Med school? Second thoughts on law school/BigLaw

GoBells15GoBells15 Alum Member
edited September 2019 in General 22 karma

I recently graduated from a somewhat competitive university (top 70 US News ranking, whatever that’s worth) and landed a case assistant/junior paralegal job at a Global 50 BigLaw firm. 3 months in, I can already see why the attrition rates for associates are continuing to rise. The work is pretty soul-crushing, and associates can’t bill for a lot of the work they used to do (clients are refusing to pay for doc review, research, etc.). I could go on, but in short, BigLaw doesn’t seem worth the time and financial commitment of law school. As someone who took all the med school pre reqs, would my time be better spent in medicine? Just for reference, I graduated with a 3.98 GPA in chemistry (top of class) and am PTing at an average of 172, so I think t14 would be fairy attainable.


  • ExcludedMiddleExcludedMiddle Alum Member
    edited September 2019 737 karma

    I also took most of the pre-reqs and did well enough in them, as you clearly also did with that GPA. I decided against medicine after shadowing some doctors. I think I made the right decision for me personally, but I'm not sure you can ever really "know." Feel free to PM me to discuss this. For what it's worth, though, I think either one is going to be stressful, and that if someone's going to pursue medicine, they really, really need to have a passion for it. While you're currently - this could change possibly with a single-payer healthcare system - guaranteed (provided you make it through med school, residency, etc.) a six-figure income, that comes with debt and long hours usually. That's not to mention the amount of delayed gratification relative to law. But any career that (sometimes) pays a lot is going to come with its ups and downs for the most part. CEOs work a ton, have a lot of responsibilities, etc. You have to find the best fit for you.

  • cooljon525-1-1cooljon525-1-1 Alum Member
    917 karma

    Well I think they both have their advantages/disadvantages. Becoming a doctor takes a long time(4 yrs of med school then 3-5 yrs of residency). Law school is only 3 yrs. From what I hear, a lot of people who go to big law end up quitting and going in house or to a smaller firm. Ur going to be working very long hours in the hospital also but if u love ur job, it won't be bad.

  • Sunnopo1Sunnopo1 Alum Member
    98 karma

    Coming from a 15 year healthcare background, and experience in clinical patient care throughout the US, I would encourage you to shadow several physicians before deciding to pursue a medical career.

    I’m in agreement with @ExcludedMiddle comment. The advice I’ve often heard for someone considering MD is, if you can see yourself doing anything other than medicine, you should do that instead. Also, while your academics are certainly impressive, unfortunately that aptitude doesn’t always translate into great patient care (sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it not) - in those cases, people often aim for less direct pt care positions (ie pathology, radiology, public health, etc)

    Going along with @cooljon52 , residencies can go upwards of 7 years (neurosurgery) AFTER med school and excluding fellowships. Also, in northern CA, a registered nurse can make approximately the same $ as a a pediatrician/family MD for way less schooling. It just depends on what you want. If you wanted to test the waters of getting into med school, you could always start preparing for the MCAT and then see how you feel.

  • beezmoofbeezmoof Alum Member
    555 karma

    I would suggest doing whatever makes you most fulfilled. Either profession is costly in both time in money, though med school is more time-intensive. In order to stick either profession out with some semblance of sanity, I'd recommend making sure you're genuinely interested in the values of the job and its day-to-day duties---that way no matter what you have to pay, no matter what your hours are, you'll be happy doing it.

  • Hopeful9812Hopeful9812 Member
    872 karma

    I recommend doing what you think you will most enjoy! Something to consider is to get experience shadowing a physician within the speciality that you are interested in. Often times these shadowing experiences can be very informative. I've worked in healthcare my entire life and I will tell you that (as you probably already know) there are also soul-crushing moments in healthcare no matter if you are a physician, nurse, advanced practice provider, etc. There will be moments when you did all that you can for patients and sometimes they don't make it- and that feeling is utterly devastating. However, there are also countless amazing moments as well! There is also some work in healthcare which isn't billed but is required. At the end of the day, you have to really see which career makes you the most happy-> it isn't only about the numbers- your happiness matters the most. Good luck!

  • Chipster StudyChipster Study Yearly Member
    edited September 2019 893 karma

    As a physician for the last 30 years, I would not recommend medicine for you at this time. Congrats on those top scores in college. You no doubt could get into a good med school but it is really a profession for someone who can't do anything else and be happy. It requires 4 years of med school and then 3-6 years of residency and then likely 1-3 years of fellowship to just get to the starting line to practice. You will run up $350,000 in debt. You have to spend thousands every year maintaining your license. You are at constant risk of being sued. In my mind, it is a fantastic profession for the right person, but not one to be entered in if it is just an item on the consideration list. The surgeons I know will all tell you that you never really get away from it completely even in your very limited personal time.

  • zacharytsmith26-1zacharytsmith26-1 Alum Member
    849 karma

    You should ask yourself what do you want to do? If you want to be a lawyer, you don't have to work in big law. If you are only thinking big law because of money then think more long term. If you are good at your job, the money will come, maybe not right away but bet on yourself.

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    If you crush the LSAT, which your PTs indicate you have a very good shot at, you can go to a great law school and come out of it with little to no debt. If you get a great LSAT score (like prob at least 175+), you'd even be extremely competitive for the Ruby at UChicago, which is (IMO) basically the best outcome there is. You graduate from an amazing school with basically no debt (the Ruby is full tuition+stipend). There are other options too for going to a T14 for little to no money - Northwestern is extremely generous in funding, there are full tuition scholarships at multiple schools for certain folks.

    I basically say this to say, biglaw is not your only option post-grad. If you think you would hate it, keep your debt as low as possible and do something else instead. Public interest, small boutique firms, government jobs... there are a lot of paths out there that don't require you to go to biglaw. Yes, most firm jobs are going to be pretty demanding, especially as a 1st year associate. But if you don't rack up debt, you're not tied to biglaw.

    As others mentioned above, med school is 4 years, plus residency, then fellowship... you're going to come out of it with way more debt, and MD jobs are not necessarily less demanding or stressful. So if it's a coin flip and you think you'd be happy doing either, I think law school would be a better way to go - less debt and a lot more flexibility in what your career will look like. But if you're thinking you don't actually want to be a lawyer... well, that's a different story.

    I think you'd be wise to take a year or two to look into different types of MD and law jobs, find people who love what they are doing and ask them why they love it. That should be illuminating to see if you might enjoy the same thing.

  • xenonhexafluoroxenonhexafluoro Alum Member
    428 karma

    Why law or medicine? Why not research?

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