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What would be my first step towards being a corporate lawyer?

I want to be a corporate lawyer one day but I also want to go to business school and get my MBA. business-management law lawyer

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John’s Answer

With such serious competition in the field, it's best to take your academic performance seriously from an early age. One of the best things you can focus on is bettering your chances of getting into a great college or university. Put simply, better grades in high school = better school for your BA degree = better law school = better chances of becoming a corporate lawyer. Law is one profession where it really matters where you go to school. Attending a top-15 law school doesn't guarantee that you'll end up with a great job, but it really helps.

HIGH SCHOOL – One of the single most important parts of your college application is what classes you choose to take while in high school (in conjunction with how well you do in those classes). Work with your high schools acedemic advisor they'll help you balance your schedule between regular and honors/AP/IB courses and how to choose the extracurricular activities that will look good on your college application. Aim to take as many advanced and/or AP courses as possible. Classes in English, Government, Economics, and Math will benefit you well in college and law school (and will pay off even if you change your mind about becoming a lawyer). Volunteer work and leadership experience will help boost your college applications also. If available at your school, you may want to check out Mock Trial or the Debate Team, these activities might double as a way to get a feel for the legal profession.

COLLEGE – You need a Bachelor's degree at minimum in order to go on to law school, and it definitely helps if you end up at a school with a strong reputation. Once you get to college, it's important to keep up your academic performance (your grades will be important when you apply to law school). A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for pretty much every law school in the US, but the truth is that this probably isn't competitive enough. Aim for 3.5+ (the higher the better). Since you're interested in corporate law, for example, you might major in Business. You can gain similar hands-on law experience by getting a student job. A position in a law firm (even in an administrative capacity) will help you get a better idea of the day-to-day work as a lawyer. A paying job also means more funds to cover college and law school expenses.

LSAT – The LSAT is a huge part of your law school applications—it might even be as important as your college GPA. As such, it requires that you dedicate some serious study time to the exam. The recommended study time for the LSAT is 160-300 hours. This comes out to 20-25 hours a week for 2-3 months, which is obviously a serious commitment. The LSAT test is administered only four times a year – usually in February, June, September, and December—so plan on registering months in advance. The latest you can take the LSAT for Fall admission is December of the previous year, although it's best to take it earlier (aim for June or September).

Hope this is helpful Daniella

This was extremely helpful!! Thank you for taking time out to give me a bit of insight into what is necessary in order to accomplish my dream. It was dearly noted especially the parts where you mentioned the LSAT. I have accomplished a bit of your advice since I have shadowed a paralegal during my sophomore to junior year of high school, just to get a sense of what the environment would be like(If law school doesn't work out, It be fun to be a paralegal). For college, I will be attending NYUStern this fall. Fingers crossed that I will be able to manage over a 3.5 GPA just to keep my scholarship and to have a "better chance" of law school. Daniella M.

Daniella you've done well to discipline yourself to do the things you need to do when you need to do them, and soon the day will come when you will be able to do the things you want to do when you want to do them. All the Best John Frick

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Rachel’s Answer

I would echo the responses above. You do not need to obtain an M.B.A. in order to be a corporate lawyer, you would only need to obtain a law degree. With that being said, you absolutely should obtain the M.B.A. degree if it is something that you would like to do!

As Roy mentioned, a number of schools actually offer dual degree programs, where you can obtain your J.D. and M.B.A. concurrently, which often allows you to save (at least) a year compared to completing both degrees separately (i.e., four years rather than five). This opportunity is definitely something to consider during your application process if you are interested in the option of obtaining both degrees. In some instances, this will require being admitted to two separate schools, the law school and the business school, even though you would receive one joint J.D./M.B.A. degree at the end of your program. The alternative would be to enroll in business classes offered by your law school (some schools have “emphasis” programs) and experience internships in this area of law, rather than pursuing an additional degree.

For corporate law it may be beneficial to have an undergraduate degree in business, economics, or accounting. However, your G.P.A. and standardized test scores (LSAT and/or GMAT), will be much more important with respect to law school admissions than your major or the types of classes you take.

Wishing you the best of luck in all of your endeavors!

I am extremely grateful for the advice and for the different ways in which I can work in order to get my J.D/MBA. Daniella M.

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Roy’s Answer

So your first step towards being a lawyer would be to get a degree from an undergraduate program. Your major doesn't matter too much in that you can be a lawyer with any degree, but it could be worthwhile to think about what kind of law you want to go into. If you want to do intellectual property work you may want to study engineering or a science during undergrad. If you may be interested in tax work you may want to consider a degree in accounting. Essentially, think about what interests you about law and tailor your degree to that.

After that you will need to attend an ABA accredited law school. Many programs will actually allow you to pursue an MBA as well as your J.D. at the same time and have a program set up to facilitate that. Check with law schools in your area to see what programs they offer.

Then all that's left will be to take the bar and get licensed!

Thanks so much for the advice. I will take them into account when pursuing my degrees!!! Daniella M.

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Maggie’s Answer

I would think about what your end goal is - if it is to become a lawyer - then law school is necessary. You can get foundational business knowledge in your undergraduate degree and then attend law school. Definitely consider why you want either law or business degree - they are both financially and intellectually demanding!

Advice dearly noted. Thank you!! Daniella M.

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Mark’s Answer

Hi Daniella - You don't need an MBA to be a corporate lawyer, but you do need to get a law degree. One path might be to study business in college, and then go for your law degree.

I have an MBA, and most people choose to get an MBA when they want to pursue a career in business (not law).

I hope this is helpful! Good luck!

Thank you for the advice. I know it not necessarily needed to get a MBA when becoming a corporate lawyer but I feel it would allow my resume to stand out a bit more. Daniella M.

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James’s Answer

Lawyers are very detail oriented people. This is important for a profession where literally every word counts. Understanding a particular subject - business, technology, intellectual property, etc. - can be useful if you are looking at a specialized field, but the basics of reading, research, writing, generating arguments, coming up with counter-proposals, being on top of every details - these are the real skills needed to be a lawyer.

Hopefully, as I get older I will be able to better hone and manage those skills. Thank you for giving me a rundown on some of the basic skillsets that lawyers need to have. Daniella M.

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Derek’s Answer

I'm a corporate lawyer working in the legal department of a global tech company here in Silicon Valley. I went straight from high school to college to grad school to practicing corporate law at a law firm. I obtained a dual JD/MBA degree because I've always been interested in corporate law, but the business classes from my MBA program have been very helpful in my day-to-day activities as a lawyer. This is especially true of the business accounting and finance courses, as I'm expected to understand numbers well as a corporate lawyer (for M&A transactions, SEC filings in which the company's financials are reported, etc.) I did well enough in high school and college, but really focused on studying for the LSAT exam during my third year of college (to apply to law school) and studying for the GMAT exam during my first year of law school (to apply to business school). The joint JD/MBA program allowed me to graduate from both programs in 4 years as opposed to 5 years if you were to pursue the two degrees separately. Strong grades in college and scores on the LSAT/GMAT exams will not only result in potentially getting into better ranked graduate schools, but it may affect whether you receive financial scholarships as well. NYU is a great school. Study hard, but remember to have some fun too. Most people only have one opportunity to go to college during their lifetime. Good luck!
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