Monday, January 6, 2014

JD-Disadvantage, Part III


Here we go again with the tired, worn-out "a JD is versatile" argument.  But economic pressure being what it is, the concept has its desperate defenders and, by extension, its earnest detractors whose mantle I proudly assume.  Without further ado:
 
In April of this year, Kaplan Test Prep did a survey of 200 pre-law students. Fifty percent of those students stated that they do not intend to use their future law degree in a traditional legal field. If this statistic extrapolates out to the larger law student population, we have a generation of law students of which only half will ever be practicing lawyers. So if half of law students do not intend on ever practicing law in a traditional way at a traditional firm—what is their intention?
 
News flash:  correlation is not causation.  The fact is that now, with access to actual law school employment-data-sans-spin, we see that 50% (at best) of law grads are going to "law firms."  That is the reality of the legal market, not the a priori effect of the pipe dreams of the lemmings contemplating law school.  (See, I went to law school, ergo I use terms like a priori.  And ergo.)  If only grads could actually manipulate the state of the market with the sheer force of their efforts and desires - there would be no scamblogs, I can guarantee you that.  And, with all due respect, what do 0Ls know about the legal market, anyway, except for those with inside information?
 
Interest in these jobs skyrocketed as the market fell, with more and more students seeking the J.D.-preferred positions when there were many less traditional positions available. In fact, in 2011, one in every seven jobs taken by new law graduates fell into the J.D. advantage category. (NALP Bulletin, May 2013).
 
As I have discussed before, 15% of your graduate pool going into a catch-all category does not scream resounding success or market demand for said catch-all category.  "Interest" increased due to the lack of jobs, folks.  Maybe I just have a funny way of looking at numbers, but if  "JD-Advantage" jobs were actually on par with "law firm" jobs then that might be interesting, as graduates would then be trading off costs and benefits between different career paths.  As it stands, at 50%, the preference is still lies heavily with "law firms," with government jobs and academic jobs coming in around 20% as well.  Some 75% of graduates are opting not to go the "JD Advantage" path, I wonder why... 
 
In my opinion, the category and even the term "J.D. advantage" is a bunch of rubbish.
 
Agreed.  For most, the "JD-Advantage" is the also-ran of law school outcomes.  It is the result of the actual legal market drying up, not the increased demand for people with legal training in traditionally non-legal fields.  I learned all this the hard way, trust me.
 
Therefore, all professional opportunities can and should be defined under "working" and not put under some other nomenclature of J.D. advantage. There are few professional pursuits that would not value the analytical thinking and knowledge of the law and ethics that law school offers. This new category describing any deviation from the traditional path is not required and seems to paint in broad strokes a picture of these jobs as "lesser." Jobs outside law firm associate positions are in no way less, and in some cases can offer much more.
 
Wait, what?  ALL professional opportunities should be in the "JD Advantage-working-catch-all-whatever-the-hell" category?  In other words, everything from a banker to a barista would benefit from a JD grad, and should be categorized as such by saying they are "working"?  O rly?  That accurate employment data is so tedious and boring, anyway; let's just call them all "working."
 
Another News Flash:  people go to law school to be lawyers, y'all.  For those poor dears who were unfortunate enough to not get into law school in the first place, they can console themselves with this thing called GRADUATE SCHOOL that fills the gap for those who are still looking for analytical thinking and knowledge skills.  Yep, those also-rans have to suffer through education in fields like accounting, architecture, construction management, computer science, medicine, business, engineering, history, mathematics, and language, to name a few.   How about other fields that require significant training all on their own, such as car mechanics, HVAC repair, plumbers, electricians, the various trades, etc.?  No analytical thinking skills or unique knowledge base there, nope, nor sir, sorry, not at all, according to law schools.  Next time you need your HVAC replaced, be sure to call your friendly neighborhood JD.
 
To put it another way - in my own experience, my flashing red neon JD letters did not exactly throw open the floodgates of opportunity.  There are many, many others who have had a similar experience.  Our would-be employers apparently just didn't get the memo on how awesome we all were.  We're JDs…!!!...why are you hiring other candidates when you could bask in the glow of an employee with a JD and mad analytical skillz!?!?!!  
 
