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trainchai

Next steps for a 30-year-old Lawyer?

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As the title says, I'm a 30-year-old lawyer considering a career change into medicine. I've been seriously considering medicine for the last couple of years. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of law and the lifelong learning component. However, I find the adversarial nature of practice to be draining, and the work is more about money than it is about people. Also, working in 'big law', there is not much meaningful, personal interaction with clients. Of course there are opportunities to help those truly in need as a lawyer, but these roles do not pay well. I expect that medicine will offer the same benefits as law (intellectual challenge, lifelong learning, financial security), but will also satisfy the meaningful, personal interaction I'm looking for. I understand that both careers involve significant challenges and frustrations, but I would rather get out of bed everyday trying to do some good for another person rather than gearing up for a legal battle over money. 

I would really appreciate your feedback on my stats, as well as recommendations for next steps to improve my likelihood of admission. The complicating factor for me is that most medical schools will consider my law degree as an undergraduate degree (despite our grades being curved). Also, I come from an Arts background so I have been self-studying for the MCAT. I'm not sure if I need to consider a second undergrad? Are there any schools in particular you think I stand a reasonable chance of admission for?

Thanks very much.

 

Academics

Undergrad:

  • Year 1: 3.0
  • Year 2: 3.3
  • Year 3: 3.3
  • Year 4: 4.0

Law: 3.17 (curved)

MCAT

  • 2017: CARS 128 (only wrote this section as I applied only to McMaster)
  • Need to rewrite full exam this year

ECs

  • Pro bono lawyer assisting clients detained under the Mental Health Act (200 hours)
  • Crisis Line work (280 hours)
  • Organize annual corporate charity fundraiser (200 hours)
  • Supervising lawyer at legal aid clinic (30 hours)
  • Working with Aboriginal youth (10 hours)

Work Experience

  • Associate at a national corporate firm
  • Co-founded a company 
  • 6 years of customer service experience 

Location

  • Located in BC
  • Qualify as 'in province' for McMaster

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your GPA is not remotely competitive and your non-academics don't matter considering your GPA. This is the harsh truth. Your only option would be to do a second undergrad, kill it, write for and study for the full MCAT, then apply to the select few schools that consider applicants on the basis of second undergrad and/or best/last 2 years (keep in mind that the average number of attempts to get in is 3 btw). This does not make sense to me considering you already have an undergrad, a JD, and you are a practising lawyer...trust me it is not worth it and this is coming from someone who is applying for the fifth time.  

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I'd say try; you never know how your application will be treated given your professional background. 

I would contact all the schools directly and ask if you'd qualify for "special consideration" --its an alternative admissions pathway which is formal or informal depending on the school.  I know SC exists for this situation at UoT and McGill, but I'm not sure about other schools. 

There may even be some feeling of reciprocity as MDs are definitly treated differently for law school apps when they feel like a mid career change.  

Your situation is distinct enough that applying widely may pay off. 

In my opinion as an MD who's been on both medical school and residency admission committees, anyone with a grain of sense would value your very applicable professional success above something artificial like GPA. Residency is a cakewalk compared to 6 years as an associate (the pay is better in firms though :P) 

I agree with the poster above that in order to stand any chance you'll need to be out of the main stream of applicants. 

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Given my experience on the admissions committee it would be difficult for you to be admitted because of the way the evaluation criteria is structured. GPA is a huge factor and unfortunately there are tons of students these days with amazing GPAs, work experience, and extracurriculars. I wouldn't say your case is a lost cause as you do have an interesting story but I want to convey the challenges moving forward.

I also want to emphasize that there is the risk that medicine may not be what you think it is either. While it may fulfill some of the things you are lacking in your current endeavours, many physicians are also unfulfilled with their careers. Piling on additional training time that could exceed a decade will be a heavy cost at your current life stage. It is a big decision to make and I would personally counsel people in their 30s to not take the chance. Although I am a professional that made the transition and am happy with my work I have seen far too many friends and colleagues have their lives adversely affected because of the cost of medical training. Perhaps it is a pessimistic view but I think physicians who are trapped in medicine do themselves and their patients a disservice. It is a shame that our training system doesn't offer more flexibility to alleviate these problems but we are stuck with what we have unfortunately.

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Very school dependent in my opinion.  I have a friend who went from Law to medicine. 

I would try if I was you. At least a few med schools might have the common sense to look at you as the whole package because let's be honest, you aren't the same applicant as a 22 year old undergrad. All you have to lose is some cash. 

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Well I will say I disagree with people telling you the reasons to NOT go for it.  There is no particular blanket approach in med school admissions anymore.  Each school has their own admissions requirements, so look them all up, and decide which schools you want to apply to, and meet those requirements, and apply until you get in.  Perseverance is HUGE.  I know people who applied 6 times and they were going to quit after that, applied a 7th and got in.

If it's what you truly want to do, then you basically need to find a way to do it.

It is for sure advised that you write the MCAT.  You may not have to do a 2nd undergrad, but take the pre-MCAT sciences, do well in them, and score really well on the MCAT, and you could be fine.  Like I said it's school-dependent.

Med schools nowadays take mature applicants with diverse experiences seriously as they tend to have a lot more of the intrapersonal and interpersonal qualities that drive success in such a field, vs a 21 year old who has never stepped foot in a hospital or dealt with much adversity in life.  I'm not bashing anyone and not saying that those types of applicants aren't warranted a fair chance or have the abilities to succeed, everyone is different, just a huge theme from my recent research.  This is why admission requirements have changed so much in recent years. i.e. UBC not requiring coursework on transcripts but still requiring MCAT, other schools giving more weight to rural applicants, a lot of schools posting on their admissions webpages of how they are looking for ROUNDED applicants etc. etc.

Good luck!

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I'm not going to tell you to go for it or not. Nobody knows you like you know you. As somebody who was in a similar position with a professional undergraduate degree with work experiences under my belt, everybody kept on telling me that I'd get in *for sure* because of other life stuff I have done. The only people who can tell you are the admissions offices because they set the rules. 

It's not as easy as "when there is a will there is a way."  You need to contact every school you want to attend (I emailed all English speaking Canadian schools) and ask how they will evaluate your law school grades.  When I applied, I remember that law was seen as a undergraduate degree for a good chunk of them. Then you can actually calculate your GPA and see what your chances are realistically. At many places when I applied, your entire file doesn't get reviewed unless you make the GPA/MCAT cut.  Kill the MCAT when you rewrite this year. It is one aspect of your application that is the easiest to change.

PM if you want.

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I will also disagree about people saying not to do it.
A second undergraduate degree can be completed in 2 years.
Your CV component is pretty much covered.
All you have left is the MCAT.

The worst thing that can happen?
It doesn't work out, you go back to law, and you clear your mind.
Will it affect you going back to Big Law after that 2 years sabbatical?
Probably at first but you will recover.

In my year, we have a lawyer with a similar age and profile as yours.
I also changed careers and had to do a second undergrad at 26.
I got in at 28 and will finish at 32.
It was the best decision of my life.
So I say : Do it.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Good luck:)

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