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steversteves

Nurse wanting to apply to law school?

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Hello all,

 

I have seriously been considering applying to law school and have many questions from current law students, law student graduates and prospective law students in similar situations as I! 

 

I am currently working as a nurse and doing my masters degree (in nursing) as a nurse practitioner. I have given serious thoughts to applying to law school post graduation of my MSc. I am very interested in healthcare policy, malpractice law and fraud. I feel that law school would be a great opportunity to focus on these interests and learn many more potential areas of practice. 

My questions for everyone are:

 

a) Anyone here do healthcare/nursing/medicine then go into law? What was the experience like? I fear that law is very different from anything I have studied. I see some people who have done BScs in biochem and hard sciences that go into law, what was the experience like for you? 

b) Does already having a professional designation and registration in a professional college and having attended a professional school help? 

c) Does law school consider previous publications/research/work experience when applying? I have a couple publications and wonder if being present in the academic world helps your admission application? 

d) I think my GPA is 3.8 in my undergrad (my MSc is TBD), is that considered "good" to law school standards? What is everyone's experience with GPAs and admission? I worry about the LSAT. I really do not want to have to re-write it a thousand times, so I am really hoping that there is some weight given to other things other than LSAT scores. 

 

and of course the million dollar question

e) Job prospects, are they good? I hear that new lawyers make anywhere from 50,000-80,000. Currently, my salary is slightly above 100,000. It would be super depressing to have to pay for law school and then end up falling back on my undergrad/masters for income! I know salary shouldn't be a consideration if you love what you're doing, blah blah blah, but it is a very practical consideration that I have to give prior to investing more time and money into school (I have been in university now for 6 years non-stop! I am ready to be done with it any day now!)

 

I appreciate all your views/opinions and feedback in advance! 

 

Thank you

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Where do you want to practice?

 

Which schools are you planning to apply?

 

Write the LSAT first

 

Your opportunity cost is very high... you will give up $400,000 in loss wages in the 4 years

minus whatever you can earn during summer. plus the cost of tuition and living expenses.

 

You may not be able to practice in areas that you want after graduation.

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Hello Luckycharm,

 

I actually have no preference to the area I want to practice, I am living in Ontario currently however.

In terms of schools to apply to, I was aiming for Queen's, Ottawa and Lakehead (I am originally from up north). 

What do you mean by opportunity cost? As in post graduation or during law-school? 

 

Thank you again!

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The opportunity cost is that, if you're making $100k a year, you'll be giving up $300k for your three years of law school and, depending on your articling prospect some portion of that during your articling year.

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I can't really speak to any of your questions directly, but (1) I think having a prior career as a nurse could open some cool job prospects in health law and other areas of work but (2) you're right that you could end up taking a pay cut (not to mention the opportunity cost which is certain) and you might end up working in an area of law that isn't health care related (or is only tangentially related, like personal injury, which is really just litigation that requires no special background).

 

I guess all I'm pointing out is that you would be taking a risk when you have well paying and secure employment already.

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Hello Luckycharm,

 

I actually have no preference to the area I want to practice, I am living in Ontario currently however.

In terms of schools to apply to, I was aiming for Queen's, Ottawa and Lakehead (I am originally from up north). 

What do you mean by opportunity cost? As in post graduation or during law-school? 

 

Thank you again!

 

 

I suggest you try to speak to lawyer/firm that practice health care related law.

 

You need at least 160 LSAT to be on the safe side. Convert your GPA using OLSAS conversion chart.

 

Your opportunity cost ,tuition and living expenses could be as high as half a million.....

Edited by Luckycharm

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Hello Luckycharm,

 

I actually have no preference to the area I want to practice, I am living in Ontario currently however.

In terms of schools to apply to, I was aiming for Queen's, Ottawa and Lakehead (I am originally from up north). 

What do you mean by opportunity cost? As in post graduation or during law-school? 

 

Thank you again!

Just a couple of other thoughts.  

 

First, forget about practice areas, where do you want to live/work?  Do you want to return to the North?  That's going to shape your career opportunities (hint: most  of the high paying legal jobs - certainly  the jobs for young lawyers - are in Toronto). 

