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JD good for business professionals? Appreciate your thoughts.

offerofferofferoffer Legacy Member
in General 16 karma
Hey all,

I work in a business development role (partnerships, strategic relationships, sales, dealing with government red tape). I love getting people on board, convincing, solving problems, promoting ideas. I like the fast pace. I’m not looking for a career change. However, I’ve been looking at more education/credentials and I’ve not really been clear what exactly is the best fit based on what I do.

Some people tell me a JD is just for people who will be lawyers. However, I see some (not many) JDs leading corporations and nonprofits in many fields. Were their credentials on the right trek or was this just some early career confusion?

I’m leaning against joint JD/MBA simply because of the extended time commitment/break.

Appreciate your thoughts. Thank you in advance

Comments

  • offerofferofferoffer Legacy Member
    16 karma
    And i realize lawyers are business professionals :) I meant *other* types of business professionals
  • allergicallergic Alum Member Inactive Sage
    246 karma
    I would not recommend going to law school if you're not planning to be a lawyer.
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    Only go to law school if your calling is to be an attorney. The days of JD advantage outweighing the extreme cost of law school have passed.
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @offeroffer said:
    Were their credentials on the right trek or was this just some early career confusion?
    I would guess that in many (most?) cases, folks realized they could work less and make more as C-suite whatever than they would as attorneys (or they didn't make partner and lateralled out into non attorney roles; or, were corporate counsel and switched to non-attorney roles).
  • noobie1noobie1 Legacy Member
    266 karma
    I would recommend against going to law school in your situation. I don't think a JD would open many if any new doors for you. A law degree isn't what it was 10-15 years. In some circles, it actually makes you less marketable (e.g., patent prosecution) because non JDs can do the same work at much cheaper cost. Sounds like you might be better served to get an MBA or stay in your current role. If you look at executive leadership teams, there's usually room for just one JD.
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Law school would likely be extra miserable for you. If you're insistent upon getting a JD I would go with a 3-year JD/MBA program to make sure you still have an MBA to lean on and get it all over with in the same amount of time as law school would take.

    That being said, given that you don't mention much in the way of working in the legal side of the business world already or in the future I just really don't see it adding much value to what you're doing or want to do. I have no qualms with taking JD advantage jobs out of law school, but in your case you're already working in your area of interest. Would a JD serve you better than 3 more years progressing in your field? If it would then it might be a good call. But if you can get ahead more through your work then I think that's the better way to go.
  • pritisharmapritisharma Alum Member
    edited January 2016 477 karma
    Let me ask you : why would one do a 3 year JD instead of a 2 year MBA if one were interested in mgmt roles in their current field ? Also JD/MBA seems to be a good option but that would mean separate admission into both programs. Last I checked only a couple schools accepted LSAT scores for MBA admissions. So the options were either to get admission into one program and then take GMAT or take both GMAT and LSAT upfront and apply into both programs at a school simultaneously and that would mean one would need to be accepted at both independently.
  • lsathopefullsathopeful Alum Member
    263 karma
    Hey,

    I know you didn't specifically mention entrepreneurship, but this may be helpful: https://www.quora.com/Is-a-law-degree-valuable-for-entrepreneurs
  • noobie1noobie1 Legacy Member
    266 karma
    I think OP's situation is rather unique because he has no intention of practicing law. I would not take a JD who has never practice law seriously. The divide between real world experience and law school education is huge. You don't really learn how to practice law until you're at your first legal job.
  • stepharizonastepharizona Alum Member
    3197 karma
    The only professional field where I know a JD can enhance your career is in VP level (Director level at a nonprofit) or higher Human Resources.

    Many high ranking HR professionals also have JDs. Often it's in the job description, or is an unlisted qualification.

    I plan to practice law, but I already have a position waiting for me with an HR consulting firm that specializes in investigations and expert testimony once I graduate, but that's mainly because everyone else in the firm has a JD and although I have the work experience (20 years in HR) they market their firm as certified HR pros with JDs.

    I think there might be a handful of jobs where the JD would be helpful if you aren't going to practice, but HR is the one I'm most familiar with.

  • Q.E.DQ.E.D Alum Member
    edited January 2016 556 karma
    I don't think OP's suggestion is so easily dismissed. I've come across many managers, directors, VPs, executives and entrepreneurs with JDs. A legal background is also particularly handy at the executive level, where you're constantly negotiating contracts, acquiring entities, managing assets, navigating regulatory constraints and fighting off litigants. I also know, as a sometime hiring manager, that MBAs are rubbish, professionally and academically. That said, the tuition and commitment of law school may not make sense for most. Still, if you like law and you can score high enough on the LSAT to get a free lunch, you might want to consider it.

    edit: def not suggesting they got where they did for having JDs qua JDs. I mean they weren't excluded from leadership roles for not having respectable graduate degrees. JDs qua graduate degrees are manifestly respectable, so they have some utility where MBAs are fast losing it, esp. since your specific academic background won't matter outside some special fields. Just wanted to clarify after reading some good points below. I can also see it as a disadvantage for junior or entry-level applicants with little or no other skills/experience.
  • Accounts PlayableAccounts Playable Alum Sage
    3107 karma
    I might be able to shed a little light on this too. I am a CPA, and I decided to go to law school because I want to be a tax attorney (tax judge ideally). I also have a masters of science in accounting and tax (which was sort of like an MBA, although not quite). The biggest thing you have to decide is to look at your opportunity cost. It's true that with a good LSAT score (and presumably a good GPA), you can go almost anywhere you want, and many places might give you a free ride.

