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Lookie Here: An Online MBA in Running a Law Practice!

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By William Peacock, Esq. on December 22, 2014 12:52 PM

What's the worst possible decision you can make after paying six figures for a law degree that isn't paying off?

If "take on more non-dischargable student loan debt" was your answer, the William Howard Taft University MBA in Professional Practice Management is probably not for you. But, if you don't mind a little extra debt, a degree that teaches you what you should've learned in law school, and a diploma from a place nobody has ever heard of, maybe the WHTU MBA-PPM is for you!

SOL Alumni

It came in one of those nice, thick stationary envelopes -- not your Office Depot bottom-shelf kind, the kind that says, "This is important." On the outside of the envelope, it noted that I was one of many "Washington & Lee SOL Alumni."

And on the inside? A letter telling me that if I was employed and fully satisfied by life, that I should tear the letter up! But if not, for a low price, I could get magic all-natural pills that will make me last ... oh wait, wrong letter.

No, this letter says that if you are unsatisfied with your legal career, an MBA in practice management might be a good idea. And the degree is approved for Title IV Federal Financial Aid, which means you can take out more student loans to cover the cost, allowing your other loans to sit in deferment and collect interest while you embark upon this new, promising educational endeavor.

Should You Do It?

No. Seriously, no. An MBA in running your own practice is like using a machine gun to hunt a squirrel -- it'll work, but it is a big, big waste.

Over at the Faculty Lounge, they estimate that this thing will cost you $18,000. That actually seems like an underestimate -- 36 credits x $495 per credit, plus an assortment of enrollment and diploma fees, and an estimated (by the school) $150 per class in books and materials, means you'll easily cross the $20,000 mark.

Here's the real problem: You should've learned this stuff in law school. IOLTA accounts, basic accounting and taxation, and ethical marketing are all basics that grads who aren't going into BigLaw or public interest -- the majority of grads -- should know. Except, self-employment doesn't help schools' employment statistics with either the ABA or the U.S. News and World Report rankings, so there is no incentive for schools to teach you about running a small firm.

You know where you do learn this? Books. blogs, mentors, CLEs, local bar association meetups, and through experience. Diving in and practicing, especially by starting your own firm, is a little terrifying. But paying another $20,000 for a useless diploma from an online paper mill is not the answer for "newly admitted attorneys" who "are facing economic challenges that didn't exist at the time that they decided to attend law school."

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