 

Second, in terms of pay, if you're making just over $100K a year right now, realistically, the best you can hope for is to make roughly that (plus bonuses) as a first year associate at a Bay Street law firm.  Granted, biglaw salaries generally move up pretty quickly (caveat: past performance is no indication of future performance) so that, within a few years, you'll probably be making significantly more than you would as a nurse (though - perhaps not enough to compensate for the opportunity cost, and what you take home after-tax might be significantly less than expected).  But... you may not be interested in biglaw, or, if you are, you may not be able to wrangle a position with biglaw.  In which case, maybe a starting income of $50-$70K as an associate (assuming you can find a job - lots can't) might be more realistic (perhaps with some kind of bonus/incentive structure) - others can comment more accurately on that than I can, but I think it's fair to say that you'd be leaving money on the table, at least initially.  Also, are you part of a pension plan right now?  That's a luxury most lawyers don't have.  

 

Now, you're right, that money isn't everything and that you have to love what you're doing.  At the same time, you don't yet know whether or not you'd like the practice of law.  Lots of people don't.  For many of them, it's not that they don't like law, it's the business of it that turns them off.  What they don't tell you when you're applying for law school is that - if you're in private practice (e.g., most lawyers) - you have to run your own business.  Some people don't want to do that, some people aren't very good at it.  So before you make any decisions, it probably wouldn't hurt to meet/talk with a couple of lawyers in practice areas/regions where you'd like to work and just ask them about their practices (as you may guess from this site, lawyers like talking about themselves).  

 

In terms of law schools, nothing wrong with Queens or Ottawa (and I'd include Western and Windsor with them as well - obviously Osgoode and UofT are both good, but at a higher price), but Lakehead is still something of an unknown quantity as a law school.  If you want to work in Northern Ontario, that might be an option.  If you don't, the other schools should be your first choice.   

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I think you've gotten some good responses above about opportunity cost, risks, etc. Just thought I'd jump in on a more practical point.

 

Health-related law is a pretty big area, and there's some variety in what opportunities are out there. For your general information, and in case you do want to seek out some lawyers who practice in the field for advice: firms like McCarthys, Gowlings and Lerners are CMPA counsel (so they do a lot of work acting for doctors about whom complaints have been made), and BLG does a lot of work for hospitals / hospital admin staff. These are fairly large practice areas for these firms.

 

While you definitely don't need related background experience to do that work, I do know at least a couple of people with hard sciences or somewhat related undergrad/grad backgrounds who ended up in those practice areas. I feel like your experience could give you a bit of a unique and useful perspective, and at the very least would demonstrate a genuine interest when looking for work.

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a) Anyone here do healthcare/nursing/medicine then go into law? What was the experience like? I fear that law is very different from anything I have studied. I see some people who have done BScs in biochem and hard sciences that go into law, what was the experience like for you? 

b) Does already having a professional designation and registration in a professional college and having attended a professional school help? 

c) Does law school consider previous publications/research/work experience when applying? I have a couple publications and wonder if being present in the academic world helps your admission application? 

d) I think my GPA is 3.8 in my undergrad (my MSc is TBD), is that considered "good" to law school standards? What is everyone's experience with GPAs and admission? I worry about the LSAT. I really do not want to have to re-write it a thousand times, so I am really hoping that there is some weight given to other things other than LSAT scores. 

 

 

Don't have an answer for the million dollar question but I can throw my 2 cents in with these.

 

a) Physiology background, worked in health-related research. People in my class can write the amazing elegant papers and have a mastery of the English language that I can only hope to one day achieve. They wrote papers all through undergrad and all I did was write lab reports and research papers. Having said that, I've found that most of my profs prefer a writing style in between my classmates and mine. Straight to the point but persuasive. They often get stick of how wordy some of the English major's papers are but for mine they will write something along the lines of "needs more here" when critiquing.

 

The reading was a bit of a shock too. I'm used to dense textbooks where every line is important. A lot of case law involves reading large volumes of text and distilling it down to important take-aways. That's been my experience so far.

 

b) it doesn't hurt. My med school background is confusing and twisted so I won't get into it, but the partners at the firm i'm working at like that I have a health related background and I don't shy away from technical cases. It's always good to bring some form of expertise to a file because it allows you to look at the issue from a different perspective than your team.

