Friday, October 4, 2013

The Fantasy of the Socratic Boredroom

From the way-before time (2010):
Business leaders and corporate headhunters agree that the JD is once again an alternative to the MBA as the degree of choice for CEO candidates, and that the trend is very likely to increase over the next decade.
If this happens some time soon, please let me know.  I've got me one of them JDs in a waterlogged cardboard frame and I'd like to nab one of these CEO positions.  I hear they pay well.

Meanwhile, today the good folks at JDUnderground pointed me to this windbag:
Look at the CEOs of all successful companies and you will see most have law degrees.... 
Guess what degree your boss' boss has? A law degree. He doesn't have one you say? Look further up the pyramid and I guarantee you will see one up there.
You guarantee, eh?  Like that 97% employed guaranteed non-guarantee?

Because, apparently, mental children like to opine about these issues online, I'll refrain from saying what I'm thinking, which is "holy mother of titty-fucking juniper berries pouring out your ass," which makes much more sense than that comment about JD CEOs.

I decided to take "InflatedSnake's" advice and actually look at the CEOs of successful companies. I just started scrolling down the Fortune 500 list and marking down the CEOs I could quickly find educational information on, and occasionally skipping around or over companies that don't make drugs, bombs, or food.  I got bored fairly quickly, but got enough to make some general observations.  And by general observations, I mean "duh, derpity, duh tiddly tum."
For example, as far as I can tell, the following companies currently have CEOs without the gift of a Juris Doctor:  3M, Abbott Labs, ADM, Aetna, AIG, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Berkshire Hathaway, Best Buy, Boeing, Cardinal Health, Caterpillar, Chevron, Citigroup, Coca Cola, Comcast, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Disney, Dow Chem., DuPont, Express Scripts, Exxon, FedEx, Ford, General Dynamics, General Electric, General Motors, Google, Haliburton, Hess, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Humana, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Johnson Controls, JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Lowe's, Macy, McDonalds, McKesson, Microsoft, Nationwide, Oracle, Pepsi, Pfizer, Phillip Morris, Phillips 66, Proctor and gamble, Prudential, Safeway, Sears, Sprint, Sysco, Target, Time Warner, UnitedHealth, UPS, United Tehnologies, Valero, Verizon, Walgreens, Walmart, WellPoint, Wells Fargo.

Oh god no! Oh this can't be happening! You're operating without a T-437, Springfield! 

The following companies actually have a well-credentialed JD in charge:  American Express, Bank of America, Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, Kroger, Merck, MetLife, State Farm.

Obviously, there's high demand for the JD.  Let's look at these individuals to glean general rules the fresh JD can follow to land that prime office space.

American Express's Kenneth Chenault went to Harvard, spent two years as an associate in a New York law firm, and then became a consultant at Bain.

Brian Moynihan of Bank of America worked for Edwards & Angell after law school (Notre Dame).  He worked mostly for one client, Fleet, which he then parlayed into an in-house position in her early/mid-30s.

Cisco's John Chambers earned a law degree from West Virginia in 1974...and earned an MBA in 1975.

After just three years of tax practice, Lloyd Blankfein (Harvard JD) switched careers to be a precious metals salesman for one of Goldman Sachs's subsidiaries.

Frank Blake, now CEO of Home Depot, was a Supreme Court law clerk and a federal government attorney (general counsel for the EPA) before landing his in-house gig with General Electric.  He went to Columbia.

David Dillon, outgoing CEO of Kroger, and SMU law alum, was simply born into the right family.

Kenneth Frazier was actually a litigator-turned-partner at Drinker Biddle Reath after earning his JD from Harvard.  He represented Merck and then, prior to age 40, joined Merck.

As far as I can tell, Steve Kandarian of MetLife never did any sort of classical attorney work; in addition to his GULC law degree, he has an MBA from Harvard.

State Farm's Ed Rust, like his fellow SMU alumnus Dillon, was born with the right last name at the right company.

So of the nine I found who were Juris Doctors:
  • Only five have actual practice experience
  • Only four worked at private firms
  • Only one or two appear to have significant litigation/trial experience
  • The only two who were in private practice for more than five years jumped ship to a client
  • Every single one was in-house or in a non-law position by age 43.
  • Not one of them went to a private law school ranked outside the top 50 or a second-choice public.
Sure, JD-holders occasionally become CEOs.  So do people with no degree at all.  So do people who started at low-level positions.  So do people who lived in Montana at some point in time.  So do people with blond hair.

That doesn't mean the JD is what actually improved your chances for the position.  Of course, Frazier and Moynihan needed the JD to represent the companies that would poach them, but is that really any different than any other skilled professional doing work for the company?  And if the JD is really an awesome credential, why aren't the lawyers representing all these other companies getting poached left and right?

