I went to Harvard Law School, and worked at an ultra-elite NY Law Firm (think Non-Wachtell/Cravath, but top-5), will it help?

Hi Everyone - thinking about applying to B-School in a couple of years in order to transition into finance. As the title suggests, I went to Harvard Law c/o 2020 (had multiple leadership roles on campus, but did not graduate with honors/harvard does not disclose class rank outside of that), and have worked in biglaw for the past 2 years. I'll be 29 in about a year, which is when I ultimately want to apply.

I dont like biglaw, but wasn't successful at getting any offers from top ibanks, so considering b-school now. Please don't tell me to just lateral directly into banking because "I went to Harvard Law." I have tried (multiple times) and failed due to my "lack of a technical background" (or so they assumed). Besides, I would like advice on M7 Admissions at the moment, and not the advisability of lateraling directly into ibanking. So please keep this in mind and remain on topic.

Would my background help here? Do i need an insanely high GMAT? Working in Biglaw has not provided me with a whole lot of time to study, and I am definitely the type that does well on standardized tests only if i put in the time + effort. My job is just kind of getting in the way of that.

So lets assume my GMAT when applying is relatively low, as I know my chances of being admitted into an M7 would be very great if I had a high gmat.

My UG GPA was a 3.75 +, from a non-ivy, middle ranked university. Chance me? I want to go to Wharton.

Thanks so much guys!

Comments (23)

kbina1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Long story - short of it is that I enjoy it more and will consult with an MBA advisor on how to crystalize it and make it sound pretty. 

Telemachus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have a very good shot.

I've run into ppl with similar profiles at the M7s, though it's def not common. One particular profile comes to mind, this individual ended up going directly to HF world after a M7 with only a few years of big law exp & a T15 law degree.

Obviously story is important but that should be a manageable one.

Studying for the gmat/gre is going to be a pain doing big law hours, unsure if you can get a waiver or not given your profile.

Best of luck & feel free to DM me if I can help.

saysay, what's your opinion? Comment below:


WestCoastChimp4521, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you've already been to Harvard Law then anything outside of H/S/W will hurt your prestige

I truly dont understand why you wouldn't just lateral. If it's not working then the problem is you -- either your technicals or interview performance. And a lower tier MBA isn't going to help that.

I'm not saying it would never make sense to go; and you're still very young.   I'm just saying if you can't get a banking job now then the problem is you; not your education

  • 1
kbina1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dude....I can model, I know finance like the back of my hand at this point. I just don't even get an interview

kbina1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

plus you kind of just did and said everything i asked ppl not to in my post, which makes me thinks you didnt read it all. But thanks for input anyway. Shalom 

  • 1
  • Works at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Sorry to hear you have not had any luck networking. Theoretically, there should be no reason you can't get a shot at an entry level associate role. There are completely unreasonable and rigid mentalities in banking. Recruiting is one of more frustrating ones. You hire from top MBA schools because they represent an experienced, smart, and hardworking talent pool with brand that you can marginally market to clients. Your profile fits all these criteria minus the MBA

I think the heart of your recruiting hurdles is that people are hesitant in breaking norms in hiring. Even though you have a great profile, people don't want to take any risk and deviate from the traditional MBA pipeline. If you don't turn out to be a good associate, no one wants to be known as the person who broke norms and got you hired. There is less personal risk with recommending an MBA candidate because it's easy to say that they checked all the normal recruiting criteria boxes on paper.

The other recruiting hurdle aside from tradition and norms is that people hire others who are similar to them. M7 MBA like hiring from their school or other top tier programs. This tendency is something you can take advantage of though. I know you said you have tried networking but have you reached out to former lawyers turned bankers? That's probably your best shot besides getting an MBA

Most Helpful
Quaneaser, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You would have a very good profile for any business school - assuming you aced the LSAT to get into HLS I would guess there is a high probability you would do the same on the GMAT. That combined with your work experience and HLS pedigree would be competitive anywhere (HBS and GSB are kind of a crap shoot but Wharton/Booth/etc. would be attainable)

That said, as others have alluded to, I wouldn't do it. What type of big law are you in? If it's anything related to M&A, debt, etc. then you should have lots of connections with other associates/VPs assisting your clients or across the table from you. Network with them. It is a really tough market right now so don't get discouraged. The good news is you have a job so you're not under a time crunch. I would bet a lot of money that networking over the next year will result in a significantly better return on your time than waiting a year for bschool, sacrificing 2 years of salary, and then coming out as a 31 year old 1st year associate.

