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BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:58 am
by Michael
This is my first post to the forum, though I have been following for a couple of months.

I am currently working at a large Pharmaceutical company as a business development professional. Most of the deals I do are more research/strategic alliance focused.

My background includes an MS/MBA; 1 year at Big Pharma, 3 years experience in a technology transfer office, 1 year as a patent examiner, and 6 years in R&D.

I am very eager to work in a more entrapeneurial environment, such as a biotech company.

My questions are how is the current job market for someone with my background?

Would there be any advantage in pursuing a law degree? My current company is willing to pay for a part-time law degree. This would take an additional 4 years to complete.

Would the combination of business, science and law be valuable? What doors would it open up?

Thanks for any and all advice.

Michael Zaffron


BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:05 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hello Michael,

Nice to have you posting on our forum. Your success in the pharma company with a BS degree is somewhat unusual. I don't think that would have happened in a biotech environment, where everything in tech transfer and IP is done by PhD's.

I agree with you that some people just absolutely dry up in the bureaucracy of those large companies. Seeking a small company just makes good career sense for you, but you'll need to consider your options.

One of them -- not recommended -- is to get a PhD like everyone you will be competing with. That's a big waste at this point in your career. I'd say that the other option is to add a JD to your mix, and in that way, you could definitely get your foot in the door and rise up the ladder in the biotech environment.

But that takes a real commitment, of time and resources. So, why not start out with an aggressive campaign of networking to get yourself out there and interview in the biotech world? While what I said is likely true about your "competition" for those jobs, you may just be able to squeek past them with your hands-on experience from tech transfer and the patent office in particular.

We have a frequent poster friend, Chris, who I hope will add to your query,

Dave Jensen, Moderator

BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:54 pm
by Michael
Hi Dave,

Thanks for the response.

Actually I have an MS and a BS. The problem I have found is that there are so many people in my department, that it is hard to get noticed. Even if you do a good job, there is still a lot of politics.

How is the current job market? I would think that biotechs would want someone with Big Pharma business development experience. I have only been in Big Pharma for about a year. Would it look flakey to start looking for another job already? Will biotechs be able to match my salary or should I expect a significant reduction in pay? I turned down an offer from a biotech before I came to Big Pharma. The salary was 25% less and the benefits were not as good. I am now wondering if I missed my only chance at biotech.

Thanks,

Michael

BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:02 pm
by Dave Jensen
Michael,

i work in BD all the time. It is a very hot area, with a lot of hiring combined with very specific background requests for hired candidates. Generally, PhD/MBA's, but not all the time. While I think you'd do better in the biotechnology world because of your attitudes and the "fit", you may get caught with a glass ceiling.

Salaries at biotech companies are not as high as big pharma, as a general rule. We don't discuss salaries on this forum.

Yes -- anytime a person is at a job for only one year, that person will be grilled about the reasons for the move. If you get contacted by a recruiter for a position, that's OK because you "were recruited." If you start shopping on your own, it is more of an issue.

Dave

BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:51 am
by Michael
Hi Dave,

The picture you paint sounds like it is tough to get into biotech. I am now wondering if I passed up my only chance to work for a start-up.

I assumed the salaries would be lower in biotech but is a 25% difference realistic? What doors would a law degree open up? I would be close to 40 by the time I finished, is this too old to reap any benefits? Any other insights is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Michael

BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:55 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Michael,

The law degree would remove most traces of that "glass ceiling" that I mentioned. That's the only good it would do for you -- plus, it would give you the legal side for another career track inside a biotech firm. You could start in IP and find yourself VP and Chief Counsel at some point down the road. People move up quickly in the biotech industry.

The compensation in biotechnology is just different, that's all. Your salary would likely be lower, but you'd have the opportunity to participate in stock options that COULD make more in the long run than the difference in salary. There are regular performance bonuses paid in stock, etc. In short, you aren't comparing apples with apples, and there is no flat % that I can give you about salary differences. You may be able to make a lateral move, which would be fine for someone who truly wants to be in biotechnology.

Good luck, Michael!

Dave Jensen, Moderator

BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 9:43 pm
by Chris Buntel
Michael:

A law degree could get you into an IP department, or a general corporate legal role. Your BD background combined with a law degree could make you valuable for drafting and reviewing licensing contracts, and performing due diligence for mergers & acquisitions.

Of course, most in-house counsel work at large corporations. Small startups usually have few or no attorneys. Keep this in mind if you want to escape large corporate life.

The 3-4 years to obtain a law degree is a big investment of time and effort. Do a lot of networking with attorneys to make sure that it is what you want to do.

Chris Buntel.

BD + Law Degree?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 2:01 am
by Cherie
The job market for new JD/PhDs with no legal experience is starting to show some strain. It could change in the future, but there are a lot of PhDs going to law school, making it more difficult for Masters-level + JDs to get work, at least with law firms. It will also make it tough to get in-house jobs as there are many more PhD/JDs out there competing for the same jobs. If you do decide to go to law school, make sure you get or have patent agent experience while you are going to law school. In the current job market, experience counts!
Best of luck to you.