Better question:  given that every large law firm in the country has a lawyer-CEO as a managing partner/President, why aren't large companies tapping these wizards to run their companies, if the JD has any level of equality or superiority to the MBA?

Why are successful private practice attorneys not regularly recruited to run companies?  Where are the thirty-year practice veterans who take their management skills to corporate America?

The juris doctor is not now nor ever truly has been a degree that is designed for or assists in business management, and people who believe otherwise are living in a fantasy land.

It doesn't make any sense logically, and it doesn't have a lot of support empirically.  In fact, it boggles the mind why anyone would think a law degree would make for a better CEO candidate.  CEOs are supposed to be visionary and, in most cases, big-picture thinkers.  CEOs have to be collaborative and delegate authority as most great executives do.  They have to think about innovation and change.  They're leaders.  Attorneying is about minutiae and understanding/following multifaceted sets of rules and following long-established authorities.  And lawyering also breeds micromanagement for a variety of reasons.  And despite the claims of law school shills, there is very little leadership or management taught in law school.

Just because driven, smart people get the degree and driven, smart people happen to become CEOs does not mean the degree enhances one's prospects at being a CEO.  If you can understand that basic rule of logic and statistics, you are probably in fair shape to get a degree that may actually matter (like, I don't know, a business degree).

I guess you can chalk this one up as an especially egregious version of the versatility fallacy.  Getting a JD doesn't make it much more likely that you'll be a CEO, just as it doesn't make it much more likely that you'll be anything else except, well, a lawyer.  Of the thousands upon thousands of lawyers practicing in large law firms in the 80s and 90s, only four of them are now CEOs at America's top 120 or so companies.

Far more are in prison.  Far more are disbarred.  Far more are dead before their time.

Should the law schools start claiming those results as versatile outcomes of getting a juris doctor?  No?

Okay.  Then stop the bullshit about Lawyer-CEOs.  If you're an exceptional person who wants to be a CEO, your best bet at age 23 is to start working for the company and avoid law school.


  1. Notice anything about these companies? Most are in finance or insurance. Merck is a pharmaceutical company. What do they have in common? High levels of regulation. (I also know of a few CEO's who are or were JD's in the utility industry, another highly regulated area.) There are situations where it could be beneficial to have a JD in charge.

    That being said, none of these guys went to law school as part of a grand plan to become a CEO. That argument is a rather flimsy attempt at salesmanship.

    1. "There are situations where it could be beneficial to have a JD in charge."

      No, it wouldn't.

      Most of the largest companies in America are "heavily regulated." The oil companies and companies like Dow/ADM sure as heck are. Same with anything that touches healthcare. Same with food services. Same with heavy production of any significance.

      It would help to have a lawyer in charge of the Regulatory department, and often you'll see the VP of Regulatory/Compliance/etc. is a lawyer.

      But there's no advantage to putting a person with that skillset in the CEO chair instead of as chief of regulatory.

  2. "Guess what degree your boss' boss has? A law degree. He doesn't have one you say? Look further up the pyramid and I guarantee you will see one up there."

    What a dumb fucker.

    Of course there will eventually be someone with a JD above you in the pyramid - it's a common degree - and he seems to be muddling up the fact that a person has a JD and the conclusion that the JD was the cause of the promotion up the ladder.

    Where he needs to be looking is down. Because you can bet that beneath you, there are hundreds of JDs working in menial jobs, or temp jobs, or who are unemployed.

    So statistically, surely the conclusion is that a JD leads to shit jobs and unemployment rather than promotions to CEO?

    Some JD applicants are literally retarded.

  3. OT news from England:

    "More than 1,000 small legal practices go under" ... in the last 12 months!

    And... huge cuts to legal aid "but the bar is just too big" says UK Atty Gen

  4. Remember Duquesne Law touting Art Rooney as an example of a successful graduate who became an NFL owner? It must have been their comparative Hawaiian legal history and sports law programs that got him there.

  5. I saw a cooley ad on a bus today. it said some coo (big ten??? I couldn't see the whole ad) is a cooley grad

    1. That's disgusting. TMC is going to drag down as many misinformed students as they can before the end comes.

  6. I spend many years in the auto industry )tier 1 and oem). and I cant think of a single high level person outside of gc office who had a jd. im not saying they didn't exist, but I just cant remember them.

  7. 1. Look at the CEOs of all successful companies and you will see most have law degrees.

    2. Look at all major league baseball players, and you will see that most played little league ball as kids.

    Proposition 2 can be dismissed immediately as outrageous and deceptive because of the percentages involved. And yet Proposition 1 is equally so. Actually, if I had to choose, I would say that #2 provides more guidance than #1.

  8. While law schools certainly lie about the “versatility” of a law degree, are any of these trash heaps really trying to lure in more lemmings by promising them that they will become CEOs of Fortune 500 companies? All that is cited here is an obscure three year old magazine article and a reddit post. This seems like a strawman argument to me.

