It is common for lawyers to wonder if an MBA is worthwhile. After all, if you already have a successful legal career, how will an MBA add value?
According to attorney Holly Logue, WG’20, it comes down to opportunities. “A lot of lawyers go deep into a particular area of law and are happy pursuing opportunities within that area. However, if you want to be exposed to different areas of law and are interested in using the structure of law to enhance business, then an MBA is worth it because it will open up those opportunities,” she said.
Holly explained, “Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives is tailor made for lawyers like me who have practiced long enough to become good at being a lawyer but are still open minded and curious about business.”
Deciding on Wharton
Of course, wanting an MBA and deciding to actually go to school are two different things, noted Holly. Before Wharton, she was in private practice and felt “boxed in” as a lawyer yet committing to an MBA program felt overwhelming. So, she broke the process down into manageable steps.
Her first step included taking the GMAT and researching EMBA programs. Having moved to the Bay Area, she narrowed her choices to Wharton and another program. After gaining admission to both schools, her next steps involved deciding: Which program was the better fit? Would she take out loans to pay for it?
Holly turned to her mom for advice. “She encouraged me to go to Wharton because it is an Ivy League school, and she was right. I knew this program would provide the rigor I wanted along with a cohort of driven, smart students with extra drive,” she said.
As for self-sponsorship, Holly again turned to her mother for advice. “My mom said that I will have one set of choices if I added this to my education and another, very different, set of choices if I did not. I sat with that advice for a while and realized she was right. I wanted optionality and a broader set of choices, so I took a leap of faith and took out loans.”
Achieving Her Career Goal
When Holly started Wharton’s EMBA program, her goal was to become general counsel at a startup and help it grow. Six months later, she achieved her goal when she became general counsel at Drawbridge Health.
Unfortunately, that startup folded after graduation and Holly found herself looking for a new position. “It was stressful, but it was also a test for the value of my Wharton education. As I began looking around, I immediately saw the impact of having Wharton on my resume and the difference in how I interviewed for positions given my new perspective with the Wharton MBA. I asked a lot of questions about the business and objectives for each company, not just their legal needs but rather their goals. I had several job offers from people who made it clear that while my legal experience was impressive, what made me their top candidate choice was my business knowledge and understanding business strategy.”
She said, “I was very aware that during the interview process I was using the skills I learned at Wharton to assess each opportunity and the respective risk, as well as how each role and company fit into my career strategy. This is definitely not the way I approached job interviews in the past. I have never had a moment in my career where I have had so many opportunities presented at once, and where I was driving the process of deciding what was best for my future.”
Holly added, “My mom was right about having a very different set of choices because of Wharton!”
Today, Holly is general counsel at Holmusk, a data science and health technology company in New York City. “I’m the first in-house counsel for a 100-person company that is rapidly growing. In addition to legal matters, I am also leading HR and finance and I am heavily involved in forming the diversity and inclusion and mentorship programs,” she said.
On the legal side, Holly is helping structure ongoing transactions and agreements with global companies. “I’m using my 20 years of legal experience, but when working with commercial teams, I can think about our commercial goals and contribute to those conversations. I also took over heading our HR department and am working to build our company’s culture, applying many of the frameworks learned at Wharton. As for finance, our CFO moved to a different company, so I am filling in that role and applying many concepts learned in school like valuation and modeling.”
The biggest takeaway from Wharton, noted Holly, is having a new mindset. She explained, “Wharton taught me to think differently as a lawyer. Before, I could see business issues through a legal lens, but now I see legal issues through a business lens.”
She added, “Lawyers are extraordinarily risk averse and there is inherent risk in business. I can now look at the risk and assign it a probability and support the company’s decision. I understand that risk is part of growing a business and my job is to manage that risk to help the company succeed. This is a completely different mindset and one I will take with me throughout the rest of my career.”
— By Meghan Laska
Posted: December 13, 2021