    Nevertheless, law school is 3 years, and that's 3 years that you aren't in your business professional role. You have to weigh the forgone salary, potential hit to your network (if any), etc. against what you expect to get out of a JD. Additionally, if you aren't intending to practice, it's hard to see how that adds value to your career in the short run (the long term is much foggier). In fact, I listened to a podcast (can't remember which one unfortunately) that had a Georgetown (I think) law professor say that many of his students don't even put their JD on their resume because it makes them appear "overqualified" in the business world.

    It seems as if you really like what you do and that you are good at it (which is an extremely valuable asset to have). I don't believe anyone should rush their decision to get a JD (or an MBA for that matter); I'd take a while to really think about if it's worth it for you; law school isn't going anywhere. Try talking to some of the JDs that you have seen that work in the positions you want to see yourself in. Many of the CEOs and CFOs and other people in top positions at firms that I have talked to got to where they are independent of having a JD.
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @"Accounts Playable" said:
    Nevertheless, law school is 3 years, and that's 3 years that you aren't in your business professional role. You have to weigh the forgone salary, potential hit to your network (if any), etc. against what you expect to get out of a JD.
    Super good points.

    @"Accounts Playable" said:
    In fact, I listened to a podcast (can't remember which one unfortunately) that had a Georgetown (I think) law professor say that many of his students don't even put their JD on their resume because it makes them appear "overqualified" in the business world.

    Yikes.


    @"Accounts Playable" said:
    Many of the CEOs and CFOs and other people in top positions at firms that I have talked to got to where they are independent of having a JD.
    And many of them got JD's 10-15 years ago or long.

    Apples/apples consideration would likely entail talking to post-downturn JD-advantage types and seeing how that's working out for them. My guess is that most of them seriously regret law school.
  • smg0011smg0011 Legacy Member
    edited January 2016 20 karma
    You should really think about the cost of debt when looking at degrees. Yes, there are many C-level officers with JDs running around.

    I have an MBA from an SEC school. It was very useful for me. However this stuff is what you make of it.

    Nicole's advice above regarding the JD advantage is true. I know several law students who were 1Ls in 2010. Some of them are practicing. While there are others who never used the JD.

    Your real question is what debt can I afford and is it worth it.

    I'd really look at it from the debt perspective. 2K in loans a month is overwhelming.
  • smg0011smg0011 Legacy Member
    edited January 2016 20 karma
    Also, there is ample commentary in the blogosphere regarding the JD putting people at a disadvantage for being over qualified for their position. Non-lawyers can view JDs as: "why do you want to work here when you could be counting your money piles in your law office." There is a high degree of confusion regarding the legal profession when it comes to public perception. e.g. the phrase "be a doctor or a lawyer" The two professions are not commensurate in terms of financial outcomes for average graduates from their respective professional schools. Lawyers realize this but the average businessman does not. Law school transparency is a good website to start at to answer your question.
  • lsatingslsatings Alum Member
    349 karma
    @offeroffer said:
    Were their credentials on the right trek or was this just some early career confusion?
    I can't speak for everyone but I do know from one of my old coworkers that he had planned on getting a JD/MBA because it would essentially allow him to assume any role at the company he was working. I'm not sure how reliable that information is, but thats just what I've heard from others who have these degrees and are working in the capacity you are discussing.
  • noobie1noobie1 Legacy Member
    266 karma
    To summarize, getting a JD probably does not increase your earning potential unless you practice law. For many non-lawyer positions, JD's are viewed as overqualified. Some JD's go on to non-JD leadership roles for companies but they usually have substantial experience practicing law and moved up within the legal department.
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @noobie1 said:
    To summarize, getting a JD probably does not increase your earning potential unless you practice law. For many non-lawyer positions, JD's are viewed as overqualified. Some JD's go on to non-JD leadership roles for companies but they usually have substantial experience practicing law and moved up within the legal department.
    Nice summary :D
  • NYC12345NYC12345 Alum Inactive Sage
    1654 karma
    @"Nicole Hopkins" said:
    @"Accounts Playable" said:
    Many of the CEOs and CFOs and other people in top positions at firms that I have talked to got to where they are independent of having a JD.
    And many of them got JD's 10-15 years ago or long.

    It's not a good idea to look at people like Lloyd Blankfein or David Rubinstein and conclude that getting a JD will put you in a similar position. Remember, they are the exception, not the rule. That's like pointing to a high school dropout who runs several successful businesses and concluding that dropping out of high school is potentially a good idea. Just my two cents, fwiw.
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @alexandergreene93 said:
    It's not a good idea to look at people like Lloyd Blankfein or David Rubinstein and conclude that getting a JD will put you in a similar position.
    Causation/correlation!
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