Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MBA v. Law School

Thinking of getting an MBA over a JD? Or maybe both? Well, here's some interesting insight into which to do.

"I don't have anything to say about the JD, but I have some thoughts on the MBA. I'm currently finishing up my MBA in the Part-time Program (Professional Program) at SMU in Dallas. Your assumptions are correct, most MBA programs have minimum work experience requirements for entrance, however the almighty Dollar goes a long way towards eliminating those. Honestly, I would NOT go straight from undergrad to grad school for an MBA. You simply won't get as much out of the program. You won't really bring anything to classroom discussions or be able to relate to the casework, lessons learned, etc. which IMHO is what makes an MBA program beneficial. Additionally, you likely won't be paid on par with others in your program because you won't have any work experience. It may get you into a company faster, but you won't be paid what the traditional MBA (say 5 years experience) is, and frankly, you shouldn't be.

Many people flame the Professional MBA programs, however they are becoming the norm as they are the real money makers for the universities. SMU's Professional Program is ranked much higher (Nationally) than the full-time program. It takes the same amount of time (2-years) but allows you to get work experience while you are going to school. Plus, if you're lucky, your company will pick up some or all of the bill.

My advice to you, if you want to go the MBA route is...pick the best part-time MBA program you can get into and get a job with a company in the area that will pay for you to go there. You will probably have to work for a year or so before you can get those benefits. Then you'll have a year of work under your belt, and can go to school while working. At the end of the program you'll have 3 years work experience and an MBA. The salary differential between this and going full time straight out of college and working for 1 year after graduating with an MBA will be significant, likely $20K/year at least, not to mention the student loans you would have taken on.

This is the route I took/am taking. I went back to school after 3 years in the workforce. I have no regrets, and although it has severely limited my free time, I have made great friendships with my classmates and don't feel that I have missed out on anything."

Also, one individual had this to say:

"I cannot agree with these sentiments as a recent law school graduate (5/06) myself.

Can it be hard work? Yes. Are there long days? Sometimes. But it's not always grueling and intense (and I was as "busy" as they're supposed to come - law review, law review editorial board etc).

On the whole, I found the experience to be quite rewarding. I love my job, I love my work - it's been a great experience thus far. The biggest drawback for me personally was the cost. I went to a private school that is incredibly expensive - so do consider the cost of schooling before your dive in.

Also, as you may find out through responses on here and elsewhere: people either loved law school and being a lawyer, or can't stand either experience. I think much of this has to do with one's general demeanor and personality. For instance, as a first-year, when everyone has the exact same amount of work to do - you'll find that some 1Ls will complain about their workload to other diligent, content, and non-complaining 1Ls (with the exact same amount of work).

You should cautiously listen to the responses re: law school/legal jobs, and look at the overall personality of the person when weighing their responses. Miserable people will be unhappy whether they're a lawyer or not, and those who complain will do so no matter their situation. Good luck no matter your choice."

Another person had this to say about law school v. getting an MBA:

"If you are even questioning yourself I would go with the MBA. It is a lot smaller time commitment (1-1.5 years?) versus law school (3 years). Also no offense to business majors but I believe it is a lot fewer hours of work and your getting/keeping a job is not dependent on passing a huge test at the end after you graduate.

Plus if you are unsure of yourself you can many things with an MBA from starting your own business to becoming a cog in the largest companies out there.

I'd say Law School is like Med School that if you aren't fully committed and 100% passionate you may be in for a long few years of school and maybe even more years of miserable work.

Both jobs can make a ton of money (CEO, corporate lawyer, partner, entrepreneur) and both can make little money (legal aid, entrepreneur, entry level manager, small law firm in poor part of country, etc).

I think it would be a shame to pick on "financial" reasons and not personal interest and fulfillment."

And what about the 1 year MBA?

"1-year MBA??? I wouldn't recommend it.

