In “Discovering A Law Degree’s Downside,” the National Law Journal discusses the often overlooked downside of pursuing a joint J.D.-M.B.A. or even a J.D. alone. Although a law degree is necessary for those who genuinely want to practice law, for those who view the degree as an easy ticket to some undefined other field, job prospects are often slim.
For example, Dina Allam, who graduated last spring from Ohio State University with a joint law and MBA degree, assumed that employers would value her combined law/business background. However, after months of searching for a non-lawyer job, she began to rethink her decision – after she had $85,000 in student loans to pay off. Ultimately, Allam landed a job as a client engagement manager with Wipro Technologies. However Allam says, “I definitely think all the interviews I had were definitely because I was in business school, and not because I had a law degree.”
Although law schools, placement offices, and a slew of books often extol the versatility of a law degree, reality often proves otherwise. Many graduates find that while they appreciate the added knowledge that a law degree gives, they are no more marketable. Stephen Seckler, managing director in a Boston-based placement firm, says, “The world is a much more specialized place now…Going to law school gives you a certain set of credentials that really aren’t valuable for anything other than practicing law.”
When law school graduates seek alternative careers they must “educate” potential employers about the skills that they can provide, says Lisa Patterson, associate dean for career services at Buffalo Law School. “It’s about self-marketing.”
However, Erik Mazzone, director of the Center for Practice Management of the North Carolina Bar Association, says that law school should not be used by students as a means of postponing important career decisions. “It’s like telling someone who wants to be a forest ranger to go to medical school first.”
So if you decide that you do want to go to law school, make sure that what you want to do after you finish requires a legal education. Go to law school for the right reasons.