I Want It All and May Get a JD


QI’m presently enrolled in the MBA program of a top-five B-school. My interests are the following: Politics, political theory, consulting (media, advertising, political), marketing, and someday entrepreneurship.

I am 100% certain about wanting the MBA. I know that the business education and networking opportunities it will provide will only help me in the long run. And the long-term vision I have for myself is owning my own political consulting/media consulting firm. But it doesn’t end there.

Let’s just be clear that I’m not kidding myself. I want to live comfortably and make decent money. But I do believe it is possible to earn six figures and keep one’s soul. I care deeply about activism and scholarship. I want to contribute to the understanding of political science and philosophy—I want to be the next John Rawls. I want to help shape the local, state, and (someday) the national agenda. I want the whole Don Quixote experience—chasing after windmills like socialized medicine and marriage rights for GLBT partners.

However, I don’t want to be “the guy.” The one that gets elected and lives his life under a microscope. I want to be the guy that helps him, advises him, and perhaps gets a hefty chunk of his ad buy.

For several years prior to the start of my MBA (which begins in a week), I knew I was aiming for a JD-MBA, regardless of whether I earned them in a joint program or independently. I thought a JD was the only option if I was interested in political advising/consulting/media work.  I then took a step back and thought about it. I now think a PhD in political science or political philosophy might be better aligned with my interests. I have NO desire to be a corporate lawyer. I would much rather spend sleepless nights toiling over a dissertation (something that will at least create new knowledge) than a client’s case or private equity positions.

My university has excellent dual-degree options for both a JD-MBA and PhD-MBA, so either is a possibility. What are your thoughts? I really need some guidance here, and, thus far, I have found few who can offer any help. I place my faith in you.

AWow, I’m honored you place your faith in me. Especially since you’re way more focused than I ever was. I’m also honored that someone so ambitious and earnest is a Bitter Lawyer fan.

Having said that, here’s my advice: If you really are that committed to political/media consulting and “making a difference,” I’d go for the JD/MBA. First off, it will take less time and cost less money. Second, a law degree is a great tool for political science and social reform. I actually riffed a lot more on this topic before and, instead of rehashing it, refer you to “I’m Deciding Between a JD and a JD/MBA.”

Whatever you do, good luck.

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

14 Comments

  1. Alex Hump

    August 27, 2009 at 2:17 am

    Like this is a “REAL” letter?  Come on.  It’s staged by Bitter Lawyer.  Whenever they have nothing good, they make up letters.  As if anyone would come to this website for advice?  These guys couldn’t offer advice sufficient to allow people to box their way out of a paper bag!!!!  In any event, if this were a REAL letter, I would advice the d-bag not to be such an idealist.  In reality, this guy will probably meet a girl who will entice him into marriage.  She will start whining about living in a better neighborhood, wind up popping out a kid or 2, and get fat as a pig, all within 6 years.  So any thoughts of idealism will be replaced with how to please / put up with the ever growing wife, dealing with the kids, who may have ADHD, and trying to save a few buckaroos for retirement.  The only way I see that this dude can avoid this near certain fate is to keep is pants zipped up.  Otherwise it’s hopeless.  Take it from this bitter lawyer, whose kids and fat wife are still sleeping as I get myself over for another 13 hour day @ work.  So much for changing the world!!!!!  BL1Y, a good lesson in here for you too.  Keep those pants zipped up, or at least use birth control!!!!!!!!

  2. BL1Y

    August 27, 2009 at 5:00 am

    How is an MBA/JD cheaper than an MBA/PhD?  A PhD program should give you a grant that covers tuition and gives you a stipend on top of that.  Maybe cheaper in opportunity costs, since a PhD takes so long to get, but it should be cheaper in terms of absolute price.

  3. Pacific Reporter

    August 27, 2009 at 5:50 am

    BL1Y, you’re assuming he can get funding for his PhD. There are plenty of people that have to pay for their own PhDs.

    But since he’s going to a top tier school, getting funding for a PhD shouldn’t be a problem.

  4. BL1Y

    August 27, 2009 at 5:55 am

    If you’re not smart enough to win a grant for your PhD, you’re probably not smart enough to get a PhD anyways, but you’re also probably not smart enough to realize this, so you’ll go for it anyways.  Also, I’m looking at PhD programs now that I’ve been given TBFO, anyone want to write me a letter of recommendation?

  5. Anon

    August 27, 2009 at 8:17 am

    BLIY:  Here’s how it’s cheaper:  3 years rather than, what 4,5 or 6.  even if you get some tiny stipend that covers tuition, your OPPORTUNITY COSTS during those 3 years are huge.  That’s how it’s cheaper.

  6. Big Bill

    August 27, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Alex: Do you really think these Bitter Lawyer guys would invent THAT advice question?  I mean, please.

  7. Lawyer Bob

    August 27, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Alex, you’re a total fool.

  8. BL1Y

    August 27, 2009 at 10:22 am

    @9:17: See how I noted that the PhD should be cheaper in absolute price, but JD would be cheaper in opportunity costs?  Yeah…you’re kinda reading impaired.  Good luck on the LSAT.

  9. Anon

    August 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    BL1Y: my bad, dude.  Didn’t read it closely enough.

  10. Anonymous

    August 27, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    hump is right

  11. Anon Female

    August 28, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Hump is back. yea. not.

  12. Guano Dubango

    August 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Anon Female, I think of you fondly.  Can you tell me if you are available for dating?

  13. EngineerdLawyer

    August 30, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Might as well go to TuckerMax.com for advice on marriage.

  14. Sam

    August 31, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I completed a JD/MBA program at a Top 5 law / Top 10 b-school.  M&A;practitioner on the business side now for a global manufacturing firm.  My advice to you—Think about what success will look like at the end of your long career.  Visualize that, and then ask yourself: Will you have valued the experience of being in law school those extra two years?  Will you have gotten any value out of the alumni network that came along with your JD?  Will you have benefitted from having the JD credential on your resume?  In my own instance, the answer to those questions are likely to be: not really, no, and not much.  But your answers may be different given your expected career path.  Good luck!

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