During my senior year of college I made the wise decision to postpone applying to law schools in favor of working for a few years. My plan was to save some money and get some experience, go to a top-tier law school, and work for a large firm doing corporate/ transactional law. Recently, I was accepted at a reputable T1 public law school in my home state with a near half-tuition scholarship. While I am really excited, I’m also very nervous about accepting it. I’m anxious because as I have talked to more and more current and former lawyers, I have found that I may have applied to law schools with a misperception of what the work and a career in law is really like. The attributes of law that originally motivated me to apply were: intellectually stimulating and diverse work, financial reward, job security, and prestige/ connections. What I have found in my conversations and independent research is that most students who join large firms as associates end up spending most of their 80 – 100 hour work weeks (I have no issues with long hours provided that I enjoy the work) doing tedious document review. Although the financial rewards and some degree of prestige are certainly there, many of them burn out and end up crossing over into careers in business after a few years. There is no way that I can know that I would enjoy practicing law as much or more than I would enjoy a career in business, and I’m worried about making a life-changing decision like this one without knowing.
- Is a JD/ MBA worth the added investment of time and money for someone like me who fears that he/ she may not love practicing law enough to spend an entire career doing it? (The law school that I would most likely attend has a top 20/ trans-elite business program as well). I know that many companies are skeptical of joint-degree holders and law firms sometimes view JD/ MBAs as a flight risk.
- How difficult is it for someone to land a solid job in business after several years at a mid to large law firm? The business careers that I am most interested in are: management consulting and I-Banking -> PE. If I went to B-School, I might also consider positions in general management with consumer products companies.
- Assuming that I can achieve a high score on the GMAT (I scored in the high 90th percentile on the SAT and the high 80th to low 90th percentile on the LSAT), would I be a competitive applicant for business schools in one year? What would I need to do to become more competitive? FWIW, I had great extracurricular involvement in college but it has been limited to occasional volunteering since then.
- Recognizing my reservations, do you have a recommendation as to whether I should take the GMAT and pursue both degrees or just get one?
You might want to PM pelihu, he can probably provide the best piece of advice. In the meantime, I'll throw in my 2 cents:
I think you made an excellent decision by delaying your studies and working a few years. I think it's important to work to truly decide what you want to do. As most people say, the satisfaction level of bschool far surpasses that of law school. And one of the main contributors is that students go to law school b/c they don't know what else to do.
With that said, you should NOT go to law school unless you want to practice law. Sure, you hear of all these CEO's and consultants and IBers who all have JD's, but they're more the exception than the rule. Again, I can't emphasize enough, you go to law school to practice law. And don't have dreams of grandeur, where you're sitting on a high throne judging the arguments of lawyers in front of you. That's waaaaay down the road, if at all.
A lot of the lawyers who want to crossover realize a few things: They work just as hard as IBers, are usually just as smart, if not smarter (if they have the quant aptitude), but get paid way less than the people they are working for. I guess the trade-off would be job security.
Although a JD/MBA is impressive, one degree won't help your career with the other degree. Getting one degree is good enough to pursue the career in that respective field. I wouldn't get the additional degree as a back up. It doesn't make much sense, especially if getting a joint degree will hinder your chances of getting one great degree.
And no, a JD/MBA won't open any more doors that a JD can for law and an MBA can for business.