Should I Have Gone to Law School?

Last Updated Jan 29, 2008 8:29 PM EST

In our Leadership class this session, we've had local CEOs come to speak to us about what it takes to be a leader. (If you're thinking it sounds like Career Day at your local junior high, you wouldn't be that far off course.) So far, we've had three guest speakers -- one from the local government, one from a regional bank, and one with an entrepreneur background.

Not one of them has an MBA.

In fact, the CEO of the regional bank has a law degree. When asked about how said degree had helped him, he practically gushed about how going to law school helped him learn how to compile the information he needs and make the best decision from that information.

It was an interesting tidbit for a class of roughly 50 people -- all with jobs and going to graduate school part-time while possibly going into debt to do so -- to digest. And if my classmates are anything like me, it can't be the first time they've seen an MBA portrayed as a less-than-desirable decision.

This isn't even the first time I've written about the MBA's lagging rep. I spent several posts last fall defending the value of an MBA education. And, at the risk of being boring and redundant, here I go again. Why? It. Keeps. Coming. Up.

There was BNET's feature package about the real value of an MBA. There's three guest speakers with nary an MBA among them. There's the Entrepreneur.com article someone recently pointed out to me, which asked why entrepreneurs would want an MBA. There's a guy from my group -- and my own husband! -- questioning whether the program is worth the effort, not to mention money.

Then there's the comment I got during the holidays: "Going back for an MBA, huh? Sure hope that works out for you."

All this negative feedback circulating out there, and you can't blame a girl for thinking law school might have been a better way to go.

Then I remember that I hate researching pretty much anything, and I remind myself how much I whine over the reading assignments I have now. And so I just tune everything out and keep going.

I don't think anything emphasizes the deeply individualized motivations of pursuing an MBA more than all this flotsam and jetsam out there. I've said it before, and I can pretty much promise I'll bring it up again: It all comes down to why you have decided to pursue an MBA.

Those three letters don't come with any guarantees, and expecting otherwise is a surefire way to give credence to all the naysayers. But earning an MBA for your own reasons and picking up experience along the way -- from learning project management skills from balancing work and school to learning how to navigate office politics from working in a group with the same people for two years -- can bring exactly the ROI you're looking for.