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Should I Get a Joint JD/MBA Degree: Pros and Cons to Consider

published April 13, 2023

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( 226 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
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Summary

In today's highly competitive legal job market, many law school graduates are considering the benefits of having both a JD and a MBA degree. Pursuing a JD/MBA (Joint Degree in Law and Business Administration) is becoming more and more popular among recent law school graduates. This type of dual degree program offers a number of benefits, including enhanced employment opportunities and increased earning potential.

Both law and business schools work together to provide students with a comprehensive education in the areas of business and law. This program combines the best of both worlds, providing students with the necessary skills to be successful in the legal industry, as well as the insight needed to navigate the often complex aspects of business.

When deciding whether to pursue a JD/MBA program, it is important to understand the degree requirements, the admissions process, and the financial implications. In order to be eligible for admission to most JD/MBA programs, students must already possess a law degree. Most programs also require LSAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Due to the high cost of tuition, it is important to consider the financial aspects of the program. Most law and business schools offer a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, loans, and more. Additionally, many schools offer flexible payment options, making the cost of a JD/MBA more affordable.

Another important factor to consider is the job market for graduates of JD/MBA programs. Despite the current economic downturn, the job market for professionals with a joint degree in law and business is strong. Graduates of these programs are attractive to employers, as they have the skills necessary to work in multiple sectors.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to pursue a JD/MBA program comes down to individual goals and preferences. Those who are looking to increase their earning potential, transition to a new career field, or gain an edge in the competitive legal job market should weigh the costs and benefits of obtaining a JD/MBA.

For recent law school graduates who are deciding whether or not to pursue a Joint Degree in Law and Business Administration (JD/MBA), there are a number of factors that must be considered. Degree requirements, admissions process, financial implications, and job prospects should all be weighed before making a decision. With the right support and resources, graduates of JD/MBA programs have the potential to increase their earning potential and stand out from the competition in the highly competitive legal job market.
 

Considering a J.D. & MBA

For individuals considering whether to pursue a J.D. & MBA at the same time, it is a significant decision that will likely have major impact on one's personal, professional and financial future. Many individuals are considering a joint degree program such as this one due to the way that it can increase their employability and earning potential after graduation. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of the decision before making it.
 

Pros of Doing a J.D. & MBA Jointly

Doing a J.D. & MBA jointly offers a number of advantages for prospective law students. One of the most compelling reasons for doing a joint degree is its potential to significantly increase one's salary and job prospects. The increased skillset can open doors to more challenging or specialized legal positions or jobs with higher pay. Other potential benefits include the ability to switch between legal and business specialties, an easier transition into leadership roles, and the ability to move between the legal and business worlds quickly.
 

Learning Opportunities & Enrichment

Pursuing a joint degree like the J.D & MBA can also provide a unique opportunity to explore other legal or business specialties. Having knowledge in both areas can give individuals a better understanding of how to use the law to their advantage when making decisions or pursuing certain business initiatives. Additionally, the combination of the two curriculums can help individuals gain a better understanding of business and legal concepts, making graduates more well rounded.
 

Financial Considerations

Although there are numerous benefits associated with pursuing a joint degree like the J.D & MBA, doing so does also come with certain financial considerations. A joint degree will usually require longer courses and carry additional tuition costs. It is important to consider whether any potential salary increases may make pursuit of the degree worthwhile. Individuals should also evaluate the financial aid and scholarship options that may be available.

Being from a family who for the past 25 years has been in the hospitality business, Tejal Desai made the natural decision to enroll in Penn State University's joint J.D./MBA program. After he graduates in 2007, Mr. Desai plans to work in the family business.


 
To Pursue a J.D./MBA or Not to Pursue

''An understanding of legal and business concepts is crucial in my family's line of business,'' explained Mr. Desai. ''Our company develops and manages hotels, so we deal with a number of legal issues that arise from real estate transactions, construction, employment, financing, etc.''

The four-year, accredited J.D./MBA program Mr. Desai is enrolled in is offered through Penn State-Dickinson School of Law (DSL) in conjunction with Penn State's Smeal College of Business. Students enrolled in the program must complete 76 credits at DSL. Twelve credits from Smeal may be transferred toward the J.D., and 12 credits are taken from the DSL and transferred to Smeal, both subject to each school's approval.

Because the law school and business school are about 82 miles apart, students complete their first two years at the law school and then go to the business school for the final two. Mr. Desai is finishing up his second year of law school this spring and will begin at Smeal in the fall. Mr. Desai said he considered the joint program because he could get both degrees in a shorter span of time.

