Archive for September, 2009

NBMBAA Conference Recap

I just got back from New Orleans this past weekend from the NBMBAA conference. I had an incredible time. Thousands of people came from all over the US, enthusiastic to network with other business school students, optimistic to make that one special connection with a recruiter, and eager to get a competitive advantage and get one step closer to a full-time, six-figure dream job after graduation.

I arrived on Thursday early morning and after checking into my hotel, went straight to the career fair. Upon walking into the convention center, I saw hundreds of people scrambling to the registration room, all dressed in their best suits and in their shiny black shoes. Some were quickly running through their resumes before heading to talk to employers, others scrolling through emails on their blackberries, and others looking at the maps trying to find their target companies.

The crowd was incredibly diverse. It not only consisted of Black MBAs but also many of the world’s diverse cultures–Asian, Indian, Hispanic, White, and more. It was good to see that there were also quite a few women at the conference. Professionally, the people were mostly business school students.

Having been in MLT and having gone to lots receptions and admitted student weekends over the past year, I’d had the chance to meet a fair number of these people before, so it was nice to have a chance to see them all again. MLT was there in full force. Not only did dozens of MLT’ers from my class come out, but people from other classes came too. MLT also had a booth right near the front door. It felt like a mini-reunion.

Kellogg kids were also abound at the conference. Being in downtown Chicago at the law school, I don’t get to go down to Evanston as much as I’d like to, so it was nice to get together with everyone. Like MLT, Kellogg had a booth at the conference, and I spent a good deal of time there hanging out with the admissions team as well a with all the 1st and 2nd year students. About 15 or so other Schools were also in attendance, including the University of Chicago Booth, which is pretty close to Kellogg here in Chicago.

But despite all of the mingling, make no mistake about it, the highlight of the conference was Career Fair. Over the three days, more than 400 employers came out to actively recruit MBAs for summer internships and full-time positions. And this year, in these “odd” economic times, people didn’t take it for granted. My Kellogg counterparts were definitely on point. I chatted with them a lot about their job searches, and most of them had 1st and 2nd round interviews at the fair.

This fact highlights the biggest difference in recruiting at business schools and law schools. My MBA counterparts were hustling around for almost the entire conference, because for them, recruiting began before school even started. However at law school, we don’t start recruiting until December, which supposedly gives us a chance to focus more on our school work. As such, there isn’t much pressure for us to scramble around to find a job. As a JD-MBA I felt like I was part of both worlds. I was really interested to watch the recruiting process from the front line, so I definitely chatted lots of firms. But as a current law student, I didn’t feel any of the stress the MBAs felt, and I didn’t target any interviews during the conference.

Instead, my approach was to get a bird’s eye view of the recruiting environment and to see how all the companies fit into the puzzle. I spent my time talking to companies about the economy, asking questions about their financial well-being, and getting their perspectives on diversity. Most employers were quite willing to talk, especially since I probably came off as quite sincere given I didn’t have a hidden agenda of getting hired. On a couple of different occasions I was able to engage recruiters for 45-60 minutes at a time, whereas most people had closer to 10-15 minutes to make a pitch.

I was also able to learn a lot about a couple of not-for-profits who were at the conference. I spent a good deal of time with Education Pioneers and The Gates Foundation and went to their reception on Thursday evening for a couple of hours. The people at both organizations were fantastic, and I look forward to spending a lot more time checking out both organizations in the near future.

After a long two days of watching people run around looking for jobs, the career fair finally ended Friday at 5pm. At that point a lot of people went home to rest for a few hours before a night out on the town. I decided to head over to a private BCG reception at the local W hotel to mingle with some of the firm consultants. I’d met the Director of Diversity Recruiting a few times before, but it was good to see him again. After that, I went to the awards ceremony at another hotel to pick up my NBMBAA scholarship award with the other ten or so winners. As you might guess considering we were in New Orleans, the ceremony was more of a big celebration than anything, and it was a great lead-in to an unforgettable night on Bourbon Street.

