From BigLaw to MBA: Should I Do it and What are My Chances?

Hi all,

I've been lurking on here for a few months, in order to get a better understanding of what an MBA can do for my career and the B school application process as a whole. I don't really know many people who are in my position so I wanted to get yall's opinion about whether or not I should go for it.

Background:

I'm an African American male, top 25 undergrad but sub 3.0GPA with a B.S in Business Administration. I will graduate law school next semester with a minimum of a 3.6GPA (potentially with honors) and have accepted a job with a top law firm (i.e. Kirkland & Ellis, Skadden, Davis Polk, Latham & Watkins) in New York City. The plan is to work at the firm for 3-5 years, then potentially spring for the MBA. At the time I leave the firm, I will be anywhere from 30-32 years old.

Prior to law school I worked as a financial advisor. Throughout undergrad and law school, I've had a variety of leadership, community and work experience roles, from working for the SEC, to serving as my school's Student Body Vice President, doing pro bono civil rights legal work, coaching inner city youth and more. I was a National Merit Scholarship recipient going into college (not sure if that matters for B School admissions), and have won several scholarships and awards for my legal writing and research, within law school.

Why an MBA:

I went to law school because I felt that the law was inherently elitist; when disseminating information about the law, judicial process or government to the average person, I felt that there was little understanding or trust of that information between the dispensing and receiving entities. I felt the moral responsibility to correct this divide by acting as an honest representation of that information to eventually distribute it as a trusted source to my community. Specifically, I felt that this feeling was most applicable to social media and online content.

But lawyers are frequently reactive rather than proactive; we have no ability to change the system before something goes wrong, but we can advise our clients or litigate away responsibility. I feel that an MBA would allow me to better advocate for my own interests, in the way that I feel is right, rather than being beholden to another's interests. Essentially, I believe that getting an mba would allow me the best opportunity to better address regulatory issues I see as problematic, via my own private enterprises.

Scores:

My undergraduate GPA is rough, but i'm hopeful my high law school gpa will balance it out. I took a practice GMAT cold and was able to score a 660. (45 Verbal 35 Quant).

I would love to go to either Columbia or NYU, to stay in NYC. Are these schools realistic goals with my low GPA, despite my high law school GPA? What GMAT score should I aim for? Are there other things I should consider that I haven't addressed?

Additionally, I have 0 student loans from either undergraduate or law school (multiple scholarships).

Thanks in advance!

Comments (14)

Nov 26, 2021 - 11:32pm

So founding a lobbying firm focused on social media regulation? Not sure you need an MBA for that if you focus on that specific sector during your time in big law.

Regarding admissions, it definitely helps you're black. Doesn't help that your GPA is so low - I'd def recommend shooting for at minimum a 720+ GMAT, especially for the schools you listed.

Also, regarding an MBA, you'd be paying around $200k, not to mention the lost earnings. If you're still in big law say 4 years from now and then do the MBA, that's over 600k you're sacrificing.

Nov 29, 2021 - 2:02pm

Hi OP,

So many flaws here…

The reality is an MBA will not help you with starting your own business. MBAs are mostly for branding and helping recruit to corporate jobs.

Why don't you work in law a few years before even thinking about an MBA. I've seen many people fall into this trap -> i'll do a masters so that i can then get an MBA. You just spent a lot of money and time getting a law degree. Now you want to spend more money and time to get an Mba? It sounds like you just want to stay in school and increase your prestige.

If you actually want to help your community the way to do it is by volunteering and getting involved, starting something now.. not studying forever

Nov 30, 2021 - 7:01pm

Long story short, I really want to get into the business side of tech. It's a long shot to do that in a non legal role from Big law, so I think an MBA would help me pivot.

In terms of helping my community, respectfully, you don't have any idea of what I'm doing/or what I have already done to do that. I view an MBA, in addition to my time in BigLaw, to further advance my platform and ideas to an institutional level.

Furthermore, as I stated in my opening post, I plan to work in BigLaw for at least 3 to 5 years. The point of this post is to examine whether or not I should get an MBA. What's the harm in planning ahead and examining my options? I could care less about prestige- if I cared about prestige, I would've gone to a T-14 law school.

Nov 29, 2021 - 3:55pm

Did you attend a T14? Think that your Law School work will do A LOT to scrub the GPA. Not sure how far below 3.0 we're talking here but I got into CBS/Wharton/MIT and Darden Jefferson Scholars with a 2.9X + 770 GMAT as a white male, so I have to believe that as an URM with mitigating factors like law school honors you could get there. I would shoot for at least 730/740 GMAT - which is entirely possible if you study enough, but if you're in big law that will be a problem.

THe real thing, as others have pointed out, is you don't know what you want an MBA for. Seems like you're just hoping for another reset - reality is that it's time to grow up and pick a career direction to move into, then work backwards from there to see if an MBA is a necessary stepping stone. 

Array

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Nov 30, 2021 - 7:06pm

I had the opportunity to attend Georgetown, but i turned it down for another school that aligned better with my interests and goals. 

I want to get into the business side of tech- if that was not clear from my post, then I apologize. It's a long shot to do that in a non legal role from Big law without prior coding experience, so I think an MBA would help me pivot. Specifically, I want to go into Product Management/Development in Edge Computing/AI. In terms of picking a career direction...I have already done that? I didn't apply to law school on a whim and the point of this post is to help me determine whether or not a MBA would be worth helping me achieve what I need to achieve. In my opinion, getting an MBA and entering into the field i've described, in addition to my legal background, I feel is a perfect marriage of skills and knowledge to make me competitive for any corporate role- It'd (referring to this work experience after the MBA) also give me invaluable knowledge to start my own company. 

Most Helpful
Dec 1, 2021 - 1:51pm

Well, unfortunately you can't put "got into Georgetown but took the school that gave me more money" on an MBA application. Regardless, I think you do stand a good shot at getting into a Top 15 school if you execute correctly. 

The thing is...you haven't thought out your career at all - in your post you said start your own enterprise and focus on regulatory issues,  and then you just told me you want to be a PM in AI-focused tech (an extremely narrow focus, especially for someone with no actual tech background - usually you need hard experience to get a job as a PM outside of Amazon). This is all over the place and will be an application killer when paired with a less-than-stellar UG GPA. You need to have a clear You + MBA = career goals story that makes sense and isn't just "I will learn the skills" - because that's what everyone says and it's BS

Array

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Nov 30, 2021 - 6:43am

Former lawyer here. 

I'd target moving in 2 years rather than 3-5.  Arguably might be better to do either consulting or IBD from your current seat which is doable.  Super easy to network in as a lawyer. Just ping people and ask them how they made the transition over. 

Banks that are super lawyer friendly (for IBD seats) are Lazard, Goldman, Credit Suisse, but most firms have at least a few.

Dec 27, 2021 - 3:51am

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