and opinions. If you want to say, "Dude, just forget it. Don't do it," I want to hear it.
1) How many hours of study should I expect for each hour of class? Is there a rule of thumb?
2) Is studying for law easier than studying engineering? Is it similar?
3) Is it possible for the average person to work full-time (a typical 40 hour work week) and attend law school part-time or in the evening?
4) Would it be financially worth it? What would it take to be financially worth it? I'm looking for data, perhaps facts and numbers--not, "You have to ask yourself if it's financially worth it."
5) What's the best way to find a local patent attorney (in the Los Angeles-area) willing to speak with me about all this?
6) Is there an age or milestone in life when it's too late to build a successful legal career?
7) Do patent attorneys actually enjoy fairly flexible work schedules?
8) What's the most time-consuming aspect of law school?
9) Am I high? Should I be?
posted by rybreadmed to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would start by assuming that it is possible to attend law school on the evenings and that the numbers work out. And then I would ask myself whether I would rather dedicate years of my evenings to spending time with my wife and child, or to spending that time on another career. Law school is three years if you go full time. That's a lot of evenings to be missing in the life of a child.

It probably is not a sacrifice that I would be willing to make. I would look into other changes in life outside of work that met my need for growth and challenge.
posted by aniola at 10:59 PM on June 3, 2015


Part-time law programs exist, but not nearly all law schools offer one. You, on the other hand, have a job that you're not willing to leave, and therefore presumably can't move to another city. Therefore, the very first step is to check that there is a part-time law program that is physically accessible to you. It's very possible that no such program exists. If there is one, one the other hand, then you should be making this decision in the context of that specific program - its specific schedule, academic strength, program requirements, etc.
posted by kickingtheground at 11:12 PM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: There are part-time evening programs nearby here in Los Angeles. There are two different universities with part-time programs only about ten to fifteen minutes from my office. There are other part-time programs, but are a bit too far out of the way to make the commute realistic.
posted by rybreadmed at 11:18 PM on June 3, 2015


Start where kickingtheground suggests. That will make the problem much simpler. It looks to me like you have maybe 1, 1.5 choices at most for part-time programs in the Los Angeles area. There's Loyola, and then there's Southwestern Law School, which I've never heard of.

Loyola overall (not just their night program) ranks 75th nationwide, though I don't know what it's rep is in Los Angeles. Southwestern has no overall ranking, meaning it falls into the bottom 25% of law schools in the country. There's no way on earth I'd go to a school like that.

Frankly, there's no way I'd go to law school at all, but your question, given your engineering background, is perhaps the first I've ever seen on MetaFilter where I didn't immediately say, "Hell no, don't go." So basically, you have to decide whether you can live with Loyola before you even get to the other questions. That sounds like a very expensive way to get a degree from a weak school, but at least start there.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:25 PM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I was an IP attorney in the LA Metro area (I'm now in-house doing general transactional work and am much happier) and would be more than happy to chat with you. Send me a MeMail and we can find some time to connect.

Generally, is it a fantastic idea? No. Is it a terrible idea, in your position, no. It would depend on what your engineering background is, what sort of firm you'd be interested in working in, what sort of test scores you get, and what the opportunity cost would be for you to go. UCLA and USC do not offer part-time programs, so you'd either have to quit your job or attend a part-time program. That leaves Loyola, Pepperdine, or Southwestern if you want to stay local to LA. Depending on where you work you might be able to commute to Chapman for their part-time program. Not all of the part-time programs include evening classes - so even a part-time program may interfere with your work schedule.
posted by Arbac at 12:43 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm an attorney. I am not qualified to do patent work, so I can't comment on that field in specific. I went to a top 20 law school, have six figures of debt, and many of my classmates have had to leave the field of law because the job market is terrible. If your primary concern is being a good parent and partner while already having a full time job, I do not think law school is a good idea. My general advice for anyone thinking about law school is that if you can be happy without it, don't go.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:48 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Best answer: I'm not an engineer, but I'm near the end of my law degree which I've done part-time (nights and the occasional Saturday) while working a full time public service job. I should note that I'm just finishing it up after deciding not to practice, so I put in less effort than you would probably want to.

