Law School Discussion

Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?

Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« on: September 12, 2010, 05:59:15 PM »
I graduated from a T1 school in 2008 and I've been working in small firm litigation ever since.  I actually try cases, I'm not doing the big firm document review.

I'm thinking seriously about getting some transactional experience going, because I can't see myself in litigation for much longer.  The constant adversarial role, your life revolving around the docket, the mindless depositions and pre-trial motion hearings are becoming a bore.

BTW, I have some knowledge of the transactional side, because prior to law school I worked as a paralegal at a mid-sized real estate transaction firm.

I was thinking of attempting a joint LLM/MBA if that is even possible.  Would it make a difference?  Long term, I would like to work for a mid-sized to large firm in the transactional group and eventually move to a much smaller boutique transactional firm.

Re: Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2010, 10:20:10 AM »
I sure that any decent-sized school that offers an LLM in Tax would also offer an MBA through their business school. My guess is that most of those schools do not have a joint LLM/MBA program, although maybe some do. Either way, you can always enroll in both separately. As to whether that would help, all it will do is give you credibility. There is nothing you will learn in an LLM program that you can't learn from a treatise. I cannot say the same for an MBA; however, much of what is taught in an MBA program will probably be outside the scope of what a transactional attorney's job description. You'll learn a great deal of finance, most of which will be informational and provide background. I doubt you'll ever use it. Also, you can get the same info from reading trade journals. It really comes down to whether are not you are willing to incur the debt and loss of wages (assuming that you cannot attend part-time). I suppose it will depend on where you want to work (market) and how prestigious of firm for which you apply. The more prestigious of a firm, the more weight they will give to an MBA degree. Honestly, I have heard that the LLM carries more weight at the botique firms than the large firms because there is always a resident tax expert at the large firms to mentor you. At the botique firms, you have to be that expert. I don't think you need either degree, but either will be helpful, especially for prestigious firms where you have to distinguish yourself from other blue-chip applicants.

Re: Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2010, 05:22:54 PM »
You make good points, but also anything I learned in law school could have been learned just be reading caselaw.  The degree itself is more valuable than what you actually learn most of the time.

Re: Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 09:01:05 AM »
Law school is really meant to teach you think like an attorney. In the same way, I bet a tax program has its own nuances to analysis of tax and other transactional issues. That thought process will help you more than the material that you learn. Whether or not you can learn that on a job and whether or not the degree will get you either jobs or higher salaries that you would not get without it is a matter of risk assessment. I think you are probably right that the degree will be worth the money and time expended; yet, I guess that depends on how much of your time you want to spend in tax work.

I was an accountant before law school. I did some tax but mostly a great deal of securities regulation work. I found that the attorneys in those fields were truly experts in those fields. I worked with attorneys who had LLMs in either tax or securities regulation along with attorneys who had neither degree. I did not see any difference in the level of knowledge between those who got a formal degree and those who learned on the job. I don't know if this is dispositive of anything, though. However, the attorneys that learned on the job tended to be entrepreneurs more than the attorneys who sought the formal education.

Re: Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2010, 09:17:03 AM »
This exercise strikes me as most likely a waste of time and money. 

LLMs can be used to whitewash a JD from a bad school, but you already have a degree from a good school.  Other than that, LLMs are mostly for folks with academic ambitions.  If you just want to learn more about tax law, you can do that the way you learn everything else on the job:  read up.  You won't learn how to be a deal lawyer in an LLM program - as you know, that just isn't what they teach in law school.

The MBA studies would be a little more useful, but here also I believe you will pick up what you need to know on the job.  An MBA does look nice on the resume, but it doesn't make THAT much of a difference - certainly, IMO, not enough to justify taking a couple of years out of your career.  And again, there is nothing stopping you from auditing a class or two on your own time, if you just want some exposure to MBA-think.  Heck, these days a lot of schools publish recordings of their classes - I've been listening to podcasts of econ lectures in the car.

I know there can be a desire to collect degrees, but degrees don't pay the bills, and degrees mostly impress the people who aren't worth impressing.

Bottom line:  you will learn transactional practice the same way you learned litigation practice:  on the job.  You need to find a firm or senior attorney willing to train you, and you will probably take a seniority hit in the short term as a result.

More importantly:  As a transactional lawyer myself, I say welcome, and good luck.  Life is better once you leave the dark side.

Re: Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2010, 01:38:50 PM »
I tend to agree with Morten Lund's analysis. School is basically little more than a vocabulary lesson. Because an L.L.M. program is considered more of an academic than a professional degree, I doubt it will be very practical. Law school is not very practical. However, I will say that both tax and securities regulation are very rule-heavy. The familiarity with the rule structure will be helpful. I don't know how helpful familiarity with the tax code or with securities regulatioin will translate into job skills given that both codes change regularly. Generally, I think L.L.M. programs are really designed to make money for law schools. I don't know what value they serve outside of academia.