I had a flight back to Chicago Saturday morning. I was on a flight with an MLT buddy who I wrote essays with in Boston, and I arrived home just in time to finish writing my Legal Writing paper for Sunday afternoon. It was quite a long weekend, but it was definitely worth the time. If you’re thinking about going to the NBMBAA conference in the future, you should definitely consider attending. The caliber of people are high, the opportunity to learn about companies is paramount, you’ll probably be in a pretty lively city, and the employers will likely be aggressively recruiting, which is especially nice in these “odd” economic times.

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 Business School, Careers, Diversity 3 Comments

MBTI Type, Careers, and Leadership

Having started a JD-MBA program this year and having just got back from the NBMBAA Career Fair over the weekend, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about career goals and trying to get a sense of which way I should be headed, especially given that two sets of career options will be open. I’ve thought a lot about consulting, law, and finance as well as some other non traditional career paths, such as becoming an entrepreneur or going into some kind of public service. A lot of people in both business and law school have trouble defining what kind of work they want to do or what field appeals to them. Many of us choose jobs or fields based on the prestige level or future earnings potential, but we quickly find out that the industry is not a good fit or we quickly burn out. I think that understanding your personality type can be helpful for analyzing what may or may not work for you.

As part of my first year of law school, the incoming class took an MBTI test. I suspect I’ll also take one next year at the business school. If you don’t know much about it, the MBTI test talks about your personality and designates you with a 4-letter code across 4 categories. Here are the basics of the 4 categories:

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

Statistically, lawyers (and law students) are slightly more likely to be introverts than extroverts. They also tend to be intuitive more than sensing, thinking to feeling, and judging to perceiving. The irony for me, is that I only align with lawyers on 1 out of 4 (Intuitive). I am curious to see how my type stacks up in business school. I suspect that more kids in business school will be “E” but that I’ll still be a bit different in terms of the other categories. I think in general, business students tend to be more sensing and judging, as they rely more on logic and firm decisions than they do on intuition or on the human element. That said, I think there’s a place for all sorts of leaders in both the business and legal communities.

Aside from career preferences, MBTI type is also a great tool to use to start thinking about your professional leadership style, which ultimately may be more important to your long-term success. Leading at a consulting firm, a bank, a law firm, or a public service enterprise is not about performing tasks or giving orders to employees. Rather it’s about working with and through employees at various levels of performance and various levels in the firm hierarchy. It’s about maneuvering a group of peers who may question your decisions and even your position in the organization.

To do this well, leaders must be both self-aware and empathetic ….. understanding their own moods, motivations, and tendencies, and recognizing and appreciating those of others. The MBTI test helps you understand how people take in and act upon information. If you can understand your preferences and others’, then you can reach a broader audience, communicate in a way that others find compelling, and inspire them to act.

As I embark on my leadership journey, I plan to try to keep my type in the back of my mind as well as become more adept at interpreting the preferences of others around me. Here is a little more about my type.

My Type

ENFP is usually designated as “Inspirer,” “Champion,” or “Change Agent.” I’ve always been an ENFP, and I really do think the description is spot on.

Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.” (Click Here For My Resource)

Leadership Style
ENFPs are energetic and enthusiastic leaders who are likely to take charge when a new endeavor needs a visionary spokesperson. ENFPs are values-oriented people who become champions of causes and services relating to human needs and dreams. Their leadership style is one of soliciting and recognizing others’ contributions and of evaluating the personal needs of their followers. ENFPs are often charismatic leaders who are able to help people see the possibilities beyond themselves and their current realities.(Click Here For My Resource).

My Comments
To me, the description of this type is spot on, especially the “recognizing patterns,” “making connections,” “using verbal fluency,” and the focusing on the human element descriptions. Ironically, my MBTI seems to be better suited for an entrepreneur, public service professional, or politician than for a lawyer or business person. The good news is that I’m quite interested in all of those possibilities. The bad news is that despite my interest, there is a lot of pressure to come out of school a lawyer or business person upon graduation, at least for a few years. Not only do I have lots of loans to figure out how to pay off, but I also think that getting some solid legal and/or business experience at a top firm will be invaluable. I’m curious to see how everything plays out.