1) My university suggests that, as a rule, you would do two to three hours of reading and preparation per hour of class time. I usually have about six hours of classes per week, so that'd be 12-18 hours of study per week. I have never done anything like this amount, and I doubt most of the others in my evening classes do more than a few hours per week either. But if you did want to do well, you could be looking at a 64 hour week of work and study.

3) I don't know about the average person, but I know people doing it. My work weeks are 35 hours and my employer provides study leave. My advantages are that I don't have kids and I'm not aiming that high in terms of marks. I don't have much time to spend on personal projects, reading, cooking and housework, and I spend less time with my husband, family and friends than I'd like. I'm a lot more stressed than I would be if I were just working full-time. I'm only aware of a few students in my course with young children, and from memory they have nearly all been men with wives who take care of the kids full-time.

4) If I were weighing up the financial viability of going into law, I'd look at how much the course would cost me, how much I could hope to make upon graduation, and how long until I was making as much (or more) than I am now. Employment prospects for legal grads are pretty terrible in many areas, so consider your prospects carefully. Also look into whether admission would require you to undertake placements - here, you'd need 80 days of practical experience at a law firm and it's nearly always unpaid.

A part-time law degree takes about five years, and your life is likely to look a lot different before you've finished it. Stagnating for a few years in a stable job with great benefits sounds like a pretty good problem to have while you have a young child.
posted by escapepod at 6:06 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


All the patent attorneys I know work very hard. Some of them have more specific flexibility than others -- like, picking up and leaving early on a given day to take their dog to the vet -- but they're certainly not exempt from all the law firm pressures of billing hours, face time and everything else.

Look, your job prospects are going to be a lot better than graduates who don't have technical degrees and experience and aren't candidates to be patent attorneys. And your law school grades aren't quite as important. But your employment prospects still depend on what school you go to, how well you do, and how good your pre-law school qualifications are.

But more importantly, this doesn't change most of the basic realities that law school is a lot of work and occupies a lot of your time (especially if you're going at night and on the weekends and working full-time, too!), and it doesn't change any of the basic realities of being a lawyer. You're going to face huge pressure to work long hours and to be on call to drop your life on the whim of someone more senior than you who has something that they're acting like is urgent. And if you want to continue to advance, and become a senior associate, and a junior partner, and a senior partner, these pressure and your commitment don't decrease -- they increase. You're going to have to bust your ass and keep busting your ass, and this is going to require sacrifices of family and personal time, and continuing to move up is still going to be competitive as hell.

Whether it's financially worth it is not a question people can answer here. Part of that depends on how risk-averse you are. But the biggest part of it depends on your expected salary as an attorney compared to your current salary, and you have not told us how much you make.

You should absolutely explore your idea to talk to as many local attorneys as you can. Try finding someone who is in your alumni network and inviting them to coffee. Also read everything you can on the internet and maybe get a book or two. You seem to have no idea of what it's like to be a lawyer, whether you practice patent prosecution or IP litigation anything else, and you can't make this choice at any level without becoming super informed about what the work and your life will be like as a lawyer. FWIW, though, "fulfilling" is not how the patent prosecution or IP people I know tend to describe their work, except perhaps with regard to the salary.

Frankly, I don't think you should do this. But if you want to explore it, take the LSAT. If you get a high enough score to get a full tuition scholarship to Loyola, that changes the calculations a little -- at least from a financial perspective. Again, find out everything you can about what it's like to be a lawyer and a law student. And keep in mind that part-time law school is actually like 3/4 time, so if you're working 40 hours, and then spending another 9-10 hours in class, and another 15-20 hours studying, that's like 70 hours a week -- for FOUR YEARS. If you really, really want to be a lawyer after learning much more than you know now, I suggest finding a way to make it work to go full-time and dropping your job.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:27 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am an attorney and registered to practice before the Patent Office.

