Jump to content
mazzystar

Getting An MBA while Working in Law?

Recommended Posts

4 hours ago, mazzystar said:

 The few lawyers I have talked to from Toronto sort of shut-down or demonstrate a very narrow, parochial view. 

Have you talked with energy lawyers, for instance? My firm has many energy lawyers who are extremely passionate about the subject. Maybe you're knocking on the wrong doors. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, CoffeeandLaw said:

Have you talked with energy lawyers, for instance? My firm has many energy lawyers who are extremely passionate about the subject. Maybe you're knocking on the wrong doors. 

Not many but I can see interest from an energy law perspective. This is a good idea though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/5/2019 at 8:51 PM, CoffeeandLaw said:

Have you talked with energy lawyers, for instance? My firm has many energy lawyers who are extremely passionate about the subject. Maybe you're knocking on the wrong doors. 

Probably out of the loop, but I'm assuming coffee law is some new branch of energy law?🙂

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just my two cents regarding the public policy route you have mentioned and the possibility of working in the public service. 

I will be attending Osgoode Hall Fall 2020, but I have been working as a Senior policy analyst at Justice for the last few years. If you are looking for inspirational work and a lack of hierarchical structures, you won't find it in the public service. This has been my experience in several Federal departments, and aside from the allure of golden handcuffs, many of my colleagues are left wanting more on a regular basis, this includes the lawyers I have had to work with.   

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My $0.02.

@mazzystar - You want to change the world and you're seeing that with the average legal career, you'll likely end up shoe-horned into a trajectory that severely limits your opportunities to do just that.

Your instincts aren't wrong per se, but to be fair this tendency applies to most if not all of the other areas you've considered.

In my experience, being a professional isn't about disrupting the very structures that have made your profession possible/necessary. Even the professions that have as their goal the improvement/replacement of said structures tend to be incrementalist in their ambitions. If you don't have the patience for that, policy work with the gov't for example - which would check a lot of your boxes, will be endlessly frustrating.

But I get it.

MBA's feel more expansive and open than the law because, well what's the average MBA grad look like? They certainly seem more varied and entrepreneurial than lawyers.

I think your existential discontent is more about how you affect change rather than whether you'll be able to affect change as a lawyer. Because it's obviously ludicrous to imply that a law degree precludes the sort of activist work you're hinting at. As others have pointed out, some of the foremost thought leaders tackling political and socio-economic issues have legal backgrounds. But these tend to be much more so the exception, than the rule. 

Anyway, I have a friend who sounds a lot like you. Smart. Ambitious.  Socially conscious to a very high degree. He found, as I think you will, that trying to parlay that activist ethos into a specific career is by default challenging because most legal employers aren't in need an activist lawyer.

Neither are most businesses for their MBA's.

So, your options are either to find an employer who's already doing all the things you want to do and find out how you can add value (legal or otherwise), or to create an organization that does exactly what you're talking about. That is where your MBA idea really takes off IMO.

I'm not going to weigh in on whether it's realistic, or even a good idea because I don't know your situation, but I will concede that it is ambitious. And maybe what we need is more smart, ambitious people to be willing to step outside the traditional confines of their profession and try to do something ... exceptional.

And btw, my friend ... the smart, ambitious, socially conscious one, he got an MBA.

 

Disclaimer: I realize my ending makes my entire post read like a fluff piece, but I find that cold pragmatism only gets the human spirit so far. Sometimes it's more useful to dream, and then marry that dream to pragmatic considerations and ultimately action. I think OP has a dream ... I'm going to stop here before I get myself into trouble. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure about MBAs but I came from a pretty strong undergrad Business program and I found people in law school to be much more idealistic and have a change-the-world mentality. Most of my business school peers just wanted to make money (which is not a bad goal, just stating my perception). A lot of them are entrepreneurial but I don't think it's to effect social change more than it is to achieve financial independence and success.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Aschenbach said:

Not sure about MBAs but I came from a pretty strong undergrad Business program and I found people in law school to be much more idealistic and have a change-the-world mentality. Most of my business school peers just wanted to make money (which is not a bad goal, just stating my perception). A lot of them are entrepreneurial but I don't think it's to effect social change more than it is to achieve financial independence and success.

 

Agreed with this but MBAs these days aren't necessarily regulated to just working within finance or conventional businesses. There is a rise in the idea of the social entrepreneur for example, and MBAs do teach a lot of skills which can be applied to a variety of organizations, all with different outlooks.

19 hours ago, TheAEGIS said:

My $0.02.

@mazzystar - You want to change the world and you're seeing that with the average legal career, you'll likely end up shoe-horned into a trajectory that severely limits your opportunities to do just that.

Your instincts aren't wrong per se, but to be fair this tendency applies to most if not all of the other areas you've considered.