So here is what we know—there are fewer jobs in traditional legal roles for entry-level attorneys.
 
Thank you for telling the truth, for once.  Now, wait for it, wait for it...Law Schools to the rescue!
 
Law schools have already begun a huge era of revitalization of legal education—some might say an overhaul. Some of these changes are meant to streamline legal education, others to provide more practical training. However, there is another factor that is changing law school: teaching to and preparing the ever-growing population of graduates that do not wish to practice in a traditional forum. Brooklyn Law School teaches a business boot camp and has a clinic that incubates new businesses in all facets, not just legal. There are other law schools that have language classes and compliance courses that are not rooted in the law.
 
The JD turned MBA.  Thanks, we already a degrees in business with a sprinkling of applicable laws.  They are called...MBAs!  See above.
 
Friends, all snarky-ness aside, there is no "JD Advantage".  At least, not in a real, appreciable sense that you can count on being worth three years of opportunity costs and significant student loan debt on the outside.  While it may be true that more and more 0Ls want to go to law school for the express purpose of not being a lawyer (although, just think about that, for a minute), the fact of the matter is this phenomenon is due to the imagined preftiege and marketability of the JD being foisted upon an unsuspecting public.  LSATs are declining, applications are falling, and the Law Schools are being forced to reinvent themselves in a desperate attempt to be relevant to a broader audience.
 
The people who are actually looking for "JD Advantage" jobs are the recent graduates who found out the employment statistics were bunk, have no job prospects lined up and need something quick because Sallie Mae is knocking.  Employers don't want JDs for reasons that have been described ad nauseaum (more legalese), but the simple fact of this is that only 15% of graduates get these jobs.  This is not high market demand.  This is not the reinvisioned law degree of the 21st century.
 
This is desperation, on the part of both the scammers and the scammed.  0Ls, run for the hills.

61 comments:

  1. "Another News Flash: people go to law school to be lawyers, y'all."

    Exactly! Who the hell willingly incurs an additional $100K+ in non-dischargeable debt, in order to land a "JD advantage" job?!?! People attend law school to become attorneys, just as students attend dental school to become dentists or go to medical school in order to become doctors.

    The legal academics who keep claiming that students can find meaningful work in non-lawyer positions are simply trying to get more asses in seats. They know that the attorney job market is glutted. Furthermore, they realize that even lemmings understand this reality. Hence, the "educators" see the need to re-market their diploma mills.

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    1. The word "advantage" is misleading because how much of an advantage does one actually get. Furthermore, these so-called "JD Advantage" positions aren't exactly abundant to begin with and they usually aren't entry-level as most seek specific experience. Anyone who is thinking about falling into one of these gigs should really think about other longshots like gambling, Powerball, the entertainment industry, etc.

      Delete
  2. I read this BS article a couple of months ago and thought it would make a good post - so thanks for posting it Duped. Imagine if med school grads were forced to take $15 an hour jobs as home health aids. I suppose Ms. Backer would have us believe that was every bit as good as a residency at Columbia Presbyterian. Also, check out the comment by one Liz Ryan Cole - a prof at the sinking ship known as Vermont Law School:

    "Will the US News report keep us from teaching all our students - those who want a liberal education in the law and those who want to practice?"

    A liberal education in the law? Are you kidding? If you want a liberal education in the law, get a library card and save yourself 200K.

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    Replies
    1. "A liberal education in the law? Are you kidding? If you want a liberal education in the law, get a library card and save yourself 200K."

      An excellent point. Law is a strange degree; three years of reading, few (if any) assignments other than a handful of "memos" which are often graded/critiqued by a 3L assistant, and a few exams at the end of each semester. It's 99% reading.

      If all you have us a passing "liberal education" interest in the law, I can give you a reading list that will take you a year to complete and will basically be a JD without the diploma at the end. It's $200K cheaper, and you'll be able to participate in all those exciting law grad dinner party conversations you feel so left out of.

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    2. Interesting. You should put that reading in a post.

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    3. I'll take you up on that, Charles. I'd love to see that list, or a similar list. If you put it in a book, I'd buy the book. It would also make a great post.