Were I you, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't do it. The job market is still terrible, and it's the height of folly to pay for law school, especially at a school that is less than high-end. In addition to the obvious direct cost, if you're not receiving a full merit scholarship, then you're probably not going to be at the top of your class, and class rank / GPA is a huge determiner of whether you'll get job interviews. Law school is a "the rich get richer, the poor get poorer" game.

You may be tempted to think that having an engineering background will make it easier to find a job. This is not true. While relatively few attorneys have technical backgrounds, there are also relatively few patent law jobs that require technical backgrounds. You're competing with a smaller group, but you're competing for a smaller set of jobs.

Would it be financially worth it? What would it take to be financially worth it? I'm looking for data, perhaps facts and numbers--not, "You have to ask yourself if it's financially worth it."

Almost certainly not, unless you can get a full scholarship, and even then you have to figure in the opportunity cost of years of investment in a degree you may never use. Indeed, having an unused law degree can be a weird black mark on your resume.

You asked for facts and numbers:
to make a positive return on the investment of going to law school, given the current costs, the average law student must earn an average annual salary of at least $65,315. As the data above show, however, over 40% of law school graduates have starting salaries below this threshold.
That's from a 2009 American Bar Association study. Things have gotten much, much worse since then as the cost of law school has relentlessly increased while the financial prospects for law school graduates have worsened. Today, about 50% of law school graduates have starting salaries below that $65k threshold, while tuition and debt loads have increased.

Do patent attorneys actually enjoy fairly flexible work schedules?

No. Patent prosecution and litigation are both deadline-oriented, "hurry up and wait" jobs that involve spending a lot of time waiting for other people (clients, the Patent Office, judges, opposing parties) and being primed to move very quickly in response, often with little warning and short deadlines.

If you really want to get a taste for the market and the work, just take the Patent Office Registration Examination (aka the patent bar), which will make you a patent agent. See if you can get a job as a patent agent in LA. Some firms will even pay for their patent agents to attend law school.
posted by jedicus at 7:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hello, me from about five years ago! I was wondering when you'd show up.

My background sounds exactly like yours, except private firm. One of my long term plans had included patent law, so I started looking into it. I decided against it because of the sheer volume of work in law school plus full time job, the amount of debt I'd accumulate, the dodgy job market (employment statistics as posted by schools apparently include newly minted lawyers working at Starbucks), and the likelihood that I'd wind up working 50-60 hour weeks once this was all done, probably for about the same amount of money I'm making now.

So I said HELL NO. I kept training for triathlons, kept working in my dead end job, leaving at 4:30, and spending several hours each night with my wife and (now 8-y.o.) kids. My weekends have been free to do whatever we want, my life is just generally mine. If I'd started law school in 2011, I'd probably be graduating now, and walking into not just a new career, but a new working lifestyle. I'd have to give up actual triathlon training, I'd be bringing work home, and my life would shrink to Work plus whatever time I had left over for the family. And that just wasn't going to work for me.

I did start working on an MBA this past year, in part because I know I can't plan on being in my current position/company for the rest of my career, and I don't want to be a 55-y.o. engineer with a defunct skill set and no backup. With the MBA, I think I'll be able to make a much easier transition to a management career, which also opens up my job prospects beyond aerospace manufacturing. Plus the homework is almost laughably easy compared to what I had to do for my MSME, and my company's picking up the tab. So right now the only time I don't see the family is when I'm actively in class. And I know an MBA is pretty much a cliche now, but I'm actually learning about business. Lots of stuff I picked up working for businesses, but also things I hadn't consciously considered, and some things I'd never even thought about before.

Good luck with your search, and if you choose the other path, kick some serious ass, and drop me a line someday and let me know how it worked out for you.
posted by disconnect at 7:42 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who went from software engineering into IP law. He works at a big corporate law firm and makes lots of money. But, he made the transition in his 20s, with no children, and he quit his job to go to law school full-time. He also went to top-tier schools for both undergrad and law school.

