Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Harvard | Mr. Low GRE
GRE 314, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Do Little
GRE 335, GPA 3.6 (High Distinction)
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tier 2 Consultant
GMAT 770, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Latin American
GMAT 770, GPA 8 of 10
Columbia | Mr. Brandless
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Ms. Decision Scientist
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Ambivalent Applicant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. Reinvention
GMAT 780, GPA 2.3
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Green CPA
GMAT 690, GPA 3.96
Harvard | Mr. Infantry Commander
GMAT 730, GPA 3.178
Tuck | Mr. Mega Bank
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Latin International
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Indian Deferred
GMAT Will take next month but expecting 750+, GPA 8.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Immigrant Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
NYU Stern | Mr. Media Tech Hopeful
GRE 321, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future MBA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
Wharton | Mr. Biotech Social Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Indian Data Guy
GRE 325, GPA 7.06
NYU Stern | Mr. Beer Guy
GRE 306, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. HR To Finance
GMAT 760, GPA 7.65/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Social To Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5

Can You Get Into A Top MBA Program?

Mr. Disenchanted Lawyer

  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics and government from a top 50 Northeast liberal arts college
  • Law degree with “median grades” from a top 14 law school
  • Work experience includes two years in East Coast state attorney general’s office doing regulatory enforcement, and currently at a solid, but not well known civil litigation firm for one year; law school internships with a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Attorney’s office
  • Extracurricular involvement as a varsity athlete in college; Habitat spring break trips; president of student club in law school, coached high school sports team while working for AG’s office; volunteer with congressional and gubernatorial campaigns, avid sailor
  • Goal: To go into management consulting or a Fortune 100 management program to learn best practices and gain business/finance experience, then transition into public-sector or non-profit executive management, possibly in energy or financial regulation.
  • “I like some things about law, but it is not a good fit overall because it is too much of a support role and I want to be more involved in actual decision making and leadership of organizations. Coming out of college, I was naive and fell for the idea that a JD is versatile and would be good for business in addition to law. Applied to consulting firms after law school but no luck.  Will the lawyer stigma kill my chances at top schools?”
  • 28-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10%

Wharton: 30%

MIT: 20% to 35%

Kellogg: 30% to 40%

Chicago: 30% to 40%

Yale: 30% to 40%

Dartmouth: 30%

Cornell: 30% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmm, HBS rarely takes practicing lawyers and when they do, those rare birds often had gone to Harvard, Yale, or Stanford law schools and were working for Gold Plated firms, the names of which currently I don’t know, but you do.

OK, I just looked up the “most prestigious law firms in the world” on The Vault (a good source of reliable snark like this) if anyone cares. Anyway, if you want a chance of getting into HBS from a firm, you probably have to work for a top ~10 on that list. Other practicing lawyers might get into HBS after federal clerkships but they also, in almost all cases, went to top three or at most top five law schools. Your top-14 law school, internships with Senator and U.S. Attorney, post-grad gig at state A.G. and regulatory gigs are not going to cut it.

That may be true at Wharton as well, which is more open to types like you, but at Wharton you are an acceptable reach, especially since your GPA (3.6) and GMAT (750) are real strong. MIT don’t go for types like you, as a rule, given that your concerns and vision, viz.,  “transition into public-sector or non-profit executive management, possibly in energy or financial regulation. . . .” is a head-scratcher over there. Well, not so much a head-scratcher as an eye-glazer. On the other hand, a 3.6 and 750 will always perk MIT up, no matter what you say you want to do, sooooooooooooooo, score MIT as another long shot.

At other schools you mention (Kellogg, Booth, Yale, Tuck and Cornell) you should get a fair hearing, since you are their type, well, one of their types (unhappy but hard-working 1950’s White Male, sailor, civic minded, athlete, not afraid to snuggle up with a pillow full of government regulations but would rather be working for McKinsey), and your stats are American Express Gold Card. I think you might be able to get into one of those places, with serviceable execution, and then break back into consulting. As an ex-lawyer myself, with some similar gigs, I both understand where you are coming from and wish you success in saving your life.

Handicapping Your MBA Odds–The Entire Series

Part I: Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School

Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

Part III: Your Chances of Getting In

Part IV: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part V: Can You Get Into HBS, Stanford or Wharton?

Part VI: Handicapping Your Dream School Odds

Part VII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part VIII: Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

Part IX: Handicapping Your B-School Chances

Part X: What Are Your Odds of Getting In?

Part XI: Breaking Through the Elite B-School Screen

Part XII: Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Part XIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIV: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XV: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVI: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVII: What Are Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVIII: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIX: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XX: What Are Your Odds Of Getting In

Part XXI: Handicapping Your Odds of Acceptance

Part XXII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

Part XXIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXIV: Do You Have The Right Stuff To Get In

Part XXV: Your Odds of Getting Into A Top MBA Program

Part XXVI: Calculating Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXVII: Breaking Through The Elite MBA Screen

Part XXVIII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part XXIX: Can You Get Into A Great B-School

Part XXX: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXXI: Calculating Your Odds of Admission

Part XXXII: Handicapping Your Elite MBA Chances

Part XXXIII: Getting Into Your Dream School

Part XXXIV: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part XXXV: Calculating Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXXVI: What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

Part XXXVII: Handicapping Your Business School Odds

Part XXXVIII: Assessing Your B-School Odds Of Making It

Part XXXIX: Handicapping MBA Applicant Odds

Part XL: What Are Your Odds of Getting In

Part XLI: Handicapping Your Odds of MBA Success

Part XLII: What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

Part XLIII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.