Question about legal vs. business careers

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PrelawSteve
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Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby PrelawSteve » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:01 am

ello,

I am the paralegal who wrote quite recently about how I am considering working in my wealthy cousins business for about half a decade to earn enough to pay cash for law school. I recently realized that if I excel at working for him in his business, I will also have the cash and soft's to get into a decent MBA program. I have had some exposure to the legal world via my work as a paralegal and some indirect exposure to business via knowing my cousin and having a friend is very successful at business( I have not yet worked formally in the business world). Since I have some heroes in both the legal and business world, I am town between a law or business career. My questions are the following:

1. What are the pros and cons of legal careers versus business careers?

2. What type would do better in law vs. business?

3. Which career has a better risk-reward ratio, short term and long term?

Any thoughts would be tremendously appreciated.

Thanks

ran12
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Re: Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby ran12 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:57 am

Business has the potential for a much bigger payoff compared to law. They're both going to be long hours if you're doing it right and you basically have your client's life in your hands. Since you're interested in business and law, you might be interested in i-banking and corporate law. Corporate lawyers who work at banks basically do many of the same things the i-bankers do but get paid a whole lot less and end up working longer hours. Law on the other hand, can potentially be a much more steady career.

Both law and business tends to have type A personalities dominating. You need to have a certain confidence and to an extent ego to be successful. It goes without saying that for business, you should be quantitatively inclined whereas in law, logic matters more. However math and logic come from similar foundations so it's not as if a successful businessman or lawyer doesn't have the potential to be successful in the other field. Creativity will matter in both because you need to find the most effective solution in different situations.

It's difficult to say which career has the better risk-reward. In the short term, it's definitely business because of the potential earnings as well as the fact that a top MBA is worth more than most degrees and 2 years of education is cheaper than 3. Five years in, it's ridiculous how much more money top MBAs make compared to top JDs. Long term, it's probably law because often, the most lucrative business positions tend to burn people out and because of the constant fluctuations in the economy and unpredictable swings, job security is far from stable. One day you're on top of the world, the next you're out of a job with mountains of debt b/c you borrowed against perceived future earnings. In law, even in bad times, if you have a good amount of experience, you're likely to be able to make a living. It's a whole lot easier practicing solo in law than trying to start your own business.

If I were you, I would work a few years in business with your cousin then go to a good law school. The experience in business you have will be an advantage when you're looking for legal jobs and it's infinitely easier to go into business with a JD than to go into legal with a MBA. There are firms made up exclusively of MBAs who deal with M&As, leveraging, etc. They basically act as the main consultant for companies while using lawyers to finalize contracts.

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chem
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Re: Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby chem » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:59 am

ran12 wrote:Business has the potential for a much bigger payoff compared to law. They're both going to be long hours if you're doing it right and you basically have your client's life in your hands. Since you're interested in business and law, you might be interested in i-banking and corporate law. Corporate lawyers who work at banks basically do many of the same things the i-bankers do but get paid a whole lot less and end up working longer hours. Law on the other hand, can potentially be a much more steady career.

Both law and business tends to have type A personalities dominating. You need to have a certain confidence and to an extent ego to be successful. It goes without saying that for business, you should be quantitatively inclined whereas in law, logic matters more. However math and logic come from similar foundations so it's not as if a successful businessman or lawyer doesn't have the potential to be successful in the other field. Creativity will matter in both because you need to find the most effective solution in different situations.

It's difficult to say which career has the better risk-reward. In the short term, it's definitely business because of the potential earnings as well as the fact that a top MBA is worth more than most degrees and 2 years of education is cheaper than 3. Five years in, it's ridiculous how much more money top MBAs make compared to top JDs. Long term, it's probably law because often, the most lucrative business positions tend to burn people out and because of the constant fluctuations in the economy and unpredictable swings, job security is far from stable. One day you're on top of the world, the next you're out of a job with mountains of debt b/c you borrowed against perceived future earnings. In law, even in bad times, if you have a good amount of experience, you're likely to be able to make a living. It's a whole lot easier practicing solo in law than trying to start your own business.

If I were you, I would work a few years in business with your cousin then go to a good law school. The experience in business you have will be an advantage when you're looking for legal jobs and it's infinitely easier to go into business with a JD than to go into legal with a MBA. There are firms made up exclusively of MBAs who deal with M&As, leveraging, etc. They basically act as the main consultant for companies while using lawyers to finalize contracts.


+1. If you really want business, there are JD/MBA programs too, but if you choose that path, you need a set plan, because some firms see the JD/MBA as a flight risk

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englawyer
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Re: Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby englawyer » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:13 pm

whats ur u-grad gpa? how's your standardized testing? how prestigious was your u-grad? what will your experience be like at the company?

Top law school: Pretty good chance of getting law firm job starting 160k. Once you get in there, you will probably go up in salary and will be able to stay at that range or above for as long as you like.

