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Engineering Double degree in engineering and law?

  1. May 17, 2017 #1


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    My university is now newly offer a double degree in engineering and law.
    I am going to major in mechanical engineering. The law degree offered is either J.D. or LLB.
    I am not sure about that because my university has no experience in this kind of jointly offered program with other university in totally different field.
    It seems to me that both field requires chartership, and is not related at all. Is it reasonable to study engineering and law at the same time?
    What is the career prospect of having education background in both field?
    Thanks for any suggestion to me.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2017 #2
    Seems to me that it would be an epic amount of hard work to successfully study both fields simultaneously.
    Keep in mind that having this simultaneous degree only prepares you at the foundational level (IMHO). The engineering program will teach you how to solve problems. The law program gives you (...what? Somebody else needs to contribute here). Neither makes you "competent." Competency will come with practice, experience, and mentoring.

    Before you ask "what career prospect", you need to ask yourself what is it that you wish to achieve with this dual-degree knowledge?

    The most obvious career prospect is "Patent Attorney." But I'm sure there are many, many other career avenues that could use someone knowledgeable of laws and has the ability to break a problem situation apart logically and chart a course for solving it.
  4. May 17, 2017 #3


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    Hmm, I think you're right to be a little wary of such an offering, unless of course, this is an eight year program.

    In Canada (and I believe it's similar in the US), a law degree is a professional program and normally admission into the program is so competitive that you need to have completed a prior degree as a part of the admission requirements (or if not, a couple years of university along with a set of prerequisite courses). So the first flag/question that comes up is how competitive is this joint degree program to get into? Is it on par with other law programs in your country? Engineering on the other hand tends to admit students right out of high school.

    Secondly, while there is some overlap of the fields - patent law, ethics and technology, etc., the study of each field will largely be independent from the other with little if any overlap of course material. This presents you with the dilemma of spreading yourself too thin in either field - you may cover the basics, but those who studied only one of the fields will likely be exposed to a lot more within it. This is a common concern with any double major, but when the two majors are related like, say physics and mathematics, or physics and computer science, you can benefit from a synergistic effect. I don't mean to say it's impossible to combine the two. There are examples of successful lawyers who started with degrees in engineering. But I would look long and hard at how the university approaches this concern.

    Building on this point there's also the question of the education to professional transition. Because these are two distinct professions and the niche areas of overlap are relatively small, there's a good chance you'll end up working in one or the other. Are you going to be upset if you end up working as an engineer, and not have any professional opportunities to put your law degree to work? If the join program is that much longer, you might also want to think about the opportunity cost. If you did straight engineering you would start working (potentially) four years earlier. That's fours years of paying down a mortgage, four years of investment opportunity, etc.

    Finally, there are the common concerns about any new program. When it comes to something like your education it's nice to judge a program by where it's recent graduates are ending up. If you see that the program's graduates are ending up as lawyers, do well on their professional exams, or are ending up as sought-after engineers, than you have reasonable grounds to expect to end up in a similar situation. But as part of the first couple classes you might be a guinea pig.
  5. May 17, 2017 #4
    I'd go so far as to say that they are almost mutually exclusive in terms of philosophy. Lawyers seem to look to the letter of the law (when convenient) or to emotion (again, as convenient) in order to win their case. Engineers are much more concerned with real truth and understanding. You cannot cover up a failed design as nearly as someone can argue that it must have been the fault of another.
  6. May 17, 2017 #5
    Are you in the US? There are two career paths in which an engineering degree combined with a law degree (JD) would be useful:

    (a) As mentioned above, a career as a patent attorney. Note that only specific engineering degrees will qualify you to sit for the patent bar under Cat A. Fortunately, mechanical engineering is one of them. The full list can be found on pg. 4 of this bulletin: https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/OED_GRB.pdf. Note, however, at this time, EE, CS, and CE are the most in demand for patent law, but who knows what the market will be in the future; a BS ME with no work experience is probably OK.

    (b) A career as a product liability attorney (e.g., handling lawsuits when a piece of equipment fails and injures or kills someone). If you plan to go this route, check further. I believe (not certain) that a BS with no work experience may not be enough to give you a substantial advantage; I think becoming a licensed PE would give you a big boost.
  7. May 18, 2017 #6


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    Thank you you guys for commenting
    I am not in US, but I would consider international prospect as well, as I won't limit myself to work in my hometown...
    moreover, as a year one student, I really have not much idea with what the degree do with me...

    anyway, thank you so much
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