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Monday, September 28th, 2009 Law School, Leadership 2 Comments

MBA Conference in New Orleans

Tomorrow at 5:45am, I’ll be hopping on a plane to head to the National Black MBA (NBMBAA) Conference. The NBMBAA conference is about recognizing the achievements of blacks in business schools around the country. What an incredible opportunity to meet many of the future minority business leaders from all across the top business schools in the US.

As part of the conference there is a 2-day career fair. Over 400 companies will be there (click here for a partial list), including Accenture, American Express, Google, Booz Allen, Pepsi, Deustche Bank, and Bank of America, just to name a few. Many of these companies will be interviewing MBAs for summer internships and for full-time positions. I won’t be doing too much interviewing at the conference because of the nature of my JD-MBA program, but I do have a short list of companies that I plan to chat with a bit and to keep in touch with over the year. I always find it a lot of fun to learn about companies from recruiters, who usually know more about their companies than anyone since they are the gatekeepers. I’m also quite interested in the strategies that companies employ to attract and retain talent and their approaches to increasing diversity, given my high interest in labor issues.

I don’t know how many of you have been to these types of leadership conferences, but they’re usually worth the trip. Not only is it the perfect venue to meet lots of ambitious and talented people and a way to position yourself closer to a great summer job, but it’s also a good venue to enjoy your experience in a new and interesting city. Personally, I’ve never been to New Orleans before, and I’m excited to explore the city.  The good news is that I’ll see a large number of my MLT friends and Kellogg friends at the conference. It’ll be nice to reconnect with everyone.

I’ll be in New Orleans on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll fly back to Chicago Saturday morning, just in time to get back to my reading for law school and finish up a legal paper by Sunday.

Stay tuned for an update on the conference!

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Thursday, September 24th, 2009 Business School, Networking No Comments

Northwestern JD-MBA Profile #1

When I was applying to and choosing between programs, I ultimately wanted to know two pieces of information 1) who were the people in the program now and 2) what were they doing after they graduated? While many top MBA programs have students profiles on their sites, historically, JD-MBA programs have not been as transparent. My hope is that this series of profiles about the Class of 2012 will explicitly help people find the answer to the first question about the Kellogg JD-MBA program.

For reference, I will not be posting the students in any particular order or based on any previous employment or future career goals. Rather I hope to profile a variety of classmates to best display the diverse skills, backgrounds, and interests of the JD-MBA students at Northwestern. Up first, is entrepreneur, Divya Narendra.


Name: Divya Narendra
Home: New York, NY
College: Harvard College ‘04
Major: Applied Mathematics

Previous employment:
• SumZero LLC, Founder and CEO
• Sowood Capital, Hedge Fund Associate
• Credit Suisse, M&A Analyst
• ConnectU, Founder

Plans After Northwestern:
• Entrepreneur

In his short career, Divya has worked both as a financier and as an entrepreneur. He has worked on transformational M&A deals as a banker at Credit Suisse, analyzed equity and credit investment opportunities at Sowood Capital (a multi-billion hedge fund), and created two internet companies in the social networking space. One of his start-ups played a role in the formation of one of the biggest companies in the world today.

Passion for Entrepreneurship
Divya started his first company while a senior at Harvard, named ConnectU, which was an online community for students and alumni of colleges and universities. The idea eventually turned into Facebook and plays a central role in the recently released book, “Accidental Billionaires,” not to mention an upcoming Hollywood movie.