In my experience, being a professional isn't about disrupting the very structures that have made your profession possible/necessary. Even the professions that have as their goal the improvement/replacement of said structures tend to be incrementalist in their ambitions. If you don't have the patience for that, policy work with the gov't for example - which would check a lot of your boxes, will be endlessly frustrating.

But I get it.

MBA's feel more expansive and open than the law because, well what's the average MBA grad look like? They certainly seem more varied and entrepreneurial than lawyers.

I think your existential discontent is more about how you affect change rather than whether you'll be able to affect change as a lawyer. Because it's obviously ludicrous to imply that a law degree precludes the sort of activist work you're hinting at. As others have pointed out, some of the foremost thought leaders tackling political and socio-economic issues have legal backgrounds. But these tend to be much more so the exception, than the rule. 

Anyway, I have a friend who sounds a lot like you. Smart. Ambitious.  Socially conscious to a very high degree. He found, as I think you will, that trying to parlay that activist ethos into a specific career is by default challenging because most legal employers aren't in need an activist lawyer.

Neither are most businesses for their MBA's.

So, your options are either to find an employer who's already doing all the things you want to do and find out how you can add value (legal or otherwise), or to create an organization that does exactly what you're talking about. That is where your MBA idea really takes off IMO.

I'm not going to weigh in on whether it's realistic, or even a good idea because I don't know your situation, but I will concede that it is ambitious. And maybe what we need is more smart, ambitious people to be willing to step outside the traditional confines of their profession and try to do something ... exceptional.

And btw, my friend ... the smart, ambitious, socially conscious one, he got an MBA.

 

Disclaimer: I realize my ending makes my entire post read like a fluff piece, but I find that cold pragmatism only gets the human spirit so far. Sometimes it's more useful to dream, and then marry that dream to pragmatic considerations and ultimately action. I think OP has a dream ... I'm going to stop here before I get myself into trouble. 

Agreed on all these points. I am not so much in the business of needing to change the world, its going to continue rotating, indifferent to us. My interest is whether there is suitable space involved working a conventional law career for the type of work I'd like to do.

There likely is, but I am getting a sense that a law career often pigeonholes one to one side of the picture. I don't often see people in the roles that I am interested have JDs but some will have an MBA. Just an example is a job I had in a company that was scaling in the past where the seniormost inhouse lawyer still did not sit on the directors table. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Aschenbach said:

Not sure about MBAs but I came from a pretty strong undergrad Business program and I found people in law school to be much more idealistic and have a change-the-world mentality. Most of my business school peers just wanted to make money (which is not a bad goal, just stating my perception). A lot of them are entrepreneurial but I don't think it's to effect social change more than it is to achieve financial independence and success.

 

but how many of those remain idealistic and retain the change-the-world mentality? (and maybe it's a tiny bit unfair to compare 18-21 yr old undergrad biz students to a slightly older, more mature law school crowd). Most of my friends who went to law school went in with this change-the-world mentality, had some experience in clinics, but eventually ended up on or near Bay St. where they are doing a lot to change the world (by helping to bring in $$$ to the firm/partners). I don't blame them, I'd probably have been pushed to do the same with >$100k debt around my neck. As much as I don't care for MBAs when I creep people on linkedin I see them in tech start-ups, social stuff, so many different areas. With a law degree, you article, you get called, you get a job at a law firm.. most of the time. No? I can relate to the OP and would also like to know. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, levin said:

but how many of those remain idealistic and retain the change-the-world mentality? (and maybe it's a tiny bit unfair to compare 18-21 yr old undergrad biz students to a slightly older, more mature law school crowd). Most of my friends who went to law school went in with this change-the-world mentality, had some experience in clinics, but eventually ended up on or near Bay St. where they are doing a lot to change the world (by helping to bring in $$$ to the firm/partners). I don't blame them, I'd probably have been pushed to do the same with >$100k debt around my neck. As much as I don't care for MBAs when I creep people on linkedin I see them in tech start-ups, social stuff, so many different areas. With a law degree, you article, you get called, you get a job at a law firm.. most of the time. No? I can relate to the OP and would also like to know. 

I don't know what gave anyone the idea that entrepreneurship and social enterprise are somehow the same thing. A very small subset of smaller and start-up businesses can reasonably be described as anything like social entreprise. You can potentially get rich starting the next uber eats. Not denying that can theoretically happen. But to describe starting the next uber eats as somehow contributing to the improvement of society, over and beyond simply lining your own pockets, is a stretch.