 

c) Many don't. Some do. I'm pretty sure my personal statement wasn't even read by the ad-com at U of A. But then again, U of A is a very numbers-based school.

 

d) GPA is good. A good chunk of schools won't even look at your MSc GPA.

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1L-2L here; hard science undergrad.

 

a) I generally agree with setto. Though I don’t worry as much as him about the writing. First, he underestimates his own writing. Second, just as he says, purple prose* and big words don’t get you good grades in LS. Instead, all good papers rest on concision, sound logic, coherence and even plain language sometimes.

 

c) I think schools with holistic admission policies will. Publications will certainly not harm your application.

 

d) Your GPA is competitive. I wouldn't worry about it. 

 

*I am a prime offender.  :blush: 

 

[...]

 

The reading was a bit of a shock too. I'm used to dense textbooks where every line is important. A lot of case law involves reading large volumes of text and distilling it down to important take-aways. That's been my experience so far.

 

[...]

 

Completely nailed it. 

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If it's of any value, we have a summer student in our Charlottetown office who was a nurse prior, and I'd be happy to put you in touch.

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I have met a lawyer who is a former nurse practicing in the area of elder law as well. From what I have seen so far there are some policy issues such as patient autonomy that crossover between the two disciplines.

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Hello all,

 

I have seriously been considering applying to law school and have many questions from current law students, law student graduates and prospective law students in similar situations as I! 

 

I am currently working as a nurse and doing my masters degree (in nursing) as a nurse practitioner. I have given serious thoughts to applying to law school post graduation of my MSc. I am very interested in healthcare policy, malpractice law and fraud. I feel that law school would be a great opportunity to focus on these interests and learn many more potential areas of practice. 

My questions for everyone are:

 

a) Anyone here do healthcare/nursing/medicine then go into law? What was the experience like? I fear that law is very different from anything I have studied. I see some people who have done BScs in biochem and hard sciences that go into law, what was the experience like for you? 

b) Does already having a professional designation and registration in a professional college and having attended a professional school help? 

c) Does law school consider previous publications/research/work experience when applying? I have a couple publications and wonder if being present in the academic world helps your admission application? 

d) I think my GPA is 3.8 in my undergrad (my MSc is TBD), is that considered "good" to law school standards? What is everyone's experience with GPAs and admission? I worry about the LSAT. I really do not want to have to re-write it a thousand times, so I am really hoping that there is some weight given to other things other than LSAT scores. 

 

and of course the million dollar question

e) Job prospects, are they good? I hear that new lawyers make anywhere from 50,000-80,000. Currently, my salary is slightly above 100,000. It would be super depressing to have to pay for law school and then end up falling back on my undergrad/masters for income! I know salary shouldn't be a consideration if you love what you're doing, blah blah blah, but it is a very practical consideration that I have to give prior to investing more time and money into school (I have been in university now for 6 years non-stop! I am ready to be done with it any day now!)

 

I appreciate all your views/opinions and feedback in advance! 

 

Thank you

A) Law is definitely different than anything I have learned before but the transition was not difficult at all. Content is content. Whether you are learning about nephrons or contract law, you have to understand what is being said then apply it. While my writing isn't up to par compared to some of my classmates, and that showed in my legal writing course, my science friends and I all finished above the curve. How well you do in law school has nothing to do with your undergraduate background but rather work ethic and exam writing. 

 

B) Absolutely! Being an RN is one thing but being an NP is amazing, in both admissions to law school and job prospects. As long as your marks are decent you will pull multiple interviews. Beyond the interviews it will be about you "clicking" with the lawyers. 

 

C) Yes, in almost every application they want you to demonstrate your communication skills so that is where you talk about your publications demonstrating your written communication. Some also ask about greatest accomplishment or a difficult task etc. All these areas you can talk about the publications. Beyond admissions they will also help for job applications. Look at every lawyers profile and you will see they have a list of publications. Albeit, most are legal publications but some, especially those starting from science backgrounds, will still list their scientific publications. Having one is cool, having a list is great.

 

Same goes for your job experience. You have to write it into your application while answering their questions for each personal statement. 

 

D) A 3.8 is good for every single law school. What matters now is the LSAT but without having written it there isn't much we can go off of. You are financially secure now so putting $600 into an LSAT course and a couple hundred on prep material shouldn't be a big deal. Write a diagnostic right now to get an idea of where you are then get studying! 

