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The 411 on JD:Esq. and PharmD:R.Ph.

I got asked this today at work by some of my physician assistant colleagues, so I thought I’d explain it here for the masses.  (Some of you of course already know this – but just in case you don’t…)

Someone who graduated and successfully completed law school earned a doctor of jurisprudence.  That’s a JD for short.  However, in order to practice law, each JD (except I think in maybe one state – lucky ducks!*) you have to successfully pass a bar exam.  Once you pass the bar and you’re sworn in, you’re licensed officially and an “Esquire,” or Esq. for short.  So, you can have a JD without being an Esquire – but you can’t practice law without the Esq.

Same deal with pharmacy.  You can go to pharmacy school and earn a doctor of pharmacy, PharmD.  But, you still have to pass a board exam, NAPLEX, and most states also require a law exam, MPJE.*  Once you’ve passed the NAPLEX and the state’s law exam for pharmacy law, you become licensed with the state as a “Registered Pharmacist,” or RPh for short.  So, you can have a PharmD without being a Registered Pharmacist, but you can’t practice pharmacy without the RPh.

The (great) thing about pharmacy school is that it actually prepares you pretty well for the NAPLEX and law exams–you’ve learned all that content somewhere in the curriculum at some point during pharmacy school.

The (bad) thing about law school is that it does a pretty lousy job at preparing for the bar exam.  As a health concentration and intellectual property junkie in law school school, I can personally attest to this.  And, to show you how poor the overlap is, below is the content that will be on the bar exam, and I’ll show you whether or not I actually TOOK that course content while I was in law school–ready?

Contracts/Sales/UCC – yes, but 4+ years ago now.  It’s 1L.
Constitutional Law – yes, 3+ years ago now.
Evidence – yes, 2+ years ago now. (BTW – least favorite class of law school, maybe next to Civ Pro – see “Trial Practice” below.)
Property – yes, 3+ years ago now.
Criminal Law – yes, 3.5+ years ago now.
Criminal Procedure – nope – never took this.
Torts – yes, 4ish years ago now.

So basically, all the federal law stuff above I either took at the beginning of law school (and I’ve slept since then), which I began in 2008, or didn’t take at all.

Next, we have the following topics on the Indiana portion of the bar exam – did I take these?

Pleading & Practice – No.  I took Civil Procedure my 1L year, but that was Federal law – not Indiana state law.  DIFFERENT. Next…
Agency, Partnership, Sole Proprietorships – Yes.  Although, it wasn’t Indiana law – it was Closely Held Business Orgs.
Corporations – Not really – Unless Mergers & Acquisitions count…?
Family Law – Actually took this, and they actually did teach some Indiana Law in it – but it was several years ago.
IN Constitutional Law – Nope.
Secured Transactions – Nada.
Negotiable Instruments – Zero.
Federal Income Tax – No. Way. (Pretty much anything that had “tax” in the description I completely AVOIDED in law school.)
Administrative Law – Yes, at the federal level – no at the IN state level.
Personal Property – Nope.
Wills, Trusts, Probate – Uhm, I took Trusts and Estates several years ago. Had NOTHING to do with probate, and not much if any Indiana Law.
Estate and Gift Tax – No.
IN State Tax – No.

So, what DID I take in law school?  Well, a lot of classes relevant to me as a pharmacist – health care reimbursement, antitrust in HC, HC financing, bioethics, research on humans, law and public health, etc.  Oh – and, let’s not forget my other passion – intellectual property (patents, copyright and trademarks) – super relevant to me as both a business owner and writer.

Guess how much healthcare law and intellectual property law are on the bar?

Yup! ZERO.

I’m here to make no excuses, and I’m heading right back to studying after this post before I fall asleep to some instructor’s voice over my computer from my bar review course (yes, I’m hoping I can study in my sleep.)

I’m just here to first and foremost educate – and secondly suggest, that perhaps it IS time to rethink the law school/bar exam process.  There’s a pretty big disconnect here, folks.  Time for some disruptive change, methinks.

*Disclaimer:  Every state is different, OK?  I’m talking Indiana here – you’ll need to look at your state’s rules if you live elsewhere. Oh, but the lucky duck non-bar-exam-taking-law-students?  They’re in Wisconsin.

p.s. and, ironically today I was quoted in the Indiana Lawyer talking pharmacy law.  #WorldsCollide

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