The Survivalist 3

June 13, 2012

Academic study? Don’t waste your time, reckons our buddy in the bunker

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The Survivalist is often asked whether would-be survivalists should buff their cvs by doing LLMs, MBAs and so on.

In the real world, this is a pretty smart idea: improving your cv in this way will help you get a better job.

In law, however, this is the equivalent of stopping to pick flowers as you are racing along the motorway. As you stop to do this, fellow survivalists will speed off into the distance and you will be left with a fragrant, pretty, but pretty much entirely useless bouquet.

There are a few exceptions, but not many. For some – not all – intellectual property lawyers, a specific IP LLM can be a career advantage. Similarly, for competition lawyers, there are certain EU Law LLMs which will enhance your abilities. That’s about it.

The thing to do, before you go haring off, assuming – the cardinal sin for survivalists – that undertaking further academic study will enhance your cv, is to ask someone.

Do not ask your current principal. Chances are, caught in the airy, romantic and detached world of partnership, they will give you the wrong advice. They will be thinking of themselves as a young ‘un, wishing they had done so, without considering the consequences IF they had done so.

And they will be thinking of how your enhanced expertise might be useful to them.

Instead, ask a recruiter whether you should undertake extra study. The Survivalist would bet his last can of peaches that you’ll get a firm “no”, unless you’re an IP or competition lawyer in certain circumstances.

On to MBAs now. There is a specific legal MBA run by Harvard Law School, and quite a lot of managing partners have done it.

If you are going to run a US law firm, this is probably quite a good thing to do. If you are going to run a UK law firm you intend to transform into a US law firm, this is also probably quite a good thing to do.

If you are going to run a UK law firm that intends to remain a UK law firm, you will doubtless find things of interest among the wealth of things which don’t quite work on this side of the pond.

Any other MBA study is a waste of time. Law firms are bizarre businesses which do not function like other businesses, and the time you will take on your MBA could be better spent doing some heavy thinking about how law firms function, and about how you might make yours function better. But that’s for sometime down the road.

Doing an MBA while you are an assistant, if you intend on becoming a partner, is rather like building your own, personal brick wall on that motorway you’re dashing along.

Personally, the Survivalist would rather not drive into a brick wall on a motorway, despite the fact that his own armoured, solar-powered hybrid Hummer would make short work of the average brickie’s daily toil. If you fancy it, don’t say you weren’t warned.

To ram the point home, if you want to be partner in a law firm – or if you want to pretend you want to be partner in a law firm until you are ready to leave, which is by far by the best survival tactic – do not stop to pick the flowers, or build brick walls. Put your foot on the accelerator and keep it there.

If your firm is foresighted enough to have its own ‘university’, it is a pretty cool idea to do the kind of courses these things offer.

You may also get a trip to the US or something – as most of the firms with these faculties are US firms – which will introduce you to some interesting contacts. Use this kind of trip to the max, make friends in other offices and stay in touch with them assiduously. This will do you a lot of good as your career progresses.

OK, nuff said for now. Remember, no flowers, no brick walls.

Until next time, stay frosty. TS


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