Ask any seasoned CEO, and they will tell you that the path to getting into such a coveted position is never linear. Every professional goes through an arduous and often twisted journey to earn the title of chief executive officer. While many companies and businesses might seek candidates with an MBA, more organizations are seeing the benefits of hiring CEOs with a legal background. With this in mind, here are a few ways a law degree could make you a more formidable CEO candidate.
If your LSAT scores reveal impressive results, and you’ve successfully completed law school as well as passed the bar exam – these are impressive testimonies as to your ability to accomplish the goals you set out to achieve. For an employer, applicants who master the challenges entailed with earning a JD (Juris Doctor degree) make a statement about that candidate’s determination to succeed.
According to a study co-authored by Feng Chen, Associate Professor of Accounting at the University of Toronto, companies who have JD CEOs on board are 74% less likely to be stricken with lawsuits. This makes sense because having an attorney as a CEO discourages other companies from litigating for obvious reasons. Less litigation means a ton of savings for any hiring company. Furthermore, as a JD CEO, you can save a company the expense of hiring a litigation team if a lawsuit does transpire.
Because you are familiar with the law, as a JD CEO, you are in the perfect position to protect the company from making egregious mistakes. Knowing the law is key to avoiding costly decisions. Therefore, your background in law is essential to helping a company skirt legal missteps and makes you more effective at dealing with possible legal issues as well as navigating the company to more successful outcomes.
Understanding the law is certainly an asset in any CEO candidate. However, understanding people and how to communicate with them is an even more crucial asset that employers are looking for in CEOs. JDs are trained to scrutinize abstracts and formulate a skillful argument for or against the topic. This not only requires impressive analytical thinking, but it also takes powerful communication skills. In other words, lawyer CEOs are trained and skilled to have a precise way of getting their team, clients and management on the same page in terms of communication.
When startup companies are looking for a chief executive to lead their new business into success, they may assume an MBA is the best option. In truth, as a JD you are likely equipped with rock-solid understanding of business legal structures. Your knowledge of contracts, liability issues, property law and other legal areas can put a startup on solid footing to succeed long into the future.
As an attorney, you are uniquely trained to win cases for your clients. In a CEO setting, that determination and ability to advocate successfully is translated into the business world. That means you are excellently qualified to negotiate better deals on behalf of your hiring company. It also makes you fiercely competitive, which is a crucial asset many hiring companies are looking for in a CEO candidate.
Anyone who has gone through law school knows that critical thinking is one of the most important skills that is taught through coursework. In essence, those three years of law school teaches you how to think in a way that renders amicable results in even the most disagreeable situations. The process of deconstructing arguments down to essential parts in order to move forward with optimal decision making power is at the core of critical thinking. And, as an attorney, you’ve learned this in spades.
At the end of the day, a hiring company is looking for a qualified candidate who fits in with the culture of the company. They are also looking for skilled professionals who know how to handle high-pressure situations.
As we observed in the aforementioned examples, your law degree can help you shine over your competition. When you add up all the advantages your law degree implies, you will see you should be a highly-coveted candidate for any company seeking a superior CEO.