  • Associate 1 in Consulting

Wharton is very competitive though, even with great stats, gold WE and top UGs.

Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Work on developing leadership experience, score well on your GMAT and you're in at a M7 school. I've heard B school is a blast compared to Law School, so you have that to look forward to. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

LeveragedBuoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know Lazard NY has hired lawyers before. I'd keep networking as you study for GMAT and try a big push to talk to as many people as you can before starting bschool.

kbina1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

ummm dox much? lol

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov

I'm at business school now and would recommend trying to lateral - I imagine it's been difficult now because of the market but hopefully the start of 2023 will provide some new opportunities. Even if you get into business school in the upcoming cycle and start in 2023, you'll be a 1st year associate in summer of 2025 and business school is not all the fun people say. Feel free to PM me but I know of some people who have lateraled from Big Law to banking

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov

It's very cliquey for a group with an average age of 28, the classes are mostly very underwhelming and the social stuff is usually very mediocre. Overall I'm very happy with my internship + full time job offer and the friends I've made but I also do not plan on speaking to 90% of my class after graduation and don't expect them to get very far in life 

Mikhail_Khodorkovsky, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Did you go to M7 / HSW? Knowing what you know now and assume you were at orientation week again, how would you approach the 2 years of business school differently?

* spitballing but I'm thinking something along the lines of trying to identify people who you think will get far and try to develop deeper relationships with them ... idk though

  • 1
  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov

Eum vel delectus modi aspernatur in quia ex natus. Sint quasi a a et incidunt omnis animi consequatur. Rem ut corrupti est asperiores sed ratione saepe velit.

Voluptatibus totam tenetur necessitatibus veritatis. Qui et a dolorem tempora. Eos pariatur cum dolores ea est dolorem.

luxetjustitia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Molestiae dolorum voluptas ut iste qui ullam. Molestias numquam aliquid accusamus commodi eveniet earum. Veniam illum cumque ut soluta consequatur voluptatem omnis. Amet architecto et est non velit voluptas reprehenderit sed. At odio autem ut deleniti cum inventore aliquam. Consectetur occaecati optio praesentium minima aut. Explicabo consequatur ad doloribus excepturi.

Voluptatem ut magni alias necessitatibus voluptatem velit officiis. Dolorem dolores nihil praesentium. Quia enim quasi error vitae architecto itaque dicta.

Atque unde quas eum id sed cum sapiente. Quo ab atque eum eveniet et. Eum vero iure quasi ullam. Officia et natus consequatur quas. Qui consequatur at ab animi quia voluptate. Dolorum sed dolores eveniet incidunt.

Start Discussion

Career Advancement Opportunities

January 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres (+ +) 99.5%
  • Jefferies & Company (▽01) 99.1%
  • Lincoln International (▽01) 98.6%
  • Financial Technology Partners (▽01) 98.1%
  • William Blair (▲08) 97.7%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

January 2023 Investment Banking

  • Canaccord Genuity (▲04) 99.5%
  • William Blair (▲04) 99.0%
  • Lincoln International (▲09) 98.6%
  • Jefferies & Company (▲06) 98.1%
  • Financial Technology Partners (▲09) 97.6%

Professional Growth Opportunities

January 2023 Investment Banking

  • Financial Technology Partners (▲10) 99.5%
  • Lazard Freres (▲17) 99.1%
  • Lincoln International (= =) 98.6%
  • Jefferies & Company (▽03) 98.1%
  • William Blair (▲01) 97.7%

Total Avg Compensation

January 2023 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (6) $592
  • Vice President (23) $401
  • Associates (134) $264
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (9) $194
  • 2nd Year Analyst (80) $172
  • 1st Year Analyst (257) $171
  • Intern/Summer Associate (41) $167
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (185) $91