a) Applying for a business management job straight after law school:
This is an accepted route to take at the finer law schools in the developed countries. However, in countries such as ours, the process is not so straight forward. Corporates looking for managers in non-legal positions tend to steer clear of law schools on the mistaken basis that law schools can only produce lawyers. They bleep over the fact that first and foremost, law schools produce smart people! The fact that these smart people are equipped with legal skills and knowledge is an additional value-add. Also at fault are law schools and law students themselves – students are usually hesitant to confront a dominant interest in business. ‘What’s wrong with me? I’m at law school! How can I think business management?’ – is probably an accurate guess at the pattern of thinking. The result of this type of thinking is that student or college recruitment committees end up applying only to ‘law organisations’, thereby ignoring other organisations that may have been interested, had they understood the profiles of students.
The answer lies in facing up to your interests and positioning yourself as a smart, dynamic, creative guy with the added benefit of legal skills and knowledge. Your resume must reflect this approach. Look around for the same kind of recruiters who visit the top B-schools, and show them how you can add value.
b) The shift – from a law job to a business management job
The second option is the SHIFT. Typically, you are in a law firm or the legal department of a company when it hits you that enjoy the ‘business side’ of business more than the ‘law side’ or that you want to be more ‘involved’ in the business. Making this shift is hugely challenging, because firstly, it’s likely that you will be perceived as being wired (oriented) to think like a lawyer, and not a business manager, and secondly, you will be leaving a position of tremendous security for a relatively alien situation. You must think through this decision very carefully – follow your passion, but plan the departure carefully with a largish safety net or fallback option. Talk to loads of people before you do it while trusting your passion and instinct. Remember, only fools rush in.
To sum up – to choose the right opportunity and take a sensible decision you must look at the following:
(i) What part of business do you like?
(ii) Is there any industry that you are particularly fond of?
(iii) How will you position yourself to the company – how will you convince them that you can add value?
(iv) Are you willing to take salary cuts?
It’s advisable to then go through a recruitment firm or manager.
c) The MBA
You have the option to do an MBA immediately after law school or after putting in a few years of work-ex. The decision really turns on how convinced you are. It’s advisable to put in a couple of years of work to add value to your resume. You can then leverage your experience in the corporate world as an asset. A foreign MBA, especially a US MBA will require 3-4 years of work experience and you will have to give the GMAT . An Indian MBA can be taken without work-ex and you will have to give CAT and the other management entrance tests. The foreign MBAs are usually more flexible so you can even work around your discomfort in certain areas like Math. An Indian MBA, however, would put you to the test in those areas. Lawyers often find it challenging to come back to the quantitative approach, but challenging does not mean impossible. The law – MBA combination is excellent and recognized the world over as one of the best combinations for any form of business and management.