    1. Never, ever underestimate the breadth of the shill, the audacity of the claims.

    2. I don't underestimate them. Just don't see a need to make things up.
      How about some posts on the incoming 2013 class numbers?

    3. If you want to dictate the content of the blog, become a contributor and make your own posts.

    4. Not trying to dictate. I put up the ny numbers in a previous post.

  9. One can do ANYTHING with a law degree, right?!?!

    1. One can do anyONE with a law degree! It's an aphrodisiac.

  10. And further up the pyramid you'll find a college dropout like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg calling all the shots.

  11. This is some serious douchebaggery from Inflatedsnake.

    I have almost 20 years of experience working for several US corporations and I've seen a lot. Outside of the legal department, very, very few people in management or leadership roles have JDs. You might run into the occasional JD in Compliance, but that's about it. I knew one Toileteer in Compliance who had a JD.

    Earlier posters hit it on the head. The type of skills that a typical JD learns or leans toward are completely useless to business people. Business people largely view lawyers as pettifogging nuisances and it's the rare attorney who grasps the big picture of what a business's goals are and to help them get there. And those people are the ones that get tapped to head up Legal departments, not companies.

    My company pays me good money to keep me as a barrier between the irritating lawyers and the rest of the organization!

    Most people who are at the top also need to have fairly decent social skills (eliminating 80% of most lawyers right away) but they also need to be fairly mathematically literate. I did not observe a great deal of mathematical literacy at my Toilet.
    Just going to law school these days displays a pretty stunning level of mathematical illiteracy.

  12. 46 out of 498 fortune 500 ceo's are jd in 2012

    1. Thanks, I want to read that.

      I'm dying to know how many CEO's used business as a backup career when they didn't find FT attorney positions coming out of Touro, Ohio Northern, or USF.

    2. JD = ticket to Fortune 500 CEO = millions of dollars salary = attend elite North Ohio law school = ride 143 LSAT to global elite decision maker status = the glossy brochures were true, not deceptive = we need more lawyers in America because we need more Fortune 500 CEOs

  13. JDs who think they will become a ceo are absolutely correct. Of course, ceo stands for crap employment opportunist.

  14. How about a fantasy of the Socratic BED-room?

    A JD will sharpen your mind and transform you into a tiger in bed. You'll be able to intellectually undress your partner, quickly bypass the offer/consideration, and proceed directly to the acceptance of your big judgment. Motion to withdraw? Denied.

    You'll be a regular bedroom powerhouse with your JD--

    "Shut up, bitch! Before you gag on my big 8-incher, tell me the procedure in Pennoyer v. Neff! What did the trial court hold, you filthy bitch?


    What's that? You're unprepared? Well bend over, slut, and allow me to socratamize you. The Bluebook recognizes "but see" as a signal, and I sure see your butt. {Mounting/inserting]. You're kinda like my JD, bitch-- a versatile bottom!

    You like getting nailed by the King of Torts, don't you?

    --- Fuck me, your majesty! Harder. Harder. Grade me on a curve! Call on me cold. I'm just a CEO... a C*nt Expecting Orgasm.

    Yep. That good old JD will take you from boardroom to bedroom ...

    Just wear your protection.

  15. A JD is a good example of a versatile bottom. Total bottom.

  16. What if one got JD as a way to supplement his skillset while working full time as an accountant, and become a CPA/JD. That is what I did, kept my job through full time top 25 law school, and have it now. My monthly loan payment on a 20 year plan is 360. a month, which is, relatively to other bills like mortgage, petty change in our household. I do not plan to wait for 20 years to pay it off, but that provides flexibility, since I can pay it off all at once. Still in my pre-law school, during-law school job, looking for new opportunities, particularly with the feds. I mean, if you planned well and you have the finances to hold out for years for the right opportunity, I think law school tuition can be profitable in the end. I mean, look at this guy -

    Another alumni guy with cpa/jd came to our law school to talk, he is a cfo with a big company, 2 mil a year he makes. What JD can do for experienced accountants, at least sometimes, is adding an oomph to an otherwise sooty trade occupation full of retards. Thus, it MAY be valuable. I am not advocating the broad versatility of JD, but am just saying that for CPAs with a firm financial foundation and a perm job JD may sometimes deliver as decent ROI.

    1. "Another alumni guy with cpa/jd came to our law school to talk, he is a cfo with a big company, 2 mil a year he makes."

      post the linkedin of the alumni. maybe he had other inroads and the jd aspect of the jd/cpa combo was irrelevant

    2. yeah i will post his bio and out myself. right away sir.

  17. Accountant/CPAs are probably desirable to accounting firms, but that would be it I would guess. If you want to be a tax attorney, having a CPA is far from a requirement.