      Delete
  3. Iron Maiden's Run for the Hills should be the theme song of any potential applicant thinking about ruining their lives by going to law school. JDs are products that are over-produced and not in demand.

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    Replies
    1. Law school doesn't make you versatile. It makes you a bottom.

      Delete
  4. It was almost twenty years ago that I went through the Kaplin LSAT program. I went to UCONN which was one of the three likely schools a West Hartford Kaplin Center Student would end up at. (The others were Quinapiac and Western New England Law School.) I didn't see a single one of my Kaplin class mates though since people used their center at various hours I may have missed a couple people.

    The point I'm making is that a lot of people take the LSAT and then decide not to go to law school. I would suspect that the people who do not attend are those who are less likely to attend law as a career, and therefore think the 50% number is high.

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  5. "Run from the shills! Run for your life!"

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  6. this is just kaplan trying to spin the scam exposure. They probably took 100 surveys before they get the results they wanted.

    Or more likely they just made up the survey out of thin air.

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  7. Why don't they simply call it "Do all kinds of cool things with your life" rather than "law school?".

    I mean it's sooo versatile that the name "law school" is a misnomer.

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  8. "JD Advantage" seems to be yet more spin from law schools, as Nando wrote. It's a tactic to make the fairly worthless JD degree seem much more marketable outside the world of legal employment - which it absolutely is not. Employers want niche training and experience and they want people with just the right amount of experience ($$$$$) no more, no less. Everything today is "cookie-cutter". "JD Advantage" is yet more nonsense in a world that increasingly values cheap cookies vs. outdated, expensive recipes.

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  9. What is the point of writing "preftige" (with an f)? Is there a pun that I am missing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see that spelling a lot at Top Law Schools--a great site, you should go there--and it's meant to suggest that it's semi-literate people who care the most about "prestige."

      At TLS, it's all about cost vs. legal job prospects--none of this "versatile degree" nonsense--just as it should be everywhere.

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    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_s

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    3. There's the long "s," and then there's the toothless "s." Which one do you think applies in this context?

      Delete
    4. It's also an ATL (Above the Law) in-joke directed at David Lat, who is associated with "prestige" because of his Yale degree, his previous employment as an AUSA, and his close connection with high-ranking judges and government officials.

      He's also gay, so the "preftige" joke may not be as innocent as it seems. (like most other things stemming from ATL).

      Delete
  10. The funny thing is that law degrees usually aren't versatile even within the legal profession. Unless you specialize as an attorney, you usually won't do very well.

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  11. In fact, it started in 2011. And guess who propagated this crap?

    http://www.nalp.org/jd_advantage_jobs_detail_may2013

    2011.. 2011.. Oh, that's right!! That's when the decline in law school enrollment started to take off. What a coincidence!!

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  12. Reduce law school emissions. It's that simple.

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  13. One I did a job interview for a 35K a year job and the guy interviewing me put down my resume and asked: "Why do you want to work here?"

    Another person who was a head hunter for the insurance industry told me that he avoids lawyers because they are adversarial and cause trouble.

    A friend of mine with a JD cannot get a job as a paralegal and was told by a paralegal recruiter that his client does not want to hire JD's.

    In the want ads I see jobs for Insurance claims adjusters and they pay 80K a year and only a High School diploma is required along with some experience.

    And after enough time elapses there are time gaps in the resume which does not bode well, for I have always seen language such as: " a steady work history" in the job postings as one of the requirements.

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  14. It is not like this is new news. Here is an older post by a paralegal and blogger with impressive credentials about the "NO JD's" or "JD's need not apply phenom:

    http://www.practicalparalegalism.com/2010/05/heres-why-no-jds-need-apply-for-that.html

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  15. Older forum discussion from 2008: "Why do so many paralegal ads say "No JD's please?"

    http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/index.php?topic=99599.0

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  16. The simple retort to the concept of "students are going to law school to get JD Advantage jobs" is that at schools where the graduates have their pick of jobs, only a few percent of the class goes into JD Advantage.