When turmoil in the credit markets forced Sowood’s shutdown in August 2007, Divya passed on the opportunity to take another high paying hedge fund job and instead launched his second start-up, SumZero. Playing on the idiom “Zero Sum” game, SumZero is an exclusive social networking company focused on helping top tier analysts and investors share actionable ideas and grow their professional networks in the investment industry. Divya will continue to work on SumZero during school. For those of you who aspiring to be buy-side professionals, check out

Why a JD-MBA?
Divya notes that “exposure to legal theory and legal thinking are invaluable to any entrepreneur given the substantial overlap between business issues and the law. Because much of my work experience post college has been in finance, I wanted to fill in the intellectual holes that only a JD could provide, while still benefiting from networking and educational benefits of an MBA. Getting both degrees in three years at two top ranked schools was a no-brainer.”

JD-MBA Academic Interests
Finance, Investment Management, Entrepreneurship, Transaction Law, IP Law

Rock Guitar, Tennis, Value Investing, Art, Running, Formula 1

* For more information about the Northwestern JD-MBA program, please see the JD-MBA Program website or the JD-MBA Association website.


Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 Uncategorized No Comments

MBA Diversity & Hispanic Heritage Month

This weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of research trying to finalize my plans for the NBMBAA (National Black MBA) and NSHMBA (National Hispanic MBA) annual conferences. Having recently won both scholarships as incoming business school student, I am lucky to be able to attend both conferences at no cost. Considering how fortunate I am to be in this position, I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity, and decided I would take a moment to talk a little about it here, especially in light of Hispanic Heritage Month.

I believe that in America today, we are in a “race” to bring diversity to our professional communities. Even in my short career, I’ve already learned that diverse teams are essential to success in the market place. Just as cross-functional teams are used to create value in the market, so too do cross-cultural teams offer the richest possibility to improve our businesses, laws, and policies in today’s diverse economy. Hispanic Americans represent a large part of this diversity. They make up more than 15% of the US population and add immeasurable value to America’s economy and its communities.

Coming from Arizona, I experienced this firsthand, where Hispanics represent nearly a third of the population and where they contribute to every single part of the economy, white collar and blue collar. Hispanic Heritage Month is the period to recognize all of this value that the Hispanic Americans have had in the United States and a time to celebrate their culture. The observation of the month started in 1968, and more than 40 years later the event is still largely celebrated. The month begins on September 15th, because that day represents the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (Mexico and Chile also celebrate their anniversaries in September)

Here at Northwestern Law, a good friend of mine happens to be the Hispanic Heritage month Co-Chair for the Latino Law Students Association. She’s currently a 2L, and she’s putting together a wide range of events to recognize the efforts of the Hispanic here in the US. Knowing her dedication to the club and to Northwestern, I am certain the events are going to be terrific.

I don’t know exactly what she has in mind, but I suspect it will be something to engage the entire community. An obvious first point of reference being in law school is Sonia Sotomayor, our new US Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor is now the first Hispanic American ever to serve the court, as well as only the third woman. Not only is it a monumental moment in history, but it’s also at a time when our economy needs her most.

As the economic crisis still looms over the business and legal worlds, progressive schools have realized that recruiting exceptional Hispanic and other underrepresented minority students is one of the keys to re-establishing America’s long-term success. At the top 20 MBA programs, there are still only 7% to 10% blacks and Hispanics, and in the world of Fortune 500 companies and blue chip law firms, the percentage of CEO’s and Senior Partners is about half that.

Although our integration process is still far from complete, we do continue to see progress take place at top graduate schools, especially business schools. Kudos to organizations such as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), and the Consortium Scholarship Program, which give access to Hispanic (and other minority) scholarships and professional training.   I suggest that anyone who qualifies for these programs consider them as you are applying. And as usual, I’ll give a special endorsement for MLT, where the best and the brightest come while applying the business school.

But for a moment, what’s more important than winning scholarships and fine tuning your career is that on September 15th we all take a moment to reflect and appreciate the impact that Hispanics and all minorities have had on all of our lives. Furthermore, we should also understand that to further improve our society, it’s imperative that we continue to increase the diversity in our schools as well as at all levels of our labor force and ultimately work in teams together. Only then will we be able to put everyone in our nation to their best use and collectively unlock our greatest potential for change.