Top b-school: Reasonable chance of banking as a "career switcher". Will have to hustle for a banking job though, more so than you would for a firm job from a top law school. More risk in that career path, but more upside reward if you make it. Could also do mgmt consulting which is similar hours/compensation to law, but with more travel and different exit options. Worst case scenario is probably low six figures at some generic big company with reasonable upward potential (like entry lvl manager or something).

Mediocre law school (< T14) : Lower chance of getting the 160k law firm job (sliding scale). Likely scenario is smaller law firms or something paying 40k.

Mediocre b-school: Very small chance at banking/consulting. More likely to end up in the high five-figures or low six-figures at some generic big company.

Personality wise, I agree both are type-A but there is significant variance within type-A. Lawyers are stereo-typically more detail-oriented, introverted, and risk averse. That said, law firms tend to value people that go against that grain and are outgoing etc. to become rainmaker partners. so in that sense, it might be easier to stand out as outgoing/personable at a law firm instead of a bank where that type of personality is par for the course.

PrelawSteve
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Re: Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby PrelawSteve » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:31 pm

In reference to my educational stats and what I will be doing at the company:


I will be looking for moderately larger than mom and pop business’s for my cousin to purchase. These will be mostly low tech blue-collarish businesses ( can’t say the exact industry) such as limo companies, funeral homes, independent pizza chains with four to nine shops, etc.

He built part of his fortune by consolidating several mom and pop industries within his region of the state where he is.


I will not make the final decision or do the bulk of the dealmaking (NOT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE FOR THAT). My responsibility will be doing the initial find, basic due diligence ( researching complaints and history, driving around the area of the business to get a feel for how it fits into the neighborhood, etc) and making the initial cold call. Although, I will get to tag along occasionally to watch him or his senior flunkies deal or sit in with his lawyer and accountants, I will primarily be driving (or googling) around for opportunities and convincing these mom and pops to let us make an offer.

I will be mentored by one of his sons (who unlike me will get to actually inherit the company) who will be moving away from this role to actually cutting some deals himself within the next year.

To sum up, I will basically be a scout/pathfinder for his game of buying businesses that are small compared to big companies, but dominate the town or sub-county that they are located in.

I will be part of a team of several scouts.

My u-grad GPA was around 3.5. I have not taken the LSAT or GMAT yet, but scored 1410 on the Sat (old 1600 scale). I went to a state school. Although, that score might have qualified me for a non HYP Ivy, I didn’t have a good enough high school record. In High school I was a stereotypical rebel and troublemaker.


Since I got a good SAT score, I have a good shot of doing well on the GMAT.

How would the above educational record (assuming a GMAT or LSAT score similar to Sat score) combined with my current job as a government paralegal, along with my upcoming job (described above) affect my chances of a top Law school or MBA program?

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crossarmant
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Re: Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby crossarmant » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:57 pm

ran12 wrote:It's difficult to say which career has the better risk-reward. In the short term, it's definitely business because of the potential earnings as well as the fact that a top MBA is worth more than most degrees and 2 years of education is cheaper than 3. Five years in, it's ridiculous how much more money top MBAs make compared to top JDs. Long term, it's probably law because often, the most lucrative business positions tend to burn people out and because of the constant fluctuations in the economy and unpredictable swings, job security is far from stable. One day you're on top of the world, the next you're out of a job with mountains of debt b/c you borrowed against perceived future earnings. In law, even in bad times, if you have a good amount of experience, you're likely to be able to make a living. It's a whole lot easier practicing solo in law than trying to start your own business.

If I were you, I would work a few years in business with your cousin then go to a good law school. The experience in business you have will be an advantage when you're looking for legal jobs and it's infinitely easier to go into business with a JD than to go into legal with a MBA. There are firms made up exclusively of MBAs who deal with M&As, leveraging, etc. They basically act as the main consultant for companies while using lawyers to finalize contracts.


Everytime I think of young guns in the 20s making a slew from B-School I think of American Psycho. So much ego and prestige, then eventually you crack and try to feed a cat to an atm.

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englawyer
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Re: Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby englawyer » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:53 pm

for a top law school, your background won't matter all that much (you probably realize this). its mostly GPA/LSAT. a 3.5 will preclude you from the elite elite law schools (HYS) but you could be in the running elsewhere depending on LSAT.

for top business schools, your gpa is perfectly fine and you will probably do good enough on the gmat. It will come down to the rest of your app package. i don't think your anticipated background will get you into the tippity top programs (M7 or whatever). just because they only take a limited number of "startup" applicants (they separate applicants into bins: MC, banking, engineering, startup, etc. then you compete against your bin), and you might end up compared to people from VC-funded companies that are building new products and stuff. I am not saying you are categorically out (I am no expert on MBA admissions) but you will have to talk to MBA admissions consultants to see how competitive that background would be.

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NeighborGuy
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Re: Question about legal vs. business careers

Postby NeighborGuy » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:08 am

If you have the chance to basically do a paid apprenticeship with someone who is legitimately successful in the business world, for chrissake DO IT. Half a decade with him would be infinitely more valuable than any degree on the planet. Take your cousin up on his offer. Like now. Call him NOW.




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