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  17. On the other hand:

    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/new-insult-paralegal-profession-2197707.S.75941342

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    Replies
    1. That is quite a comment thread. Those paralegals really hate competition!

      Delete
    2. Yes. It's a common scenario anytime you have non-degreed but experienced people seeing "college boys" and "college girls" come into a place making more than the paralegal ever will, and are still incompetent. I've seen it in engineering bigtime, and I'm told NCOs in the armed forces often have a special contempt for officers.

      Nothing new there. You just have to make sure the paralegals know their place.

      Delete
  18. Only closures will stop the hose-ures. (Law students have been getting hosed for the past 15 years).

    Check out the accomodationist talk: "Law school closures aren't inevitable; we'll simply go on a diet and cut down a little bit on the booze."

    No.

    The adminstration of justice --which includes lawyers' ability to make a fair living and thus do some pro bono-- requires the legal academy to experience a legislatively mandated retirement. Emissions must stop. The decline in law school enrollment is noticeable, but the market is not working anywhere near with sufficient dispatch. To date, not one school has closed, yet the JD degree is about as marketable as one in medieval European studies.

    The time for "dieting" has come and gone. Board-up the windows and padlock the doors in Fall of 2014.

    The purveyors of education can show by example just how advantageous the degree really is.

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    1. I think that what we are seeing is a sort of a Mexican standoff. Everybody knows that some TTTs will fold, but the people staffing the TTTs are hoping against hope that their school will be one of the ones that survives. Lawprofs have little chance of making it in the real world so no one is going to fall on their sword for the greater good.

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  19. I hope to leave law in the near future and return to a business-related field. Even though I have the requisite business degrees and certification, they are dated due to my intervening law degree and legal career. My hope is that the JD doesn't hold me back. I don't harbor any illusions of it actually helping. Tip: If you don't want to practice law, then go for a 30 credit MS in accounting, finance, or marketing instead. (Even a 60 credit MBA would be better than the JD.)

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  20. Good JD advantage jobs are a rarity. I would love one, went to law school to get one, and gladly would quit my litigation job if I could land one.

    They're just not there in the numbers these idiots claim, particularly, as noted above, that students at top 25 schools seem to prefer traditional law jobs, suggesting an absence of 75-100k JD-advantage positions.

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  21. The only "JD Advantage" jobs that I know of that actually pay career-like salaries are connected to real estate title abstracting - ranging from residential to oil and gas. That is it. In every other field they treat you like toxic waste.

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  22. Bathsheba BoldwoodJanuary 6, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Apologies for going a bit off-topic. This is a new article by the immediate past president of the California State Bar about the decline in law school enrollment. It is instructive in its utter cluelessness. He concedes that law schools are churning out twice as many graduates than the number of law jobs available, and that "the average student in California leaves law school with a staggering debt load." Yet, rather than applauding the decline in the number of lemmings or even acknowledging it as a welcome market correction, he concludes that "we should attempt to stem the decline."



    http://www.dailyjournal.com/public/Pubmain.cfm?seloption=The+New+Lawyer&pubdate=2010-11-23&shNewsType=Supplement&NewsId=965&sdivId&screenHt=714#section=ptab3.cfm%3Fseloption%3Dnews%26pubdate%3D2010-11-23%26shNewsType%3DSupplement%26NewsId%3D932852%26sdivId%3Dtab3

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  23. Good JD Advantage jobs are rarer than unicorns. The majority of people go to law school to practice law. It is mostly from crushed dreams and disillusionment that JD Advantage jobs come into play. There are not any non-law employers clamoring for JD's. It is a bad joke, JD Advantage. The law school spin doctors came up with JD Advantage. Do medical and dental schools have MD Advantage jobs? Would that be a nurse?

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  24. I am waiting for the first law school to shut its doors, because they're already shitting their drawers.

    Once that first one goes, it will be like Jenga. Applicants will flee from dozens of low-end law schools, they will fold, etc. We just need that first one to topple, like dominoes.

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    Replies
    1. Which one is going to close first?

      Hamline? Valparaiso? Hofstra? Vermont?

      I'd say Laverne or Indiana Tech goes first.