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Monday, September 14th, 2009 Business School, Diversity 12 Comments

MLT MBA Prep Application

Hey there prospective b-school applicants. I wanted to pass along a quick reminder about applying to MLT’s MBA Prep Program. I’m an alumni of the program and think very highly of it. As I’ve mentioned in a few posts before, MLT is definitely a tremendous resource, not only in terms of applying to school but also in terms of the resources you will have afterward–career counseling, mentoring, networking, training, and more. And the good news is that applications are currently being accepted.

That’s right. Applications are currently being accepted for MBA Prep 2011. That’s relevant for minority MBA applicants who intend to enroll in an MBA program as the class of 2013. For more details, feel free to check out my past post and the MLT website.

For those interested in applying this year, below are the two application deadlines:

1. First-round application deadline is September 15, 2009
2. Second-round application deadline is October 31, 2009

If you are considering applying in either Round 1 or Round 2, MBA Prep does encourage you to consider Round 1. Over the past few years, more and more applicants are applying to MLT, so as a result, it is becoming more competitive. You should never rush your application and should always put your best foot forward. But, on the margin, earlier is better.

Since today is already September 12, some of you will not be able to apply by the September 15. I encourage you to submit on or before the October 31 deadline. Feel free to post any comments or questions you have, and I will respond.

Good luck!

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Saturday, September 12th, 2009 Admissions, Business School, Diversity 6 Comments

Korean Popstar In My Section And Diversity At Northwestern

My section has a lot of the really interesting people this year. It turns out that in addition to the 19-year old I recently posted about, I also sit next to a Korean pop star. Literally.  My section mate, who for now wishes to remain anonymous, graduated from a Korean University with a degree in English literature. And although she made her living as a performer overseas after graduation, she recently gave it all up for the chance to come to Northwestern Law and eventually change the world.

Since graduation, my section mate has been making a living by performing in Asia. Sounds like the good life, right? After all, don’t we all want to grow up to be pop stars! Well, despite loving her former career, she ultimately chose to come to Northwestern Law to become an international human rights lawyer, though I’ll note that she does also plan to continue performing after school. My classmate is a really great addition to the section, and we’ve already become library buddies during the first two weeks.

While having a pop star in my section is certainly unique, I think the general notion of having varied professional and ethnic backgrounds is old news to Northwestern Law, statistically the most diverse law school in the world. It’s also water under the bridge for top MBA programs, which constantly aim for as diverse a class as possible. In today’s professional community, diversity is the standard, so schools are trying to reflect that in their learning environments. Schools not only welcome, but they also embrace a student body enriched by various nationalities, cultures, interests, and points of view.

Practically speaking, the core of our learning model in law school, the Socratic method, continually reinforces this notion. In the Socratic Method, students must continually demonstrate the ability to work across boundaries. They must absorb multiple perspectives while still articulating their own views. They must also demonstrate the ability to work with and through other people. A capacity to confront a wide variety of issues, both legal and non legal. And the facility to build consensus amidst a variety of competing opinions and perspectives.

As law students, we by no means do any of this perfectly. However, the diversity here makes it a great place to learn many of these critical professional skills.

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Friday, September 11th, 2009 Diversity, Law School 2 Comments

US Supreme Court Justice Comes to Northwestern

Next week, Northwestern Law hosts one of our most prestigious annual programs: The Howard J. Trienens Visiting Judicial Scholar Program. This year, United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be here to interact with students and faculty and provide her perspective on contemporary legal issues. In addition to various scheduled activities, Justice Ginsburg will participate in a discussion in front of the Northwestern Law community followed by a Q&A session.

The capacicity for this event was pretty limited, and the tickets were all gone in about 30 minutes. Fortunately I was able to get a ticket. And thanks to a quick email by the JD-MBA google group, a lot of the other JD-MBAs were able to get tickets as well. I am pretty excited for this event, especially given my potential longer term interest in government. Getting access to both schools for events like this is one of the things that makes a JD-MBA so attractive, and I look forward to taking part in speakers events at both. I’ll let you know how the event turns out.

