Law degree for business

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mrm2083
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Law degree for business

Postby mrm2083 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:49 am

I've always wanted to be a lawyer but don't want to spend my life actually practicing law. I majored in Entrepreneurship for undergrad and am wondering what people's thought are on getting a JD if you want to go into business, specifically running your own business or working your way to the top of a large company. I've spoken to a few successful business men who hold JDs and they say it has helped them plus I know that there are more than a few JDs who are CEOs of major corporations. Do you guys think the JD opens doors? Looks good when trying to get venture capital or any other kind of funding? How is the job market for working as an in-house lawyer in large companies? If planning to go this route does it make sense to go for the T-14 name or is that worthless?

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KibblesAndVick
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby KibblesAndVick » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:59 am

When you decide if you want to go to law school you should consider the opportunity costs. You're investing three years of your life and, unless you get a major scholarship, a very large amount of money. If you know that you want to go into business there are probably more productive things you could do with this time and money. For example, getting a MBA would probably serve your interests better than a JD.

"I've always wanted to be a lawyer but don't want to spend my life actually practicing law." From what you've posted, this would suggest that law school is not the best option for you.

I don't have first hand experience with earning a JD and going into business, nor do I know any credible sources. Because of this I can't actually answer your questions. However, it seems like you're walking down a very long, expensive, winding road for less than ideal reasons.

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nealric
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby nealric » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:21 am

I've always wanted to be a lawyer but don't want to spend my life actually practicing law


Then don't go to law school. Would you go to medical school if you didn't want to be a doctor?

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Grizz
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby Grizz » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:25 am

If you think it will be worth more than $450,000 in income ($150k tuition and fees plus about $100k per year in opportunity cost), go for it. I'm guessing it's not going to be though. I'd say get an MBA.

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missvik218
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby missvik218 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:45 am

I'm a little confused, it sounds sort of like you want to be a corporate attorney!? In which case your background could be helpful and it may not be a dumb idea to look into JD/MBA programs.

I know what you're saying though about successful business people who hold JDs, the president of my company was an attorney before his current position and raves about how it's an excellent education not only for a practicing attorney but the skills required to succeed in both arenas overlap. However ... if you want to work in business and have no interest in law other than having it as a "set of acquired skills" then I'd agree with all of the above posters. It's a ton of time and money for something you just want to have in your back pocket and on your resume with no intention of ever really using.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby Kiersten1985 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:52 am

If you have $200k lying around then go ahead. It's a pretty big investment for something that's, in the end, pretty unnecessary for what you want to do. Go get your MBA.

mrm2083
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby mrm2083 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:19 pm

Ok I think I gave the wrong impression in the way I worded my post. I do plan to practice law in the beginning and would love to get a job as a lawyer for a large corporation. It is just that my aspirations in life aren't to be a practicing lawyer for the rest of my life, instead I would like to use it to break into more of a business world. I was also offered a free ride at my local T2 so it is more possible opportunity cost than loans etc. I'm just wondering what people's thoughts are on JDs in the business world and if the name of the degree matters at that point.

Flanker1067
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby Flanker1067 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:25 pm

There are definately ways to break into to business and have your law degree help you along. I think the point people are making is that your law degree in these cases won't be make or break, but your experience in business as a lawyer will. Of course, nothing I have said here is something you probably didn't know already.

Add: As for the last question. The school will matter, because your experience as an attorney will matter.

bigben
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby bigben » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:18 pm

There is nothing you can do with a JD that you couldn't have done without a JD, other than practice law. Furthermore, the non-JD path to any given non-law career is almost certainly a MUCH easier, more direct, and more cost-effective approach than the JD path.

Of course, you may not care about getting from point A to point B efficiently. If you want to try law for a while with the idea that you might go into business later, go right ahead. Nothing wrong with that. But the law degree isn't really going to be useful or help you get into business, at least not in the best possible way. There are tons of JDs out there who are successful in business and all sorts of things, but that is because they are extremely motivated and smart people, not because they had a JD.

(Narrow exceptions are possible of course, for example some banks and consulting firms recruit from T14 law schools. So in some individual circumstances it seems possible that law school could open up doors that probably never would have been opened otherwise).

Hope this helps.

EDIT: The T14 vs. T2 for free is a tough issue and a recurring theme. My hunch is that T14 is probably a good idea if you can swing it. Just make sure you thoroughly research the employment outcomes that people are getting from these schools and never totally assume that you are going to be in the top x% for grades/employment outcomes. Good law jobs are a rough go coming from a T2, but then again things aren't all roses at T14 either and it's a lot of money to go. Just do a lot more research and try to think outside the box about how you can get in with employers, because playing a pure school name and numbers game is risky and depressing.

