“How does the Harvard MBA view the Harvard Law Student who really wants a i-banking/analyst job at JP Morgan? Also, would you say that a business/corporate lawyer/law student has the necessary skills for competition in the investment arena? If you believe that they are capable of pulling this off, is there some kind of cut off of as per the quality (ranking) of law school for this kind of thing or not? What do you think of JD/MBAs?”
The Harvard MBA says:
It must be the time of year when people try to decide on college, grad school, and careers. A lot of school-related questions this week! Fortunately for you, a JD from a top law school is rarely going to be viewed as a negative by any employer. After all, you were probably a top undergrad three years ago; it’s not like your time at Harvard Law School has somehow destroyed your native intellect.
On the other hand, there are many employers for whom an HLS degree is only a minor positive. For example, if you end up going to an investment bank, you’ll probably need to enter at the same level as the undergrads, rather than getting the full MBA treatment. The reason is simple–the i-banks know that they can count on the MBAs understanding the basics of accounting, finance, financial modelling, and so on–they’ve just spent two years crunching numbers. You’ll need all the same training as the undergrads, so you can’t be immediately productive. You’ll still get more of the benefit of the doubt than the undergrads, especially if your manager wants a “legal guy” to check out an agreement, but (alas) you’d have been better off with two years at HBS.
If you can get a Harvard JD/MBA, I think you should. The JD/MBA is a powerful combination–it shows that you can hack the rigors of law school, but have the business sense and managerial skills of an MBA. One of my very good friends earned his BA, JD, and MBA from Stanford. McKinsey was delighted to hire him despite his lack of work experience, and he later become one of the youngest people ever to make partner at McKinsey.
As for cutoff points, I think that the banks will look at your “most prestigious” degree when deciding whether or not to consider your candidacy. For example, if you were a Harvard undergrad, and went to a second-tier law school, you might still make it. Same holds true if you went to a second-tier undergrad program, but graduated from Harvard Law.
If you don’t have at least one degree from one of the Top 25 schools, it will make your life a lot harder. For example, at D. E. Shaw, we had a written list of 25 schools we would recruit from. If you didn’t go to one of those schools, you were out of luck.
One final word of caution–if you do get your i-banking job, there is a danger that your JD will pigeonhole you as “the legal guy”. Make sure that your law degree doesn’t become a crutch. Prove your value in non-legal ways, or you’ll find yourself typecast.