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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 Law School 7 Comments

Labor Day And The Economy

Maybe it’s because I’ve been insulated from the outside world ever since I’ve started law school, but I’m quite surprised that I haven’t been hearing more about the labor and employment issues in the middles of the biggest economic recession in recent history. In light of the fact that it’s Labor Day tomorrow, I thought I’d share my thoughts on US labor and the economy.

The latest employment figures came out September 4th, and the numbers are staggering. According to surveys, job losses continue to reach record levels — from 9.5% in July to ~9.7% now. Concurrently, merit increases have been frozen. In most industries, 4.0% pay increases have long been the standard … until now. Over the past year or so, wage growth has been closer to 0.5% and in some industries has flatlined at 0%. I saw these changes happening firsthand in my last consulting role, where more than half of my Fortune clients froze their merit increase pools, and nobody received salary bumps.

The unfortunate thing is that this number only represents those who still have jobs, and it doesn’t factor in that companies are decreasing worker’s hours, not paying bonuses, reducing 401ks, and demanding that employees go on furloughs (requiring workers to take unpaid vacations or to take one day off per week). I suspect about 20% of companies are employing these furloughs now, and at least to 50% of government companies. When I worked at the Attorney General’s Office this summer, the vast majority of people there were on the Friday Furlough plan. The US Post Office has requested that some employees take indefinite furloughs and they are offering incentive plans for people to retire as many as 10+ years early.

With all this in mind, I’m pretty surprised that I’m not hearing more about the economy or about the state of employment, especially this weekend. One explanation is the fact that “visible compensation” levels of the business class have not dramatically fallen. What I mean by “visible compensation” is the compensation numbers that make the Wall Street Journal or the news—CEO salaries, severance payments, number of stock options, and “expected” bonus levels.

But take caution in what you hear. From extensive experience studying the topic, I argue that these numbers are not representative of the American story. For the business class, what people don’t know is that cash compensation is usually a smaller fraction of a total pay package. Executives are usually highly reliant on “actual” bonuses and the appreciation value of stock options (not the delivery of options) as part of their paycheck. In fact, these often account for 50%-90% of their compensation packages. And despite Goldman’s recent record-breaking bonus payout this past summer, most firms are not handing out cash. Also, despite the thousands of stock options that executives are still receiving as part of their compensation arrangements, many of them are completely worthless. This is because option value for executives is based on the appreciation of the company, and in this economy companies are not appreciating. So despite popular perception and media frenzy about CEO pay, executives are also taking a huge cut in pay. That said, at least they can keep their heads above water with their 6-figure salaries even when everything else has gone awry.

For me, the real story is the middle class and the poor. The unemployment rate for these folks is a staggering 10%-16%, with African Americans and Hispanic Americans at the high end of the range. This is 2x to 3x higher than that of executives. The only outlier here is in the finance industry where everyone’s jobs and compensation are at risk.

Aside from job loss, the middle class’ portfolios are also declining. 401k plans have been dipping for the past year, health care plans are becoming more expensive, and the stock they do have is not performing well. But more important than that is the residential real estate bust, since homes are the primary assets of those in the middle class. Having spent a large amount of my life in two of the biggest real estate markets, California and Arizona, I’ve seen this first hand. In Arizona, the average decrease in home value is 35%-40%, the highest in the US. When I drive down the street of Arizona, I continuously notice homes for sale at 50% last year’s value and homes that have been foreclosed by the bank. On many streets, it’s half the homes. And California is no different. Home depreciation is hovering around the same range, even in nice neighborhoods like Berkeley, Santa Monica, and San Jose.

