Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

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beachlife

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Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

Postby beachlife » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:14 pm

Hi all, I'm an atypical potential law student looking for some thoughts from peers. I'm about 20 years removed from my undergrad (BS in an engineering field), have had a successful career, currently am an exec & partial owner at a small (~150 staff) company. I'll be the first to admit that playing the role I play in a company my size and one with thousands of employees or more are entirely different jobs, and those in my role at larger companies typically have an MBA, but, are often also just "smart" on paper and really not that good at their jobs when it comes down to it. A JD carriers greater weight than most MBA's not bearing certain schools' names.

As my company grows, I've become increasingly reliant on our corporate counsel for things related to contracts, M&A, etc. and it triggered a little thought in the back of my head. I've always had an interest in law, particularly exactly what I currently require assistance with, contracts, mergers, acquisitions, and the negotiations related to them. It made me think perhaps getting a law degree would be a good long term move from the standpoint that I can play an expanded role with the knowledge I'd gain, and makes me more of an asset should our company ever get gobbled up by a big boy. Or, should something dire occur, I'm more marketable.

So, that being said, the only option I have is Stetson given they're in the location I'd need, and they have a part time (4 yr) program. They're supposedly great for legal writing, which falls into my area of interest. I'd be paying out of pocket, but would not be reliant on loans, so really the question for me to consider is whether or not a Stetson law degree would give me a greater long term investment return than just keeping the cost of tuition invested like it is now, and of course the value of my time committing to this for four years. They are not ranked particularly high; lucky to jump into top 100 every few years, so I'm not exactly going to get any respect out of the name, but have a resume to offset that.

Any thoughts? I realize there may not be many in the forum that are my age or would have had to go through this but I'm open to any opinion or discussion.

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

Postby trebekismyhero » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:25 pm

You seem to have a solid career going, I think law school would be a waste of time and money. Taking some legal classes to get a better understanding of things might be useful, but a JD from Stetson will not make you more marketable in the future. Also, if your company gets gobbled up by one of the big boys, as a partial owner, wouldn't you be making a lot of money from that? And the big boys would rely on actual lawyers anyways, not an exec that got a degree and never practiced

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guynourmin

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Re: Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

Postby guynourmin » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:44 pm

trebekismyhero wrote:You seem to have a solid career going, I think law school would be a waste of time and money. Taking some legal classes to get a better understanding of things might be useful, but a JD from Stetson will not make you more marketable in the future. Also, if your company gets gobbled up by one of the big boys, as a partial owner, wouldn't you be making a lot of money from that? And the big boys would rely on actual lawyers anyways, not an exec that got a degree and never practiced

AJordan

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Re: Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

Postby AJordan » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:51 pm

Law school has a generally accepted reputation of being a place that does a great job teaching academia-based theory and not a very good job of teaching students how to, you know, be lawyers. To get the kind of experience your company will find useful you'll likely need to spend a few years being a lawyer, learning from lawyers, and working for lawyers. This coupled with the financial investment would lead me to thinking it's not a great idea, especially if you want to continue running your company. If you want to give it to someone else to run for the foreseeable future then it could be a really cool second career and after five years or so working in a law firm you could always get your old company to hire you back as an executive consultant. :)

beachlife

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Re: Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

Postby beachlife » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:23 pm

Thanks for the constructive feedback. I think where I got this idea was from seeing that executives at large public companies often seem to have a JD, and either never practiced, or didn't for long. Having not had the opportunity to talk to any, perhaps the correlation is simply that smart entrepreneurial types often choose law as a start but gravitate to business, rather than the law background being a prerequisite to whatever their path to the C-suite was.

Trebek makes a great point about the company getting acquired scenario; a large company is going to have staff lawyers, so my legal knowledge would be useless to them. I was still in small business mindset, but that makes complete sense.

AJordan, I definitely would not make near what I do now if I chose to practice law as a regular employee, and at this point in life, I'd probably need to go to a T14, get years of good experience, and start a practice if I really did want to make it a second career and climb back to similar income. I don't have the LSAT for a T14, but it's not realistic regardless since I'd lose my time for other things I value. It was easier to do the 80 hour weeks in my 20's and 30's.

I've already paid for my first actual LSAT in a month. I'm going to sit for it either way since I've put about six weeks of studying in, and plan to do some more between now and then. I'm seeing 162-164 range on my timed self-tests, if I can push it higher, maybe Stetson would throw me a discount and change the variables a bit. :-) In reality though, I think you've helped point out some valid reasons a JD is not going to be particularly helpful for me, so I'm definitely going to weigh it against other options to better myself. I've got an itch to widen my breadth of influence as the company moves out of the 'small' category, so I'll keep at it, but it's seeming the JD is not the ideal option.

Thanks again

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kalvano

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Re: Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

Postby kalvano » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:50 am

Virtually everything I know as a lawyer that would be helpful to a company I learned via practice, not through law school. I don't believe your plan would be very helpful for what you want to achieve, and that's why there is outside counsel if needed.

wat

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Re: Non-traditional student; question re Stetson & part time

Postby wat » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:26 am

Law is becoming increasingly specialized. Even if you finish a JD, you're going to still have to pay attorneys. No legit company is going to allow a corporate officer to be his own legal counsel. And holding down a job while completing a JD from a good school is impossible.

An MBA would make more sense. But an MBA from anywhere worth bothering with is going to be difficult and time-consuming, and disruptive to your career/family life, etc. Again, not worth it, unless your company pays and gives you time to work on it.

Maybe you can get an MS/MA in something that you can do part-time? I know I've seen advertisements for things like "M.S. Engineering Management" online degrees from places like Florida International University. Since you already have a BS in the field, it might be of value. Or just get a masters degree in something that you find interesting and doesn't cost a fortune. There is a slight value in just having a "masters degree," even if it's not in an immediately relevant field.

Or just find a fulfilling hobby.



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