I don't know what sort of metric I'd apply to measure what percentage of any particular profession is engaged in socially progressive work. But I'm happy to assert that there is a very sizable percentage of the legal profession that's doing so. Look, here's one very specific example from my own experience. I do criminal defence. The Criminal Lawyers' Association is having a fall conference in just a week. There are 700 spots and the thing is almost sold out. It will be full - always is. Here's a link to the agenda:

https://criminallawyers.ca/events/47th-annual-cla-fall-conference/

So, what's here? On a quick scan, panel on impaired (not too progressive), sexual assault (hot button topic, if nothing else), prison conditions (pretty progressive), cultural reports for black clients (check!), representing Aboriginal clients (check!), some other technical stuff, etc. And that's day one.

This will be a room full of 700 lawyers learning this stuff. You can't tell me this is somehow a small fraction of the profession. And this is only criminal defence, and only one conference. You think family lawyers, immigration lawyers, etc. don't also do progressive work much of the time?

Here's my take. Absolutely I've seen a lot of people head into law school making grandiose claims about saving the world and then ending up where they do jack shit all about it. And some of them bitch and moan about how they were never given the choice and had to settle for making good money helping corporations make tons more money than that. And that's bullshit. Of all the people in any profession who talk a good game at the start, how many do you think stay committed to saving the world, or even doing hard, socially progressive work when they could be making easier money doing something else? Not a lot, I'd wager, in any field.

Really, this gets to the heart of my concern about Mazzy as the OP, and a concern I'd have for anyone coming here with similar complaints. Maybe she doesn't belong in law. Maybe she'd do better with a MBA - I'm in no position to know. But when someone says "I want to be creative, do interesting work, do progressive work, contributing to bettering society, and on top of that make at least decent money doing it" I think "okay, that's possible, and I feel I know many people who are doing that." When they add the criticism about how they feel the path isn't easy or well laid out for them in law and so they are going elsewhere I think "fuck, you're screwed." Because it isn't well laid out anywhere. The easy paths, the easy jobs, the easiest money all lead to the same mainstream shit. I mean honestly, is that so hard to predict? You want to do things differently but you're shocked that the shortest, straightest, easiest paths lead to things that aren't different?

That's my take. It isn't only law. If you hold on to your dreams, and make the necessary sacrifices along the way, you can do a hell of a lot of good with a law degree. I'm sure you can also do a hell of a lot of good outside of law also. But in neither case are you going to find it easy. And people who give up because it isn't easy, and then claim they were somehow prevented from doing the good work they pretend they were committed to before they were somehow forced to work for "the man" instead - yeah. I understand the world comes with choices. But quite honestly, the people I knew when I was younger who really had their shit together are still doing it. The people who thought that being progressive was easy, and someone would throw them a parade just for showing up...they're all doing other things now. And it's not hard to see why.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, levin said:

but how many of those remain idealistic and retain the change-the-world mentality? (and maybe it's a tiny bit unfair to compare 18-21 yr old undergrad biz students to a slightly older, more mature law school crowd). Most of my friends who went to law school went in with this change-the-world mentality, had some experience in clinics, but eventually ended up on or near Bay St. where they are doing a lot to change the world (by helping to bring in $$$ to the firm/partners). I don't blame them, I'd probably have been pushed to do the same with >$100k debt around my neck. As much as I don't care for MBAs when I creep people on linkedin I see them in tech start-ups, social stuff, so many different areas. With a law degree, you article, you get called, you get a job at a law firm.. most of the time. No? I can relate to the OP and would also like to know. 

I concede that my view may be limited as a fresh 1L as opposed to a jaded ex-business student with a few years of work experience. In my view, other than corporate, law in its very nature seems to have a greater impact on people's lives. Off the top of my head, criminal defense (and maybe prosecution?), family, immigration, health law and any public policy work impact people on a very direct level. Maybe it doesn't change the world per se but it affects people's lives in a very meaningful way and incrementally it shapes society.

While business schools teach social responsibility and ethics, you're still looking to maximize profits at the end of the day. At least when I was in business school, the former always felt like a side consideration and a requirement to sustain long-term profits. And the pressure to go into corporate finance and national firms doesn't go away; tuition isn't cheap and entrepreneurial gigs are hard to find, uncertain, and often don't pay that well in the beginning. The top students often still go for the national accounting, finance, marketing firm route. I'm not saying that you CAN'T effect change by going to business school, you absolutely can. But the environment isn't as socially progressive and entrepreneurial as it's made out here, you'll still be going against the grain and it's not an easy or certain path.

 

Edited by Aschenbach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/5/2019 at 11:23 AM, Malicious Prosecutor said:

 

So @mazzystar please no offense is intended, but you're kind of all over the map here.  You maybe want to do an MBA and do management consulting, but that doesn't really mesh with wanting to effect social change.  You also mention working in law enforcement, which doesn't particularly mesh with doing an MBA.

Of course as a Crown I deal with a lot of enforcement agencies.  Primarily police of course, but I've dealt with Fish & Wildlife, Commercial Vehicles, CBSA, railway cops, Corrections, Sheriffs... you name it.  ANd I've had a lot of really positive interactions with those officers.