If so many Americans are losing their jobs, not getting increases in wages, loosing value in their homes, and subsequently in panic mode, what is going to incent people to spend money? I don’t know the answer, so I’ll leave that question to the economists working on it. What I do know is that that there needs to be a more focus on restoring the labor force in the middle class and because there hasn’t been most business are not safe. The one exception seems to be universities, especially top tier universities, where demand remains high, especially today as students hope to become more competitive for theses “odd” economic times. This is especially true for JD and MBA programs.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts, I’m definitely fortunate to be headed back to school now. While here, I plan to take labor and employment classes at the law school as well as human capital and labor economics classes at the business school. I hope to be involved in these issues at the policy level one day down the line.

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Sunday, September 6th, 2009 Labor Economics 8 Comments

1st Semester Classes

This semester, I’m taking Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law,  Civil Procedure and Critical and Legal Reasoning (CLR), which is Northwestern’s writing requirement.  Here is a brief synopsis of each of the courses. I’ll note that although I’m in the JD-MBA program, I am taking courses with all of the law students this semester.

Contract law is the study of promises, exchanged between individuals and/or organizations. In the class, we’ll learn a lot about contract theory, and discuss things such as breach of contracts, consent, disclosure, incentives, and contract terms. This is a very useful class for JD-MBAs, and a subject matter I’ll use in most any of my career path I undertake.

In torts, we discuss civil wrongdoings NOT arising from contracts. Doing so, we’re looking at how courts determine settlements and perform payout valuations for different crimes, the latter which is often of interest to JD-MBAs. This class is more theoretical in nature, and while it may not directly relate to many of my potential career paths, it does give you practice reasoning through problems, synthesizing details of long cases, and assessing qualitative and quantitative information to come up with a solution.

Criminal Law
This course covers topics such as criminal responsibility, the significance of actions, intent, causation, and the rationale of punishment. The great thing about this class is that you spend the entire semester talking about really hard topics, navigating through gray areas without right and wrong answers, and taking a stand as you have to make argument about these issues. These are very useful skills in any profession and are abilities you must have to be a good leader.

Civil Procedure
This course is about the rules and standards that courts follow. It’s more black and white than the other courses, but still useful. For those interested in law, you need to know everything in this course. For those headed to business, you’ll get a lot of experience collecting data, focusing on details, getting the right answer, and understanding the importance of using a framework. Both consulting firms and law firms have a large appreciation for process and for frameworks.

Critical and Legal Writing
In this course, we’ll learn the writing skills that lawyers need to practice law – researching relevant information, analyzing complex problems, and writing and oral skills to present those solutions to a client. The ability to articulate and to persuade are broad skills necessary to be a leader in any career.

Overall, my law school courses not only teach you about the law but also help you broad develop a set of professional skills–the ability to communicate effectively, the ability to address multiple, conflicting points of view, and the capacity to solve complex problems. This proves the law degree is quite versatile and the skills and knowledge I gain from these classes will be very useful, both inside and outside of the legal profession.

As a reference point for those who want to go into business, consulting firms tend to hire lots of law school graduates. For example, I’ve seen estimates that Mckinsey has more than 300 consultants with law degrees. These folks have joined the firm at various points in their careers and all on the track to partner positions, if not a partner already.

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Saturday, September 5th, 2009 Law School No Comments

19-Year Old Classmate in My Section

Eight years ago when I was 18, I was a senior in high school. I had just applied to college, and I was still chasing my pipe dream of playing in the NBA, not to mention spending a lot of time chasing girls. But one year ago, the then 18 year old Kate McLaughlin had other things on her mind. Instead of chasing romance or a pipe dream, Kate was tutoring college kids at on test prep strategies Kaplan, acing the LSAT, and getting accepted to law school.

In her academic career, Kate skipped six grades, enrolled in community college at age 12, and graduated from UC San Diego at 17. She scored a 174 on the LSAT (~99th percentile), which is equivalent to about a 740 on the GMAT. Most people here spent 7 or 8 years doing other things before they could attain similar scores.