''I am not planning on going into business as a lawyer, so an MBA really is necessary,'' said Mr. Desai. ''Penn State's Smeal College of Business was attractive to me because it is one of the top-tier business schools in this country.''

A growing number of universities nationwide is offering joint J.D./MBA programs for students interested in pursuing both degrees at the same time for their personal career objectives. And some recruiters are taking notice.

''The line between analytical skills needed in business and law is fading. Corporate deals have become more complex and can require the acumen of an MBA,'' said Nancy Zeldis of Zeldis & CO., Attorney Legal Search in New York.

Ms. Zeldis said the MBA is becoming, in a sense, the new English degree, ''part of broad training that is appealing.'' She said the skill set of an MBA is more noticeable to a recruiter who is seeking an in-house corporate lawyer, because in-house lawyers tend to be more in tune with the business side of operations. ''The value of the MBA is the same as the J.D. in competitive New York City. Unless the applicant is in the top 1 percent of the class, an MBA from Pace University will not be as sexy as an MBA from Penn.''

In contrast, Roberta Kass, who has a J.D./MBA from UCLA, has been a legal recruiter for the past 20 years and does not see a great demand for the combined degree.

''We have not seen a marked increase in requests for J.D./MBAs,'' explained Ms. Kass, who works for Seltzer Fontaine Beckwith in Los Angeles. ''At any given time, we have some clients who specify a preference for an attorney with a CPA, an MBA, or hands-on business experience. These jobs are not necessarily restricted to corporate transactional or in-house positions—comfort with numbers is also welcomed in certain types of litigation.''

From a personal perspective, her J.D./MBA exposed her to capital markets and accounting principles, and gave her insight into the business world that she didn't receive in law school. But Ms. Kass admits as a practicing attorney she has used very little of that knowledge base.

''Speaking from the perspective of our typical client—large corporate law firms—as much as the law firm or corporation might appreciate the MBA, they want to feel that the attorney they are hiring is serious about practicing law, as opposed to being a businessperson,'' Ms. Kass said. ''If someone has both degrees and decides to go the business route before putting their law degree to use, it can be a difficult hurdle to surmount.''

While joint J.D./MBAs are an option, some skip the idea of dual programs altogether, opting to go to law school first to get some real-world experience before returning to school to pursue an MBA degree.

''I went back for my MBA after I had cut my teeth in three large law firms and was set to be made a partner in the third,'' said George W. Kuney, Associate Professor and Director, Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law, the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Mr. Kuney got his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and seven years later his MBA from the University of San Diego. He chose this route because he believed it would make him more ''versatile and mobile'' and give him new insights into his practice and how law can be run as a business. He also felt it would assist him in speaking with and relating to his clients because, as he points out, ''law and business have their own vocabularies, often using overlapping terms to mean different things.''

Mr. Kuney said that MBA students will get more out of their programs if they get real-world legal work experience before entering the program. Linnea McCord, a Professor of Business Law at the Graziadio School of Business and Management of Pepperdine University, agrees. Ms. McCord received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and, years later, an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

''From my perspective, attending business school several years after graduating from law school was very beneficial. By the time I attended business school, I had significant experience in business [through] practicing law, which made it much easier for me to understand business concepts in the MBA program,'' she said.

Whether a J.D., a dual degree, or separate J.D. and MBA degrees, deciding which to pursue really is an individual choice. Both Ms. McCord and Mr. Kuney feel the degrees can prove advantageous in one's career, depending on how one plans to use them.

What if a student is planning on going into business anyway as a lawyer? Would an MBA really be that necessary? Mr. Kuney says no. He said that while law firms might value the additional MBA degree, most would prefer an LL.M. in tax from a reputable program instead.

''The practical bottom line is that most attorneys don't have MBAs and don't think you need one to work with or for them,'' said Mr. Kuney. ''To run one's own firm or participate in management of a larger one, an MBA is helpful, but, again, not required. In fact, most large firms have one or more persons on staff with MBA or other advanced business and finance degrees to assist in the management of the firm.''

Nonetheless, for those strictly interested in dual-degree programs, Mr. Kuney does advise that students first find out if their programs are truly joint-degree programs, as opposed to a credit-sharing arrangement between a business school and a law school.

''The former is preferable in terms of an integrated educational experience that can be transformational in terms of thinking about business and law simultaneously. The latter is useful, but not prone to create as deep an impact.''

Mr. Kuney's final bit of advice: ''Do not pursue more degrees than you reasonably need to the unreasonable detriment of any of them. Education will be worth what you do with it, not how much you have.''

published April 13, 2023

( 226 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.