But I do want you to know - I don't think a law degree is going to be highly valued in most enforcement agencies.  That's different from saying a law degree wouldn't be useful in doing law enforcement - I think it would be.  But based on conversations with people that had law degrees and worked in law enforcement, I don't think their superiors valued that particular combination.

Also of course law enforcement is incredibly hierarchical! There are ranks, uniforms, the whole nine yards.

Law enforcement is however a very rewarding career in terms of being able to make a difference to real people.  It also has good if not stellar pay, good benefits, and for police in particular you're able to retire quite early and still pursue other interests.

So, You're so all over I don't know that I can give you any general advice about what to do, whether to continue or drop out, or what path to pursue if you do.  But I thought I would pass on this information about law enforcement careers.

I'd have to disagree with you on the bolded point MP just based on my own experience.  I'm sure there are police forces out there that wouldn't highly value the law degree, but it's made a huge difference for me with my agency.  There's actually quite a few of us in my force that are both lawyers and cops and each has forged great career paths for themselves.  Most are the superiors you referred to.  

I do completely agree re your points about the rewarding career though. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Stark said:

I'd have to disagree with you on the bolded point MP just based on my own experience.  I'm sure there are police forces out there that wouldn't highly value the law degree, but it's made a huge difference for me with my agency.  There's actually quite a few of us in my force that are both lawyers and cops and each has forged great career paths for themselves.  Most are the superiors you referred to.  

I do completely agree re your points about the rewarding career though. 

Well...

On the one hand I did say "most".  I do not speak from personal experience, but rather from speaking with a small handful of people with combined law enforcement / law degree experience.  It may well be that for some people it winds up being a powerful and positive combination.

On the other hand it kind of sounds like you're agreeing with me in many situations (even if not all)?

But anyways - to the OP - you can't assume that law enforcement will take you in with open arms just because you have a law degree.  Maybe they will, maybe they won't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Malicious Prosecutor said:

Well...

On the one hand I did say "most".  I do not speak from personal experience, but rather from speaking with a small handful of people with combined law enforcement / law degree experience.  It may well be that for some people it winds up being a powerful and positive combination.

On the other hand it kind of sounds like you're agreeing with me in many situations (even if not all)?

But anyways - to the OP - you can't assume that law enforcement will take you in with open arms just because you have a law degree.  Maybe they will, maybe they won't.

True enough. You won’t get in simply because of a law degree 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/8/2019 at 1:19 PM, TheAEGIS said:

 

@mazzystar

And btw, my friend ... the smart, ambitious, socially conscious one, he got an MBA.

edit: Looked into this and realized that my friend actually got an MBET from Waterloo. I thought it was a subset of an MBA program, but it's its own thing and maybe something the OP might be interested in?

https://uwaterloo.ca/conrad-school-entrepreneurship-business/what-makes-mbet-different1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/4/2019 at 6:17 PM, mazzystar said:

So I am a 2L increasingly jaded by the idea of working in law and how static the field is. Don't get me wrong, I like law school and I love listening to my professors discuss realworld issues, but my courses don't fit with my generalist/flexible learning style, dislike how outdated everything feels in terms of teaching philosophy and the artificial difficulty they place (e.g. make things unnecessarily less efficient etc).

I am further jaded by the career progression system, the unhealthy chronic stress-and-ego vibe from some lawyers and see the field as overtly entrenched and out of tune with how society and technology is evolving as well as the unnecessary hierarchies and non-teamwork mentality.

My courses are generally going well, I am fairly active socially but considered dropping out during reading week. My motivation has disappeared this term. It was hard for me to bother studying last exam season and generally did so 2-3 days before exams, though I got mostly above average grades. This term is a lot more content for me and I am not sure I will have the energy to push through.

I can envision mid-career depression at some stage continuing this track. Please feed me your lawyer parachuting stories.

Speak to your school about transferring into the JD/MBA program, you still may be able to do it. Most stand alone MBA programs want applicants to have several years of professional work experience, plus working and doing an MBA program concurrently will be very demanding. I think the MBA is a great degree that will help open more doors when coupled with your JD. Personally I enjoyed the MBA program a lot more than law school.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@mazzystar

Just skimming this thread and looking at your original posts, it seems that you dislike law school and are considering a huge swath of potential areas including law enforcement, psychology, and economics...

This reminds me of posts by people talking about wanting to go to law school, not because they want to be a lawyer, but because they dislike their current career. Seeing it as an escape, not a worthy goal in and of itself. And that's not a good reason to go to law school. Similarly, whatever you do, please do your analysis that it makes sense, and is not just trying an expensive (time and money) different thing in the hope it sticks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...