Contemplating a JD

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Contemplating a JD

Postby James » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:07 am

Dear Forum,

I am currently working in a BD position at a Big Pharma. I already have an MS in molecular biology and an MBA. Now I am considering pursuing a JD. The company will pay for it, but they have emphasized that I should not expect an automatic promotion or a transfer to legal dept. If I start next fall I would be in my mid-30s and assuming I complete the degree in 4 years part-time, I would be close to 40 by the time I finish.

My questions, is this logical? Will I be too old once I finish to extract any value from the degree. I have always contemplated law, I just never wanted to incur the debt. Any advice or suggestions is greatly appreciated.



Contemplating a JD

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:55 pm

Hi james, I'll make sure to write one of my friends and a frequent poster about the JD. He'll jump in, I'm sure.

My feeling is that you should go for it if you've always liked the idea of a law degree. To have a major company pay for it is a BIG advantage. My uncle is a good example. For years, he worked at a low-to-mid job in the legal department of a major corporation. Then, he went to night school over a number of years and when he came out, it didn't take long. About a year later, he was working in a startup company; a year later, promoted to Senior VP and now he has retired on stock options. He was in his early 40's when he got his law degree.

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Contemplating a JD

Postby Chris Buntel » Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:59 pm


From your post, its not really clear why you even want to go to law school aside from the company is willing to pay for it. Law school, and especially part time school with a full time job is a huge personal undertaking.

Be sure to talk to lots of attorneys to make sure that you want to do what they do. Would you want to keep your current job, transfer to corporate legal, or work at a law firm? What kind of law -- IP, corporate, regulatory, employment? Lots of questions for you to consider before taking the leap.

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Contemplating a JD

Postby James » Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:45 pm

Hi Chris,

I would more than likely focus on corporate law. I would think that a law degree would open up doors that are currently not available. For example, the same track that Dave\'s uncle took is appealing. Also, once I get burnt-out in corporate america, I could run a tech-transfer office at a nice college town. How could the JD hurt other than the time committment? I already possess over a decade of real-world experience. Given the state of the pharmaceutical industry, I may need a back-up plan for my career. Let me know what you think.



Contemplating a JD

Postby Chris Buntel » Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:33 pm


The JD will not hurt, other than the time and effort involved. The immediate challenge will be making sure that you balance your efforts between work and school.

Going from business development to university tech transfer can make a lot of sense. Many companies also have in-licensing and out-licensing associates that combine BD and legal skills.

Chris Buntel

Contemplating a JD

Postby John Fetzer » Wed Nov 10, 2004 4:49 pm

I would say the first thing to do is look at how you think and do things.

Two fundamental differences between scientists and attorneys are:

Scientists deal in a world of varying shades of gray and probability. Attorneys deal in black and if and or buts. Any exceptions to the main black and white are defined by lesser black and white reasons.

Scientists are rather poor at written and verbal communications. Attorneys deal in all of the semantics and meanings of words. Grammar is an art and any nuances in meanings are very real and explicit. Cold, cool, tepid, warm, hot each mean something. Similar words to a scientist are not to an attorney.

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