Do yourself a favor and if you are considering an MBA, look into the highly-ranked schools in your area. A reputable full-time MBA will be a 2-year degree. A reputable part-time or "Professional" MBA for students who are also employed full-time will be 2-3 years. Insist on a program that is fully accredited by the AASCB. Other accreditations will not carry much weight and that will translate into fewer job opportunities and lower pay for you. Over your working lifetime, a top-25 MBA will vastly outstrip the same degree from a lesser school in terms of return on investment.

I would avoid online-only programs as well. The real value of an MBA is interacting in person with classmates and professors, making real tangible business contacts, and learning to work as part of a team. Unless your dream job is limited to "virtual" interaction with others, it pays to have real-life experience.

Burrlogs is dead-on with his/her advice. Read it carefully.

I also got my MBA while working full-time. I had 2 years of work experience when I started and I was the 2nd youngest in my class of about 240. My company paid for about 1/3 of the tuition, which is not a lot, but still a nice benefit. I paid for all the rest out-of-pocket with student loans. Within 1 year of graduation I had paid off all $54,000 in student loans so I can vouch for the value of an MBA.

It's not hard to go back to school if you are a diligent, disciplined person. You will find leisure time in short supply, and you will undoubtedly get by on less sleep than you were used to. But it's doable and the potential rewards are great if you are sincere in your desire to succeed. Many of us have done it, and you can too.

Good luck with your decision. The fact that you are taking the time to carefully study your options at a relatively early age is a good sign that you will succeed in whatever you choose."

Law School Hours Exhausting
"The hours in law school are exhausting. My class lectures were about 3 hours each, twice a week per class. When you go home you get to read cases (edit: TONS OF CASES, 2-3 hours of reading per class) which for the most part can be summarized by your professor in 2 minutes. All but two of my professors used the rapid fire questioning that was very stressful (yes it prepared one for the career) but it was a shock coming out of undergrad to have a nasty torts professor sticking her finger in your face acting as if you were the defendant in the case at hand if you said the wrong thing. I compared it to the LSAT because both were time consuming, stressful, unenjoyable (wastes of time) in my life.

I stuck it out a year because I got a free ride just to show myself I could do it - but I would never personally go back to law school. It's hell in a classroom.

And FYI the state association for all the lawyer drunks in my state came to our 2L ethics class and talked about how lawyers are a bunch of angry bitter drunks, which is why I say proceed with caution and leave if you don't like it when talking about law school."

One individual who has been practicing corporate law had this to say:

" I've been practicing corporate law (syndicated and bilateral lending, loan workouts, bond financing, leveraged buyouts and commercial real estate development) for a few years and absolutely LOVE it! Just like with any job out there, I have plenty of moments when I want to tear my hair out, quit and move to Whistler to become a ski instructor but at the end of the day I just cannot imagine not being a lawyer.

I started out with a 1,000+ lawyer international firm, then switched to a 20 lawyer boutique and then two years ago, after spending a couple of sleepless nights trying to make the right decision (and then a few more days trying to convince my now wife that my decision was the right one), switched back to another large firm (500 lawyer AM100 firm (the largest in its home state) with 10 offices all over the country). Some of my friends enjoy practicing law just as much as I do and some of them have decided that it's just not for them and have switched or are in the process of switching to other areas.

Lawyers have a tendency to b^tch about our profession and their lives and some truly are miserable, overworked and unhappy (I have a couple of friends like that). Quite a few of us, however, are able to find a nice balance between work and social life and have very few regrets about our chosen career paths or future prospects.

It's fun to work on matters that make the front page of NY Times; it's gratifying to work on intellectually challenging transactions that impact the markets in profound ways and influence the lives of tens of thousands of people; it's incredible to work with and to learn from people at the very top of their respective fields and to see their names on the "best of" lists (we have former state governors, former state and federal judges, authors of the same treatises taught in law schools, etc...); it's humbling to have expert answers to practically any legal question at your fingertips -- we have experts in practically every field. Combine all that with very reasonable hours that allow you to have a normal life and you'll understand at least some of the reasons that many of us absolutely love what we do and can't even fathom doing anything else.

