What do I do with my life?

I don't really know what to do with my life. I have just been admitted to a top 10 business school after being enrolled in a top 10 law school. I will graduate law school and business school at the age of 25. I have an offer to begin working at a law firm at a salary of $250,000 per year after graduate school. (No performance-based bonus to speak of.) This would be my first job. I would really enjoy the work although the hours will be brutal (75 hours worked weekly). It seems like a good deal to me.

I really enjoy writing contracts. I like structuring incentives to maximize value for parties involved. I also like writing prospectuses for IPOs. It feels like I am selling a company while disclosing everything that is material about the company. That is fun to me. I enjoy writing persuasive pieces and I enjoy protecting my clients from liability. I see an organization as a series of contracts and I also like structuring and leading organizations to maximize efficiency and production.

The careers that I am considering at the moment: corporate law, private equity investing, management consulting and general management.

Thoughts? I am about to start the business school portion of my degree and I want to know how to approach this situation to maximizing my expected gains.

Comments (19)

 
Jan 1, 2010 - 6:22pm

With the limited info, not sure I can really help, but...

If you actually enjoy, and will continue to enjoy after plenty of repetition, doing all of those things that you mentioned, then I would guess transaction law could be great for you. If you want to be more on the business or decision making side of transactions, then IB should be your target. If you want "to lead organizations to maximize efficiency..." then management consulting would be a great place to start.

Since, I doubt you'd be very successful finding a credible PE or GM opportunity with no experience, my advice would be to spend one of, if not your last, internship years doing either management consulting or investment banking. If you worked a corporate law internship, you should have a good idea of what IB is all about, and thus I think it would be a great idea to get on with a top consultancy. This provides you with the most optionality and broadest experience. If you know that you like the deal making process, and maybe you're not passionate about business strategy in general, then I'd go for IB for sure. Most JD/MBA that I know who want to do business end up doing IB, because that is most relevant. For pure optionality, if you know you want to do business, and not law, I would do management consulting.

 
Jan 1, 2010 - 7:10pm

I am not sure what I want to do in the long term to be honest. I don't understand what the difference is between the "legal decisions" and "business decisions" of a transaction. It seems like all of the issues are very much related. I don't know how long I will be able to sustain my interest in the "legal aspects."

What kind of person is more interested in IB? What kind of person is more interested in consulting? Any thoughts on what it sounds like my interest would be?

Thank you for this advice. This has been very helpful. What more would you want to know to give more specific advice?

 
Jan 1, 2010 - 8:20pm

Without experience, you're not going to find a credible PE opportunity and its going to be difficult finding a credible IB opportunity (without any work experience no one is going to bring you in as an associate and with a JD/MBA you are overqualified for an analyst position). If I were in your shoes, I would take the law offer and possibly transition over to IB in the future.

 
Jan 1, 2010 - 8:30pm

250k base? Is this Wachtell? If so, they are fairly well-known for paying legitimate bonuses (I heard 55% this year, but 100% of base isn't abnormal). Still, Wachtell pays 165k base, so if you're including an expected bonus of 55%, you're a bit above 250k, but 90k of that isn't base.

In any case, if you actually enjoy the things you claim to like, do corporate law for a couple of years. I think you're bound to lose wood for writing contracts after a year or so. At that point, you can look to move to an in-house counsel position within an I-bank or corporation, stay on at the firm with which you started, or look to move into a more business-focused role at a consultancy or investment house.

You're welcome..

 
Jan 2, 2010 - 9:04am

Working in Tokyo, you get a cost of living adjustment of $100,000. Working in Hong Kong, you get a cost of living adjustment of $80,000. After-taxes, HK first year associates who are US citizens take home around $180,000. Some of that is from bonuses, but they are not performance-based bonuses.

This is all really solid advice. Thank you. You guys are great. If I move into a business-focused role, will I lose seniority? Will I take a pay cut?

Should I even go to business school? Should I just finish my law degree and start work?

 
Jan 1, 2010 - 8:59pm

...._______......:
I would really enjoy the work although the hours will be brutal (75 hours worked weekly).

I really enjoy writing contracts. I like structuring incentives to maximize value for parties involved. I also like writing prospectuses for IPOs. It feels like I am selling a company while disclosing everything that is material about the company. That is fun to me.

> I am assuming you have done some internships in law firms before but FFS saying that "this is fun" is like saying that doing a research to identify the main players in the "household appliances sector in Germany" for a potential transaction is FUN for an IB Analyst...

> I don't buy your story... 250k for working 75 hours per week I am sorry but I don't see what the problem.

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