I’m still discovering how real the dual degree considerations are. I didn’t realize we loved school that much. But I’m here today to address my JD prospects, especially the ones considering joint degree programs. And maybe some MBA candidates will find value in this as well. Professional pledging, while not for everyone, can be transformative for your career. What’s professional pledging you ask? Entering a corporate giant known for it’s competitive full-time employment classes that usually rewards you with a sick salary and even sicker benefits. The fleeky compensation package is not without its downside—90+ work weeks, “interesting” personalities, and unspoken requirements for you to assimilate and tone down your blackness to fit a societal definition of professional etiquette.
The downfalls, however unfortunate, shouldn’t always prevent us from pursuing it full throttle though—rooted in the long-term benefits of affiliating yourself with a powerful organization. These professional advisory service models provides multi-million dollar transactional exposure, experience in crafting legal memoranda/pitch books, in addition to engaging with wealthy clients (mostly Fortune 100 companies). With this approach to associate-level programs, they serve multiple purposes: educational, networking, and wonderful post-career opportunities if you so choose. Hmm, what else provides the aforementioned? Graduate School! And that’s why today people, I’m here to let you know…..that Skadden is your MBA. (Skadden, which is the common moniker for prestigious law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meager, & Flom LLP & Affiliates).
It’s not that crazy of a concept! As always, I’m not trying to knock anyone’s multiple ivy hustle. At the end of the day, you gotta do you. But I want to make sure I’m putting on blast the mechanisms at our disposal to achieve what we want. Let’s further expand why a NY big law firm could function as a MBA.
Firstly, I still believe in people pursuing graduate degrees because they want to learn! (Aya and I disagree on this point). But maybe I’m optimistically (and arguably naively) firmly committed to the notion of knowledge being enough to incentivize our pursuit. So for those of you who want to learn, entering Skadden as a first-year Associate in Corporate would confer similar MBA classroom advantages. You would probably do a rotation of Securities, Banking, and M&A which is enough to give you fundamentals in corporate finance and accounting, strong motivators for pursuing the MBA.
Secondly, Skadden, like the MBA programs, offers you the opportunity to cement some soft skills. As rhetoric and discourse are the tools of the profession, you’ll develop amazing communications skills. You’ll be a strong writer and amazing at public speaking. A lot of success is about “sounding” smart and lawyers def have the cap on that. Working in these environments where you are not only communicating, but often persuading and influencing other parties will be afforded to you. Negotiating deals won’t be easy without those skills on lock.
Thirdly, it offers you exposure to a powerful network and helps you solidify relationships beyond the black law community you may have cultivated at school and SEO. And we know this comparison is valid because we often pursue MBA programs because we have aspirations of expanding our network. Well don’t underestimate what your JD has given or will give you. JDs, you’ll get exposed to a wide plethora of talent. So trust, you’ll be good.
Fourthly, exit opportunities. Very few people actually aspire to keep on the partnership track (or successfully make it to the partnership track). That’s fine, it’s not the end of the world. The presence of a bougie big law firm on your resume will carry you through to your next big achievement. As mentioned in earlier posts, investing in the signals is the gift that keeps on giving. Similar to being a McKinsey alumnus/alumna, you can pretty much have any job you want (legal-profession) wise.
And again, to my JD prospects, JD candidates, and JDs, I’m not saying don’t go to business school if you so choose, but do have concrete reasons for going and ensure it’s the most career optimal decision. You’ve already invested so much labor and more importantly, money, into your education thus far. For the non-JDs who are in midst of the professional pledging or considering it, you can achieve MBA benefits in other ways as well. It’s important we explore all of our options folks!
If you really bout that life, go get your life! Don’t undervalue the labor you’ve put in thus far. Sometimes you already have the pieces you need to move forward in your career. Sometimes you just have to find them, dust them off, and turn up!