The payoff seems to be, he makes very good money, has the potential to make ungodly reams of money, and he appears to find the work intellectually engaging. But he works a lot. Sometimes I'll meet him for drinks on a Friday evening and probably more than half the time he has to go back to the office afterward. I met some of his colleagues recently and they told stories about pulling 36 hours straight at the office, catching sleep on sofas, or a senior associate who had to bring his laptop to work from the delivery room while his wife was having a baby.

I don't know if these stories are exaggerated, but they do fit in with what I've heard about the culture at BigLaw. And if you're not working at BigLaw, you're probably not making enough money to pay back your student loans within a reasonable timeframe. And if you want to move up at BigLaw - well, this is the kind of stuff you have to do. And this is the payoff - the payoff in the best-case scenario - you get after pulling 70-hour weeks, busting your ass in law school while you work full-time and support a young family.

If I were you, I wouldn't do it.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:51 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


So law school? New career? It's not so easy to answer: I have a small child, two dogs needy for attention, house payment, car payments--you know, average financial responsibilities (but no existing student loan debt). I cannot and will not leave or quit my engineering job to study law. My wife's and child's happiness is my primary concern.

It's actually easy to answer. Given what you said in that paragraph, don't do it. I can address some of your specific questions (and one thing you didn't ask about but should).

Is it worth it: Are you financing it? You're looking at ~$200k in total debt if it takes you five years. Then you pay interest. Layola claims its average grad make $75k a year to start. This is a lie (None of its grads with shitty jobs report their income because its embarassing and the school doesn't seek them out. But the school knows everyone who got a good job and makes sure to find them). But even pretending it isn't, take your current salary, subtract it from $75k and figure out how long it takes to pay off $200k with the difference. That's your best case scenerio. Now do the same with a more realistic salary of $55-60K. This ties in to "When am I too old?" How old will you be when you start to enjoy the extra money you're making? Is that too old? Also think about how many hours you work for today's salary vs how many you'll have to work for your future legal salary.

Law vs. Engineering: I've only studied one (law), but the engineers I studied with and the lawyers I know with undergrad engineering degrees were served pretty well by the background. Also, engineering is a hell of a lot harder than political science so they're probably better prepared for academic challenges than most law students.

Most time consusming aspect of law school: Being good at it. You can get through law school with minimal effort, honestly. I used to say that the only thing harder than getting in to law school was getting kicked out. So many law schools are essentially open-enrolment these days (doubly so for part time programs) that this isn't really true anymore. But if you want to be good at it, to have the grades, and write law review, and get the recommendations that make law school worthwhile, everything is hard because you are competing. It's not just "get this score for an A." It's "Be better than everyone else for an A." Again, engineering school may have prepared you for this.

Part-time: This has come up on AskMe recently and I'll tell you the same thing I said then. Part time is a scarlet P on your resume. Part time students do not caluclate in to the US News rankings. Thus, schools offer part time programs to students who would not be admitted if their LSAT/GPA was going to be calcualted into their ranking (they still want the money). As a result, part time students are largely considered "junior varsity." Sure, a lot of great students go part time for whatever reason. But you've got an extra hurdle to clear if you attend part time. Its tricky enough getting a job that makes law school worth the time and expense without the red flag to employers.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:01 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


My husband and I both went to law school on full academic scholarships (T1 state school for him, T3 religious school for me) and our answer to this question is a resounding no for 99% of the people we meet. Being a lawyer isn't flexible and doesn't necessarily have higher pay, and the lifestyle sucks. It absolutely sucks. I work for the government and he's a solo, so we have a better work-life balance than BigLaw, but it still sucks. That said, to answer your actual questions:

1) How many hours of study should I expect for each hour of class? Is there a rule of thumb?
Law school is fairly easy once you're in if you aren't gunning for a firm. I treated it like a full time job, so I'd go to class and study from 8-5 every day and then be done with it. By 3L year, I treated it like a part time job.
2) Is studying for law easier than studying engineering? Is it similar?
I spent two years of college as an engineering student (made it through Calc 3, Java programming, O-chem) and I thought law school was easier to grasp by far.
3) Is it possible for the average person to work full-time (a typical 40 hour work week) and attend law school part-time or in the evening?
Possible, yes, but probably not a good idea.
4) Would it be financially worth it? What would it take to be financially worth it? I'm looking for data, perhaps facts and numbers--not, "You have to ask yourself if it's financially worth it."
What do you earn now? What will you borrow for law school? This was addressed well up-thread.
9) Am I high? Should I be?
Yes. Last night when I saw your question I just wanted to answer it with no no don't go to law school no..