I am not the first one to say it, but I do have to admit that law wasn't my first calling. When I was the second person to realize (longwood was the first), however, that the market for gigolos catering exclusively to young, gorgeous women was a bit slow, I thought that law was an acceptable alternative."

More comments that are on point:

"I always wanted to be a lawyer, because I enjoy arguing. Hence, I wound up being a litigator, and I've enjoyed it immensely. I make decent money and am very good at what I do. If I had it all to do over again, I'd take my law school tuition money and by Dell stock. But, alas, I can't do it all over again and am stuck doing what I enjoy doing and making a decent living.

Lots of people quit the law, but don't lots of people quit lots of jobs? The thing about being a "lawyer" is that that it trains you to think logically (hopefully) and to read carefully (hopefully) and to assert yourself (at least, if you litigate). And if you decide you don't like what you are doing for a living, you can STILL be a lawyer -- just work in a different field such as Trusts & Estates, Corporate, Bankruptcy, personal injury -- whatever -- there are LOTS of lawyer-jobs out there and if you happen not to like the one you're in, you can find another.

That said, no point in spending all of that money on the education if you aren't relatively certain you'll love the law. I considered getting an MBA but after on semester of Accounting, I figured it wasn't worth the effort. Go figure."

Getting a JD and MBA combination might also be good:
"Depending on the area of law you decide to practice it, a Finance degree or business background can be immensely (no, make that IMMENSELY) valuable. One of the biggest complaints that business clients tend to have about lawyers is the fact that lots of lawyers have liberal arts backgrounds, which prevents them from seeing the business side of things. Consequently, plenty of lawyers tend to analyze issues in theoretical or "pure legal" terms, which analysis, although technically sound, can slow transactions down, create unnecessary and avoidable roadblocks and drive up transaction costs.

I can tell you that those of us who, in addition to conducting a purely legal analysis of the issues, also have the background to understand the business complexities and can, therefore, present the analysis in the proper business context tend to be in enormous demand by the clients and, consequently, by the legal employers. Further, if you tend to represent banks and other financial institutions as I do, a finance background will allow you to draft much better, more accurate and precise legal documents, which will translate into you being a much more technically proficient lawyer.

One word of caution, however: those with hard science backgrounds where they are used to coming up with definitive answers to problems sometimes have a lot of trouble with law school and the law in general, where our answers must often be presented in terms of possibilities and probabilities. Although most hard science background majors tend to hear my warning from more than one source, they tend to discount it. After all, they think, how difficult can it be not to give a definitive answer. What they don't realize, however, is that the issues that they tend to encounter in law schools have a lot less to do with definitive answers and a lot more to do with the way hard science backgrounds teach you to approach and analyze the problem. So, it is the approach and analysis that tends to create problems for hard science majors. If they can't quite grasp the way lawyers think, they will miss issues and end up making very poor lawyers."

Either way, it's a choice you will want to weigh the pros and cons about. Talk to a career center or school counselor or research some more on your own. Good luck!

If you are considering law school and want to get a stellar grade on the LSAT, consider this fine ebook that can show you how to get into the law school of your dreams:  Click Here!

Support us by: 

Checking out our amazing store on Etsy: http://www.bohobuttons.com

While in law school I traveled the world.  Puerto Rico.  Egypt.  Israel.  The Netherlands.  All over the United States.  Costa Rica.  Panama... How, you ask?  I found ways to make money on the side.  One of those ways was hosting my apartment on AirBnB.  If you have an extra room, this is a perfect way to make some extra cash.

Since law school, I have traveled to dozens of countries for pleasure with my family.  It's not rocket science.  You just need to know how to start some side hustles.  Another one of my favorite ways to make money is buying and selling stocks and cryptocurrency on Robinhood.  Join now and get a free stock through this link:  Join Robinhood and Get a Free Stock!

1 comment:

The Evolution of Legal Marketing: From Billboards to Digital Leads

https://www.pexels.com/photo/coworkers-talking-outside-4427818/ Over the last couple of decades, the face of legal marketing has changed a l...