Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Kristina Tsamis shares some career advice for JD/MBAs from a panel discussion hosted by Duke Law in conjunction with other peer law schools.
We spend a lot of time discussing the dismal employment outcomes for JD grads. Things aren’t so rosy for MBA graduates either. To talk about a dual JD/MBA degree in this context seems like a double fail — a one-two punch of more work and potentially more debt in exchange for the same sad outcome.
Enter the panelists of How to Use the JD/MBA Degree in Business and Entrepreneurship: all JD/MBA graduates who touted the usefulness of a dual degree during a discussion hosted by Duke Law in conjunction with other peer law schools. The panelists centered their advice on four main areas: what to focus on while pursuing the dual degree, how to select a good mentor, how to interview well, and how to stop being risk-averse.
1. Maintain the Right Focus as a JD/MBA student
That class in early English case law will leave you painfully ill-equipped for the modern practice of law. But there are some courses you should be paying attention to, both on the JD and MBA side.
In Professor Paul Campos’s new book, Don’t Go To Law School (Unless) (affiliate link) — a book I’d recommend to anyone thinking seriously about law school — he shares an email from an individual who, after much research and thought, decides to enroll in law school. The email sheds some light on why people continue to sign up for law school despite all the warnings (from folks like Professor Campos, my colleague Elie Mystal, and many others). The law student writes:
[Prospective law students] think: debt doesn’t matter. There is no penalty for defaulting on the debt, except the relinquishment of the privileges of an advanced financial life. . . Students evaluating the horrible deal in question believe they have no access anyway to those privileges (e.g. a retirement account, a home purchase, a start-up business). For the student in question, all law school has to do is provide some potential benefit, and it becomes a rational choice.
After acknowledging that “[t]here’s a lot of force in this line of argument,” Professor Campos tries to refute it, basically arguing that many who go to law school based on such reasoning are “making a difficult situation worse.” But maybe the argument is not so easily refuted.
After all, what else are you going to do with yourself? Before you criticize law schools and those who matriculate at them, please familiarize yourself with the grim economic realities of twenty-first century America….
* Who will represent General David Petraeus as he continues to battle the fallout from his scandalous affair with Paula Broadwell? None other than Williams & Connolly partner Robert Barnett, a lawyer for Washington, D.C.’s most elite. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Just in case you weren’t somehow aware, it costs quite a pretty penny to make bankrupt Biglaw firms go away. For example, more than 40 firms have paid off Brobeck, Coudert, Heller, Howrey, and Thelen with settlements of more than $35.5M. [Am Law Daily]
* Hostess and the striking Bakers’ Union have agreed to go to mediation to prevent the company’s wind down. Judge Drain should force feed them delicious Ding Dongs to make them see the error of their ways. [Wall Street Journal]
* “Even without a so-called affirmative-action ban, law schools aren’t doing great in terms of diversity.” That’s probably why admissions officers are so worried about the verdict in Fisher v. Texas. [National Law Journal]
* Sometimes, when people from LSAC deny you extra time on the LSAT, you sit back and deal with it. Other times, you sue their pants off because your dad is a power litigator — and then you settle. [New York Post]
* “This case has nothing to do with the United States.” We’d normally let that slide because of this law from 1789, but now the Supreme Court is suddenly skeptical about the validity of the Alien Tort Claims Act. [Reuters]
* “Why are we being punished for Dewey & LeBoeuf?” Come to think of it, former employees at the failed firm are probably wondering the exact same thing as the fictional characters on “The Good Wife.” [WSJ Law Blog]
* Reduce, reuse, and recycle your claims? New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit against JPMorgan, alleging that the bank’s Bear Sterns business defrauded mortgage-bond investors. [Bloomberg]
* A man of many firsts: Randall Eng, the first Asian judge in the state, was appointed to lead New York’s Second Department as presiding justice, the first Asian-American to serve in the position. [New York Law Journal]
* Why shouldn’t you get a dual JD/MBA? Because hiding out in school for another year isn’t going to save you from all of the extra debt you’ve incurred earning yet another degree. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
Here is Cornell University trying to convince its own graduate students to come back to school and get yet another degree.
Yeah, I know, they are being that bold. It’s like saying, “Okay, OKAY, I know that car we sold you blew up in your face and you lost your hands. But you have got to check out our brand new prosthetic hands.”
Arguably, this is just Cornell’s aggressive new ad campaign for its business school, but they should at least be more discreet. The JD candidates in the class of 2014 don’t even know they’re being bamboozled yet….
* I’m very glad that everybody is now here at the “there’s a huge problem with the market for legal education” party. Can I interest anybody in the “prospective law students are incapable of making a rational choice” punch? It’s spiked with Absolut Special Snowflake and it gives everybody the same deranged sense of self worth as new law student. [Truth on the Market]
* Of course, if you absolutely must go to law school, think outside the box and be ready to take advantage of any opportunity. You are responsible for your own career from day one. [An Associate's Mind]
* Real Wall Street types opine on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. I’m using their input for the screenplay I’m working on, Wall Street: Money Flees America. [Hellerman Baretz]
* Let’s be clear: we need more lawyers. We just need them to work for poor or lower-middle-class clients. Wouldn’t it be awesome if law school tuition came down so that more people could do this work? Otherwise, we might just have to find a way to obviate the need for lawyers altogether. [Truth on the Market]
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