You say your primary concern is for your wife and child. Being married to a lawyer is terrible. As a lawyer married to another lawyer, do not go. I love my husband and we have a good marriage, but lawyers are fundamentally bad spouses. She'll be much happier with an engineer.
posted by notjustthefish at 8:17 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


My sister was an chemist with an MA. About 10 years into a so-so career, she went to law school. She was able to shift out of the lab, and into patent work, first with a drug company, then in an academic setting. For her, it worked out.

It was long before the recent crunch in the law job market though. (There have been hints that the crunch is easing slightly, mostly due to marginal candidates being discouraged from going to law school, I think.)
posted by SemiSalt at 11:44 AM on June 4, 2015


Best answer: I did exactly this. And I'm currently at work (in my new chosen field) and I don't have time to read through all of the answers you've been given but I'll just give you my quick one off ones. Please feel free to memail me and we can discuss my journey in more detail.

1) How many hours of study should I expect for each hour of class? Is there a rule of thumb?
Rule of thumb is 1-2 hours of studying for every hour in class. First year is the hardest.

2) Is studying for law easier than studying engineering? Is it similar?
It's different. You'll need to learn legal reasoning and writing which I promise will be so much different than any type of logic or writing class you might have had in a technical context. Most engineers struggle with the sheer amount of reading.

3) Is it possible for the average person to work full-time (a typical 40 hour work week) and attend law school part-time or in the evening?
I did this. You need to find a law school that offers part time programs. Caveat though: These usually tend not to be the top ranked schools in a jurisdiction (unless you're talking Georgetown). Reverse caveat: the local IP law firms are probably used to hiring part-timers because why would a scientist or engineer go to law school full-time?

4) Would it be financially worth it? What would it take to be financially worth it? I'm looking for data, perhaps facts and numbers--not, "You have to ask yourself if it's financially worth it."
For patent attorneys at midsize firms, first year salaries that I've seen have ranged from $80k-$120k. If you can hit biglaw in a $$ market, maybe you can still hit the $140k-$160k range but those are the lottery ticket type jobs that will require you to have an in at a firm, or be in the top 10% of your class after first year, so that you can summer at the fancy firm and have them hire you. Since you want to keep working full time as an engineer (a smart decision IMHO), you probably won't be available to summer, unless your company has a really generous educational leave of absence program (some do). So, assume you're going to be making $100k-$120k per year as a lawyer (this is an unreasonable assumption for most people entering law school, but as a patent attorney, you're not playing in the same market, so things are better: assuming that you find a job -- also easier to do with that fancy USPTO registration #). This is probably a jump in salary for you, but possibly not a HUGE jump. So, given the cost of tuition, it might take years or decades for law school to "pay off" in terms of a higher salary. Or, you might ace the LSAT and get a really good scholarship (which makes the money calculation much easier).


5) What's the best way to find a local patent attorney (in the Los Angeles-area) willing to speak with me about all this?

Go to an LAIPLA event. Go to a few if you can (especially the social/happy hour type ones). Also look and see if there are any AIPLA events happening in your area.

6) Is there an age or milestone in life when it's too late to build a successful legal career?
I was at an event last week with a respected judge who didn't go to law school until she was 42. There was a 56 year old in my law school graduation class.

7) Do patent attorneys actually enjoy fairly flexible work schedules?
In prosecution, at a mid size firm, yes. In litigation, not really. In biglaw, it depends.

8) What's the most time-consuming aspect of law school?
Briefing cases. Outlining for finals.