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    2. Given their enduring pretensions and inflated costs, Washington and Lee could be first. They even have trouble placing grads in DC.

      Delete
  25. I know many, many patent attorneys (40% of the patent lawyers at my T60 Toilet) who graduated in the classes of 2008-2010 and who are either working for patent search firms or are at the PTO. The "lucky" ones work for the PTO, where they can eventually get to $100K + per year in exchange for a relatively easy, stress-free work life. The unlucky ones wind up as patent searchers at sweat shops like Cardinal Intellectual Property, Landon IP, Global Prior Art, etc. If they're lucky, they MIGHT make $40-60K/year with no benefits.

    Engineering LEMMINGS, do not make the same mistake we made. After a few years of working as an engineer, it's very likely you'll be on the path to $100K/year. The patent attorney job market is super saturated and filled with Boomers who won't retire until you're 50 or so. Do not incur $100K + of debt and lose three years of income to become a patent searcher with no future. Do not even think about going to law school unless you get into the top 10 schools.

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    1. Seconded. Being a full-fledged patent attorney is "good" work, if you can get it. Increasingly, more and more don't.

      STEM grads, ignore the siren call of the law schools, as their mindset on patent law is back in 1958 when Jack Kilby was patenting the "integrated circuit." The market has changed a little bit since then, but you won't hear it from them. Do not go this route unless family or close connections can get you a job.

      Go do something with your STEM degree instead, like maybe invent something patentable in the first place? I guarantee you that you will have more fun and satisfaction doing so, and struggling patent attorneys will thank you.

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    2. Third. The patent field is super saturated. I have been a patent lawyer for 20 years and am still working thankfully. I know scores of experienced patent lawyers who are unemployed, several former partners in patent firms. I know several PhD/JD or MD/JD patent attorneys either unemployed or barely employed. Now how is that for a genuine waste of human potential and human lives as a result of this vile, evil law school scam?

      Delete
    3. The lucrative part of patent work is litigation - and that is a tight field where experience is crucial. Moreover, the litigation could all decline quite suddenly if Congress passes some of the legislation now pending.

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    4. The MD/JD ones can still work as doctors, however. How can they be unemployed? Can not some of them join a practice group or affiliate if they do not want to open their own office?

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    5. Easy....you cannot practice medicine if you haven't finished a residency, and you cannot practice medicine if you have failed to maintain your license with the requisite fees and continuing education......there are a good many in both boats. However, the MDs who can generally do go back to practicing medicine after an escapade in the lawyer camp.

      Delete
    6. Imagining The Open ToadJanuary 7, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      A few comments on all the above. I generally agree with the consensus with a few caveats. If you've a BS in bio, chem, mechE, CivE, physics, etc., do not go to LS on the basis that you'll be able to be a patent prosecutor. The exceptions I still see doing fairly well (i.e. better than their similarly situated classmates) are electrical engineers and computer scientists, even with just a BS.

      I've only know three MD/JD's. One I went to LS with - a practicing uro-gen surgeon was basically doing law school for the experience and for something to do with himself evenings following his divorce (he said he intended to continue on with his med practice, not practice law, except to write his own instrument patents from there on out).

      The other two last I checked were still doing fine as practicing patent attorney MDs. But they both work in firms that are aligned with university teaching hospitals. It's my impression that it is essentially mandatory in that case that the firm have an MD on board.

      However, both are MD-PhD's who picked up the JD after deciding being a "research MD" wasn't all they thought it would be. Neither completed a residency (as mentioned above) so if their firms ever go under or lose the Uni clients, I think it would be very difficult for them to ever practice medicine 15 years out.

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    7. Yes, if their firms ever go under or lose the university clients, it will be very difficult or impossible for them to ever practice medicine again. Unfortunately, I know of at least 3 MD/JDs who are no longer working as patent attorneys because of lack of or lost business. Now that truly is a tragedy. Physicians are still needed.....patent lawyers are no longer needed....there are far too many. Practicing medicine is not glamorous, but in the words of an MD/JD I knew years ago "I thought medicine was bad (meaning the hours), but the practice of law is awful." He returned to medicine.