Kate is an unusual addition to Northwestern’s roster which usually touts older, more experienced students than most schools. I’m not sure what Northwestern’s agenda is here, perhaps they simply want to take a smart applicant who is a fit for the school (aside from age), perhaps they want the publicity of having Kate here, or perhaps something else, who really knows? But what I do know is that I spoke with Kate once briefly, and she seems REALLY smart. I wish her the best this year, and look forward to working with her in all of my classes.

Click here to see the original post on Kate by American Bar Association.


Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 Admissions, Law School 6 Comments

First Day of Law School

After eight months of impatiently waiting and two weeks of chaos during orientation, it finally happened. Just Monday I began my first day as a JD-MBA student at Northwestern Law. I can already tell it’s not only going to be an incredible journey but also a long one. For one, I’ve got about 1,000 days until the bar exam, should I decide to take it. I’ve got another 200 or so days until my last day as a 1L. That will be a huge day of celebration. I’ve got about 100 days until my first midterm. I’ve got 2 days until my first “official” bar review. And finally, I’ve got at least another 10-12 hours or so until I can leave the library and go home from school today. I look forward to all of it.

It all started this past Monday, when I began my first class at 8:45 am. Before class, everyone was on Facebook and Twitter posting about heading to their first day of law school. I did the same, and got a really great response from all my facebook friends. My first course was Contracts As a JD-MBA student I love contracts, because the topic sits at the intersection between both business and law. The class will be quite practical in the long run, and even now it makes a lot of sense for me, since I drafted contracts regularly at my old company. The MBA side of me came out right away in the first class, when we were discussing the idea that contracts are “promises”. While most people in the class were talking about friendships and “Moral Obligation” (a term often used in contracts), I couldn’t help but bring up the notion of incentives and how those affect contracts. Personally, I believe that most of what we do in life is driven most by incentives, incentives for money, incentives to be liked, incentives to manage relationships, etc.

After Contracts, we had Torts. More important than why the name of the class is Torts, which I don’t actually know the answer to, is the fact that our professor is a rockstar. Professor Speta is a great speaker, is as sharp as they come, and is definitely a good entertainer. He employs the Socratic method and case method for the entire class and always seems to have an agenda for everything he does, including the specific person he calls on. In fact, he reminds me a lot of the professors I encountered visiting HBS, another school I considered attending.

My last class of the day was Civil Procedure. The class was a lot better than I expected, and a lot less dry as well. In fact, I think it may end up being one of my favorite classes. Although even if it weren’t, I couldn’t say so. Our professor just so happens to be the wife of the school Dean. So we’ve got to be extra nice all semester long.

But more than all the classes, what we did on Monday was get to know our section team members. Northwestern believes that the first step to a great career is having a strong team foundation. Developing relationships with members in your section is an important process. And although that will take time, the fastest way to start this process is through shared experience. This is probably part of why school gives us so much work so quickly.

Coming from a business background as a JD-MBA and former consultant, this topic is not new. Having worked on a couple of human capital engagements in the past, I’m quite familiar with the perceived benefits of shared experiences and with team-building activities. It’s been two days so far, but so far my section seems really great, friendly, and of course, very diverse – a staple of Northwestern Law. I look forward to working with them over the next 9 months.

What’s also great is that the JD-MBAs are pretty evenly spread among all the sections. My section has five or six and the other sections have anywhere from five to eight. While we try and succeed at integrating in the sections during the day, the JD-MBA crowd is very close. We started a Google Group list back in March, so we’ve been in touch daily ever since then. Also, we’ve already had a couple of huge gatherings before school began, including two that I organized and hosted during orientation. It’s definitely going to be a great couple of years together.

But for now, I’ve got to stay grounded in the here-and-now, because I still have massive amounts of reading to do for today, tomorrow, and Friday. It feels like I’m drinking from a fire hose, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Everybody does.

Anyhow, thanks for reading my first official post as a student. Please keep reading and feel free to comment as I continue to share perspectives on my JD-MBA experience.

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Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 Law School 3 Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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