 

E) Totally depends on city, how well you do in law school and some random dumb luck. Other than Toronto most cities will start around there but the ceiling is definitely higher than your current ceiling. Your salary as a lawyer will definitely be comparable, if not higher, if you work at it. 

 

As others mentioned here already, the opportunity cost is massive. I don't think we need to tell you again by not working for 3 years you are essentially losing $300k and taking on law school debt. However, first of all, we don't know your whole financial situation so maybe you know you'll be ok. And secondly, there are ways for you to lighten your load. 

 

Entrance scholarships and bursaries etc. A 3.8 is great so if you can absolutely kill the LSAT you will get offers from schools that will reduce your tuition load. 

Keep your license! I worked ~10hrs a week in 1L. It sucked but was doable. If anything, it only cut into my video game time and social time with the SO and friends. Try and get a casual position for the school year. You could easily do a 12hr shift once a week except during exam months.

 

Let me know if you have more questions about law school. My SO is a practising RN and I come from a science/health background so I guess I have a good grasp on the fields. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jgweebz

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Hi! I am an engineer and I will be attending law school this fall. I'm in the same position as you with lost wages, and I expect to be making quite a bit less money once I graduate than what I am currently making. That's a tough pill to swallow.

 

I decided it was ok because of my conversations with people in the business. I intend on doing oil and gas law, so my background will help me whether I choose to practice engineering or law. It's also a boost for upper management in an oil and gas firm. I decided a few years of lost wages is ok, especially when you consider how some people take a few years off out of highschool. In the grand scheme of the many years of work, its a small chunk of cash. For me, I think there is a very good chance that it will help gear me towards my interests and goals, which I value far more than a couple hundred thousand dollars.

 

Also, I was nervous for the reading/writing portions of law but after talking to quite a few people, they explained that they teach a lot of people how to write differently anyways, so not to sweat it. I'm sure I'll have to work a bit harder than other people, but that's life.

 

Best of luck :)

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My mom is a nurse and has a lot of colleagues who split off from the work to pursue other opportunities. A few went in to law school. I believe one covers personal injury and malpractice stuff (so some work related to previous experience).

 

A few have actually gone back and worked for ONA as union lawyers. I think one even mentioned that was their goal for going to law school. So lots of opportunity. You can leverage your past and build on it, or just completely change directions.

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100K X 4 + tuition + books + living expenses - whatever you earn in that period = a truckload. Be sure you really want this.

Edited by kcraigsejong
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Thank you everyone for your response!

 

I have decided to bite the bullet. I have been prepping for LSAT and will write this year (2017) and apply for the 2018 academic year once open (which will give me time to prep/write LSAT and finish my dissertation). 

 

Law school is definitely an interesting challenge that I hope to pursue and am exciting about the prospects! 

 

One thing that I am already impressed about is that there was not 1 single negative post! All of you seem very supportive and encouraging of this endeavour, which is very refreshing! 

 

Thank you all again :)!

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One thing that I am already impressed about is that there was not 1 single negative post! All of you seem very supportive and encouraging of this endeavour, which is very refreshing! 

 

Thank you all again :)!

Read post #16 more carefully.

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I know of two lawyers who were nurses previous to attending law school. One is a solo/general practitioner in a small town, the other was a partner in a small firm in a small city - this one is retired but still does some work for my firm on personal injury files on a consulting basis. Knowledge of those pesky medical charts is useful in picking up little things that another lawyer might miss when bringing a malpractice case forward, but otherwise anybody can do the work.

 

The biggest thing you should consider, steversteves, is whether you really have an interest in law and whether pursuing that interest is worth giving up 3 years of salary for more debt and potentially uncertain job prospects*.

 

* = job prospects vary by individual. The market might be poor in Toronto or Ottawa due to saturation by a flood of law school grads but you might find a fit working for a health authority in a more rural region, or a firm, in a place like Thunder Bay, Sudbury, or someplace even smaller like Kenora - but you can bet they won't be six figure salaries.

 

It's worth noting that a lot of people get into law thinking about one area and then find themselves drawn into another within weeks of starting law school.

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