      Delete
  26. "fifty percent of law school bound students don't intend to use their law degree in the traditional legal field"

    HORSE LAUGH!!! Like they'll have any sort of say in the matter.

    They might be using it in the food service industry.... Where they'll be supplementing it with conversational Spanish.

    The idea that a degree is a hedge against lower class, demeaning employment is what is enslaving many today. Dump the degree and don't bother prepping for tests.

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  27. Yeah. A JD degree is versatile. You can use it to

    Line the bottom of a bird cage or a kitty litter box

    Wrap up fish

    Make a paper airplane

    Scratchpad on the back

    Catch oil dripping from your car

    Just use your imagination.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You forgot to mention the number one answer...wipe your ass.

      Delete
  28. Another former patent attorney here. Graduated from TTT in early 2000s. Worked as a patent associate for two years before being shown the door. Then couldn't find another patent-related job and did document review for about 8 years. I recently obtained a non-attorney position that involves contract negotiation and drafting for a good company. If I knew where my law degree would lead, i would have never stepped into law school or amass 160K in debt. Truth be told, I would have been happier back in science and sometimes I still think about what if. Don't go to law school, particularly at these prices. I second the comment above - patent law is ultra saturated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DupedNontraditional is right about undergraduate career counselors in STEM being totally clueless about job prospects for patent attorneys. There's a lot of rot being purveyed over the Internet about how great it is to become a patent attorney when the truth is much worse. I am gratified that Google searches on the employment market for patent attorneys quickly turns up results like OTLSS.

      Since I am a former STEM'er and current Toileteer First Class, I back up my comments with hard facts. Like... 40% of the STEMS that went to my Toilet never even made it into patent law.
      Here's another fact-based way to look at it if you want more than anecdotal evidence: look on LinkedIn at how many patent examiners and "patent searcher" types have JDs. Or cross-check 50 or 100 names of PTO attorneys with registration numbers in the 60,000 - 70,000 and see how many of them are actually working as patent attorneys.

      Here's another fact. If you spend more than a couple of years doing this type of searching/examining work, very few law firms are going to spend any time considering you for a job. Maybe in the old days that might have worked, but not anymore.

      STEM LEMMINGS, patent law is a scam. You will not get rich. You will almost certainly be under-employed and unemployable as an attorney. You will be unable to return to your previous career and you will have lost three years of income and wasted three years of tuition. All your hard-earned money will go towards some arrogant fat-cat law profe$$or's second home, yacht, or late-model German car. DO not consider law school. Stick with engineering. You will come out much better in the end.

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  29. So, being a university professor is less stressful than being a librarian or a seamstress, but more stressful than a hair stylist.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-least-stressful-jobs-20140107,0,3800066.story#axzz2ehS5ILPn

    But if "law professor" had been a separate category, maybe it would have won the overall "least stressful" prize.

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  30. JD might as well be VD when it comes to an interview.

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    Replies
    1. And considering some of the professors and the dubious activities they look like they enjoy after hours (and sometimes during office hours), VD is a rather probable outcome after spending a semester in the same classroom.

      Delete
  31. If a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) is really a Versatile degree and not confined to that juris thing, can we just call it a VD?

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    Replies
    1. I like it! From now on, it's VD in my comments. Versatile Degree.

      Delete
  32. Imagining The Open Toad (or maybe) Larry The Cable GuyJanuary 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    "That there's funny, right there. I don't care who y'are!"

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  33. Imagining The Open ToadJanuary 7, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    Here, check out this thread where a number of patent attorneys try to set a guy straight who "just can't believe" it's "really" all that hard for a BS Biology to get a patent attorney job.

    Why does he have trouble believing it? Well! Darn it! He knows three (count `em, THREE) guys who did get good jobs as patent attorneys.

    I love the one commenter who notices that the poster must have spent hours going over and over his draft text before finally posting (the comment was "you shore do write purty").


    http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php/topic,25232

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  34. Getting this VD is a debt sentence.

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    Replies
    1. An incurable disease is much like non-dischargeable debt.

      If only there were an antibiotic for student debt...but there isn't. And IBR just treats the symptoms, not the infection. That tuition virus just keeps on giving.

      Delete