9) Am I high? Should I be?
Obviously, things worked out really well for me so you're not trying to do the impossible. But it won't necessarily be easy. Do whatever you can now to try to position yourself for a job when you finish. Can you take the patent bar now (but remember that nothing about the patent bar is remotely similar to law school, the LSAT, or the bar exam)?

Here is an idea that I really think you should consider. It's a big one (involves changing coasts) but could work out for you since you're already in civil service. Apply for a job as a patent examiner. The patent examiners who work at the USPTO have to be engineers and scientists, but not necessarily lawyers. They make kind of crappy money ($50-60kish to start), but there is some kind of discounted tuition deal at Georgetown I'm pretty sure. Lots of examiners go to law school part time, and then end up getting super duper cushy jobs when they are done (firms love to hire ex-examiners). (oh and hey it looks like I lied about you needing to switch coasts)
posted by sparklemotion at 11:52 AM on June 4, 2015


It is prohibitively unlikely you will be able to launch a patent career as CivE going to an LA night school. An EECS PhD or an MD or PhD coming from the lab or biz dev department of a major pharma or biotech might be able to do it.
posted by MattD at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2015


I'm a mechanical engineer that went to law school. Much of what I want to say (DON'T DO IT) is said above, so I'll summarize:

tl;dr - Being a lawyer is kinda crappy. Unless you have all the money and enjoy not seeing your family and friends, don't do it.

Unless you (a) have a job lined up with a guaranteed salary that lets you pay off your student loans in say five years and (b) can attend a top X (15, 20, 25 max) school, don't do it. ABA accredited law schools graduate more larval lawyers every year than the number of new legal jobs projected for the next decade. Jobs are getting scarcer, not more abundant.

I went to a top 20 school and at graduation, less than half my class had a job. I got lucky, but the legal market is consolidating and clients have become very cost-sensitive. After 4 years, I couldn't take the bullshit anymore and switched back out of law. Quality of life is now much improved.

specific responses:

1) How many hours of study should I expect for each hour of class? Is there a rule of thumb? Going to law school is basically a full-time job for three years. Spread that out over 5-6 years of nights and weekends.

2) Is studying for law easier than studying engineering? Is it similar? Similar, in terms of sheer brain power, but so much more reading, and almost no math.

3) Is it possible for the average person to work full-time (a typical 40 hour work week) and attend law school part-time or in the evening? Technically, yes; realistically, no.

4) Would it be financially worth it? What would it take to be financially worth it? I'm looking for data, perhaps facts and numbers--not, "You have to ask yourself if it's financially worth it." Probably not. You're loosing the time in law school (when you could be earning) and taking on a metric crap ton of debt, with no guarantee you'll get a six figure salary at the other end. Especially considering you'll be attending a night program and are an ME (not BioMed, Pharm, or EE/CS), you're unlikely to be hired by the major firms where you can make the kind of money that will make it worth it.

5) What's the best way to find a local patent attorney (in the Los Angeles-area) willing to speak with me about all this? See previous posts with offers.

6) Is there an age or milestone in life when it's too late to build a successful legal career? I graduated at thirty, my father-in-law was in his late 30s or early 40s. Wouldn't really want to leave it later than that, see metric crap ton of debt to service and general shitty-ness of early career. You're willing to put up with a lot more "this sucks now but will be worth it later" in your 20s than your 40s.

7) Do patent attorneys actually enjoy fairly flexible work schedules? See previous post. Lawyer's hours in general are grueling. Say you have to bill 2000 hours a year (typically 1750-2200, depending on the firm and field). That's the same as a regular job, you say? Except you'll be working significantly more than that, because you can't bill every waking hour (in 0.1 hour increments). You'll have coffee/cigarette/bathroom breaks, your lunches don't count, continuing legal education, admin and billing time, and plenty of hurry up and wait on a client to get their act together. Sadly, "held self ready to respond to client inquiry" is not an acceptable billing description. 10 hour days are considered minimum standard at my old firm

8) What's the most time-consuming aspect of law school? All of it.

9) Am I high? Should I be? Yes. Won't help.

Sorry for the wall of text, you may have hit a nerve
posted by yggdrasil at 12:01 PM on June 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


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