What is a Law Degree Good For, Besides Law?
The National Law Journal this week raises the question, "Is the Versatility of a Law Degree Just a Myth?" "People don't see the value in the joint degree. They think I'm confused," Dina Allam told the NLJ regarding her joint law and master of business administration degree from Ohio State University. In hindsight, Allam said, she would have skipped the JD and gone straight for the MBA.
Allam won't get any argument from Ron Friedman, the lawyer-turned-consultant, who writes at his blog, Strategic Legal Technology, that he does not see a JD as a useful credential for jobs outside law. He explains:
When I graduated NYU Law in 1986, I worked as a strategy consultant for Bain & Co. My pre-law school job experience got me the job, the JD got me the consultant title, the same as MBAs (in contrast to associate consultant for BAs and, in my class, one MD).
I started law school uncertain if I would practice. I heard many lawyers and law placement professionals say how flexible a JD and law practice experience is. I found that with my prior business experience, a few employers (e.g., investment banks) would consider my JD as the equivalent of an MBA. Ive seen little evidence that the market has changed since then.
If Friedmann's right, then how does he explain all the lawyers who end up in interesting careers outside of law? He chalks it up largely to chance. "That many lawyers end up with interesting non-law jobs does not mean a JD is a path to those jobs or a 'flexible' career. It only means that some lawyers, after they practice some years, can change careers." In the NLJ piece, career consultant Stephen Seckler puts it this way: "Going to law school gives you a certain set of credentials that really aren't valuable for anything other than practicing law."
I say, tell that to Barack Obama. Ours is a society of laws. Laws control virtually all aspects of government and business and many of our personal affairs. To understand law, I believe, is to understand how things work. That was why I went to law school on the advice of a journalism adviser who said, "You know how to write and report. Get a degree that will teach you about the world." Law was his idea, not mine, but I've never regretted my JD.
What do you think? Does a law degree prepare you for anything other than law?Sphere: Related Content
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 1, 2008
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