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I just got my grades, and needless to say they were less than stellar, approximately a 2.0 GPA. I got my Biochemistry PhD prior to attending a 2nd tier law school on a great scholarship, but now I stand to lose my scholarship lest I get a 4.0 (obviously unlikely due to my struggle this past semester).
What do I do? Obviously I need to buck up, work on my writing skills, and work harder at learning how to take law tests. However, I will now be forced to pay full price for two years of law school.
Assuming my grades will be mostly A’s and B’s going forward, do I still have a chance at a decent firm paying a decent enough wage to fend off the potential debt? Or should I pack it in and say it was a nice try?
— C Change
Dear C Change,
Can someone please explain to me what the hell people with advanced degrees are doing in law school? Law school is for generically smart people who lack other marketable money-earning skills. It is your duty as someone with a biochemistry Ph.D. to do important things like develop AIDS vaccines or effective cellulite treatments. Or just go to Pfizer and make a bagillion dollars ASAP. God did not intend for you to squander your math and science skills in a monkey hole somewhere attaching schedules to Chipotle securities offerings. That’s why He invented outsourcing.
The downfall of many smart people — such as yourself — is that they think they’re great at everything. If you’re getting multiple C’s your first semester at a T2 school,um, outlook NOT GOOD. Use that big brain of yours to cut your losses and quit, rather than rack up $100,000 just to slog through a degree because of pride. One advanced degree is enough! Mother always said you were greedy.
Listen, law isn’t your strong suit. It wasn’t mine, either. And that’s ok. You clearly excel in the sciences; I’m gifted at insulting people in fresh and exciting ways. We must each capitalize on these divine talents to forge our careers.
I hope this helps.
Sometimes, I wish I had Sylar’s powers, just so I could split open your skull and figure out what the hell went wrong. You have an advanced degree in making drugs and vaccines that could save lives, and you went to law school? And not even a particularly good law school! Why, did you read somewhere that patent attorneys make a bunch of money? Arrgghh. You could make an argument that nobody should go to a law school outside the first tier, least of all people with other legitimate and socially beneficial options.
Okay, so I clearly agree with Marin that you, of all people, should pack it in, cut your losses, and cure cancer. But for the sake of the argument, let’s assume that you are as terrible at biochemistry as you are at the law. Let’s assume that you left biochemistry because you realized you were more likely to accidentally make the Cordilla virus than you were going to cure anything.
To answer your question, it really depends on what you mean by “decent enough wage.” I mean, you’re going to a tier 2 law school, and so far you have produced craptastic grades. Chances are, a $160K starting salary is not in the cards for you. Depending on your school, it’s not totally clear that a Biglaw job in a secondary market will materialize unless you magically get straight As from here on out.
So what constitutes decent? $100K? $80K? A lot of people make a fine living on $50K. If you can be one of those people, you should be able to find a job making $50,000. That sounds about right for government work.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, your grades must improve. But assuming that you’ve learned your mistakes from the first semester, there is still a chance for you to make a living in the legal profession.
I don’t know why you’d want to do that, but again, I’d be happy to slice open your brain to figure out why.
— Guy Who Will Need Better Drugs
I’m surprised that Elie didn’t bring up the student loan aspect here…if you’re going to pay $100,000+ out of pocket for a job where you’ll earn $50,000, you’re signing yourself up for 4+ years in a government office or some patent “boutique” full of dandruff-head nerds who argue about machine parts all day. I don’t want that for you. And I don think you want that for you. Take your Ph.D. and RUN.
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