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dibs
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby dibs » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:59 pm

i wonder how many of you have worked for a large corporation and actually know what you are talking about?

the only way i can get into legal counsel within my corporation is to go to law school. the legal counsel in a corporate environment is among the most benefited, prestigious, and well paid segment. it also offers the most opportunity for growth, travel, and excitement to your day. it addition, you don't have billable hours. you are salaried.

corporate law aside, some of the most respectable business development managers and executives have their JD / LL.B. the entire discipline of supply management, which is the be all-end all of a company's bottom line, is tailor made for influence from lawyers and/or those versed in law.
Last edited by dibs on Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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englawyer
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby englawyer » Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:01 pm

i dont think i have ever heard of a company where the legal dept is prestigious; it is usually a support-staff role from what i can tell (ex the in-house counsel at investment banks). usually, the divisions that influence the bottom line directly are the most prestigious (ex software engineers at google, bankers at i-banks, etc). the only business where lawyers are influencing the bottom line are law firms :)

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dibs
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby dibs » Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:02 pm

apparently you haven't worked in the energy sector.

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Grizz
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby Grizz » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:13 pm

dibs wrote:i wonder how many of you have worked for a large corporation and actually know what you are talking about?

the only way i can get into legal counsel within my corporation is to go to law school. the legal counsel in a corporate environment is among the most benefited, prestigious, and well paid segment. it also offers the most opportunity for growth, travel, and excitement to your day. it addition, you don't have billable hours. you are salaried.

corporate law aside, some of the most respectable business development managers and executives have their JD / LL.B. the entire discipline of supply management, which is the be all-end all of a company's bottom line, is tailor made for influence from lawyers and/or those versed in law.


You want to be a legal counsel, aka have a legal job. OP is not sure he wants one. Apples and oranges.

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sayan
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby sayan » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:37 pm

I think a law degree from a top school will do you better than a bachelor degree from a bottom-rung school or having a liberal arts degree from a medium-tier school.

But whether it's beneficial enough to offset the 3-year opportunity cost and tuition... well, that's a tough call.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:39 pm

Go to HLS. Their grads often become leaders of successful businesses. See? That was easy.

mrm2083
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby mrm2083 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:09 pm

What I meant was practicing law forever. My ultimate goal would be in house council to a big corp and then use that to move up to a high position, possibly CEO. I've also heard of lawyers who have gotten stock in companies they work for and made millions as they grew. I guess what I'm saying is my aspirations aren't biglaw -> partner, more like Biglaw -> connections -> work for big corp -> be CEO or in house council -> eventually CEO, etc. Ultimately I want to be a lawyer just not forever, just as there are many doctors that started as doctors and eventually ended up running health care companies, hospitals, etc.

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SteelReserve
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby SteelReserve » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:15 pm

Law school teaches nothing about business, entrepreneurship, anything. Not even in the context of opening a LAW FIRM, let alone any other type of business. It really makes no sense to go to law school if you don't want to become a lawyer. I suppose getting a degree from someplace with the prestige of Harvard would get you a place in the business world but other than that there is just no reason.

You're either an entrepreneur or you're not. Law school is for risk averse people who really don't have much business sense. I know because I'm one of em!

Long story short, go to law school if you want to practice law. Going for any other reason is a huge waste of time, money, opportunity cost, and peace of mind.

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dibs
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby dibs » Wed Mar 31, 2010 1:31 pm

mrm2083 wrote:What I meant was practicing law forever. My ultimate goal would be in house council to a big corp and then use that to move up to a high position, possibly CEO. I've also heard of lawyers who have gotten stock in companies they work for and made millions as they grew. I guess what I'm saying is my aspirations aren't biglaw -> partner, more like Biglaw -> connections -> work for big corp -> be CEO or in house council -> eventually CEO, etc. Ultimately I want to be a lawyer just not forever, just as there are many doctors that started as doctors and eventually ended up running health care companies, hospitals, etc.


i know a corporate lawyer about to retire with $30million in stock options. his firm buddies have nothing but their own savings and investments.

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ggocat
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby ggocat » Wed Mar 31, 2010 1:43 pm

mrm2083 wrote:My ultimate goal would be in house council to a big corp and then use that to move up to a high position, possibly CEO.

I don't know if getting a JD and entering the legal department would do you any better than starting in the mail room and getting your MBA at night.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit but would also like to practice, you might consider starting your own firm. That's a realistic goal, and if you're a good lawyer and a good manager, you can do very well for yourself. By going to your local school on a scholarship, you will also be in a relatively good position financially to start a firm shortly after graduating.

bigben
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Re: Law degree for business

Postby bigben » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:32 pm

dibs wrote:
mrm2083 wrote:What I meant was practicing law forever. My ultimate goal would be in house council to a big corp and then use that to move up to a high position, possibly CEO. I've also heard of lawyers who have gotten stock in companies they work for and made millions as they grew. I guess what I'm saying is my aspirations aren't biglaw -> partner, more like Biglaw -> connections -> work for big corp -> be CEO or in house council -> eventually CEO, etc. Ultimately I want to be a lawyer just not forever, just as there are many doctors that started as doctors and eventually ended up running health care companies, hospitals, etc.


i know a corporate lawyer about to retire with $30million in stock options. his firm buddies have nothing but their own savings and investments.

lol




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