Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Business School or Law School – Which is Better?

By Guest Blogger on Mar 06 2012 • Filed under Business

Business School or Law School - Which is better?It has been five years since I graduated from law school, and during this time, the two most frequently asked questions I have received from strangers and acquaintances are:

(1) questions about how to deal with traffic tickets, and

(2) questions about whether their teenage children should go to law school.

Mercifully, this essay is devoted to answering only the second set of questions.

There are many misconceptions about lawyers – some good, some not so nice (as evidenced by the global popularity of lawyer jokes). One of the leading sources of misinformation about lawyers is the film industry, which gives the impression that lawyers spend most of their time in the courtroom, giving passionate speeches and leaving high-drama in their wake. As it turns out, many – if not most – lawyers never set foot in a courtroom, focusing instead on facilitating business transactions, often in ordinary corporate settings.

The close connection between law and business influences the advice that I give to people who ask whether their teenage children should go to law school. And here is what I tell them:

1. Go to law school instead of business school

The fundamental difference between a lawyer and a businessperson is that a lawyer has the capacity to change behavior, if she so chooses and is duly licensed, by demanding compliance with the law. This is the trump card. A lawyer can learn the fundamentals of accounting, finance, management, and marketing, and a businessperson can learn how to write well, make persuasive arguments, and negotiate strategically. However, without a law license, a businessperson cannot single-handedly take someone to court and vindicate legal rights. The ability to do so is a privilege and a source of power.

2. Lawyers don’t have to practice law

A law degree is a versatile degree. Because law school teaches skills that are valuable in many professional contexts – research, writing, negotiation, fact-finding, critical thinking, and public speaking – law graduates need not practice law in order to make a living. As an added bonus, law graduates are equipped with a functional understanding of the way that societies work, including the mechanics of business transactions, contract rights and property rights, and a robust grasp of the economic and philosophical underpinnings of public policy. Law graduates can credibly work as writers, journalists, professors, teachers, policymakers, administrators, and law enforcement officers. Notably, an entrepreneur with a law degree is in a unique position to provide specialized services to practicing lawyers.

3. Think carefully before you take the plunge

Law school can be a grueling and expensive experience. Getting into law school can be difficult, and the decision to go should not be taken lightly. Law students can expect to read up to 100 pages of difficult material per day, every day, for several years. Law school itself can be a stressful environment because of the competitiveness of the students (i.e. everyone desperately vying for the best grades) and the “Socratic” teaching style of law professors (i.e. teachers constantly putting their students on the spot, at random, during class).

“Should my kids go to law school?”

On top of all this, law school can be an expensive endeavor, forcing many students to borrow huge amounts of money. In light of these realities, nobody should attend law school without first getting a sense of what it is like. As with any career, it may be worth shadowing a lawyer or finding an internship opportunity with a law firm, a corporate law department, or a public interest legal organization.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: if someone has an entrepreneurial spirit, is interested in learning about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of society, and wants to cultivate a potent set of marketable skills that can be applied successfully in numerous professions, law school is an excellent career move, no matter what career they ultimately pursue. And so, the next time someone asks you whether their bright teenager should go to law school, tell them to read this article.

Raj Singh is a freelance writer and founder of the Capital Idea Network.

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