Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Joint JD/MBA degree

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

What are the pros and cons of getting a joint MBA/JD degree?

Background and context

A J.D./M.B.A. or M.B.A./J.D. is a dual degree program offered jointly by many law and business schools. The program generally lasts four years (saving one year over completing both degrees separately) and results in the candidate earning both a Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Business Administration degree.
Students may apply to the joint program before matriculating to either program, or after matriculating to either law school or business school. Graduating J.D./M.B.A. students may choose to practice law, or enter the business world. Even though a majority of JD/MBAs graduate from a single university, there are people who earn these degrees from different universities. Some prominent law firms, like Goodwin Procter and Paul Hastings, give generous signing bonuses (e.g., $20k) to incoming first-year associates who hold JD/MBA degrees. In fact, Goodwin Procter has launched a "JD/MBA initiative" to attract more JD/MBA applicants. But, on the other hand, many worry that having a JD/MBA will be looked down upon by law firms as indicating an ambiguity or lack of dedication to practicing law long-term. Others wonder whether JD/MBAs ever actually use both degrees, or if in reality they just go into business or law (in which case they may only need one or the other degree). Cost considerations also come into play in this debate, with a four year program being particularly costly both in terms of money invested, money not earned over the four years, and opportunity costs (including time which could be used to climb the ranks of an industry or business). These and other pros and cons are outlined below.
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Career tracks: What careers are well suited for JD/MBA's?

[Add New]

Pro

  • JD/MBA ideal for corporate law American University JD/MBA program: "JD/MBA graduates are well equipped for careers in mergers and acquisitions, international business and business management, and positions such as in-house business counsel, outside legal advisor, and lobbyist."[1]
  • JD/MBA is well suited for a number of specialized fields. "Why You Should Consider a JD MBA." My MBA Career.: "There are many specialties in both business and legal practice that are well-suited to someone with an MBA JD degree. The following areas have applications in both business and law: Contracts, Business consulting, Government, Mergers and acquisitions, Patent law, Regulatory compliance, Lobbying, Labor relations."
  • JD/MBA valuable for in-house counsel in a company. One of the major, desirable fields of law is in-house counsel for a large or medium size company (or a non-profit organization). A JD/MBA provides the perfect cross-section of business and legal acumen for such a position.
  • JD/MBA is great for mergers and acquisitions. "MBA vs MBA/JD joint degree." Google Answers. November 5, 2006: "in what parts of the business world would a JD/MBA thrive without requiring that person to be a lawyer? Well, while one does need to be a lawyer in order to practice law, one does not need to be a lawyer in order to deal with lawyers on behalf of an employer. There are several areas of business where this sort of situation arises. For example, strategic mergers and acquisitions require someone who can see the big picture and who can understand all of the legal ramifications throughout the negotiations in order to ensure that the final deal is beneficial to their side. This person should be separate from the actual legal team drafting and reviewing the deal, in order to remain objective and focused on the business aspects of the deal. An MBA with a JD, would be ideal for this role."
  • JD/MBA good background for labor relations. "MBA vs MBA/JD joint degree." Google Answers. November 5, 2006: "Another example would be in labor relations. Again, this is a field that tends to involve a lot of lawyers, so anyone on the business side really needs to be cognizant of the legal aspects of any problems that come up, and be able to understand the actions and recommendations of the lawyers. This encompasses everything from dealing with unions, to dealing with multi-million-dollar sports stars and their agents. More and more, the executive positions in major sports team organizations are being filled by individuals who combine expertise in two areas: business/sports management, and contracts/negotiations. An example of this is Peter Chiarelli, the GM of the NHL's Boston Bruins: http://www.bostonbruins.com/team/coach.asp?coachid=122"
  • JD/MBA valuable in a political/legislative career. "MBA vs MBA/JD joint degree." Google Answers. November 5, 2006: "Yet another example of a career where a JD is a definite asset, but not a requirement, is politics. Generally, no education is required to be a politician (and I'll avoid the obvious opportunity to make a wisecrack here). However, given that our elected representatives are the ones who vote on the laws of the land, definitely a JD (and an MBA) would be an asset in making the right decisions."
  • JD/MBA very applicable to career in consulting. "MBA vs MBA/JD joint degree." Google Answers. November 5, 2006: "On a more positive note, a JD/MBA can also - in the hands of the right individual - fast-track a journey through the consulting world. Major consulting firms are always looking for people who can relate well with their clients. Whether the client is a law firm, a company looking for advice on a merger or acquisition, or a corporate client struggling to survive in the face of legal battles involving patents or other intellectual property rights, a consultant who can 'talk the talk' will often be able to deliver a better customer experience. Again, I can relate to this, as consulting firms also hire engineers/MBAs to work with their tech clients. It imparts instant credibility to the consulting firm when they can send in consultants who actually understand what the client's business actually does!"
  • JD/MBA great for a career in politics and government. "Why You Should Consider a JD MBA." My MBA Career: "An MBA JD degree is also useful if you are considering a career in politics or government. Even if you don't plan to practice law or work in a business setting, there are many ways in which an MBA JD degree can help you prepare for a job in public service. Your range of knowledge will make you a valuable addition to any campaign, political staff or government office. In the same vein, government organizations are constantly working with private business and legal firms, and a JD MBA graduate is perfectly suited to such work."


[Add New]

Con

  • JD/MBAs usually end-up just choosing business or legal careers. "JD/MBA- Like 'supersizing' a fast food meal, when you're not really hungry?" Law School Labyrinth. July 17th, 2009: "I tend to believe that a JD/MBA is not worth the additional educational investment. It's sort of like 'super sizing' your fast food meal, when your not really hungry. In other words, an MBA is a waste, if you really want to become a lawyer. And a JD is unnecessary, if you really want to become a businessperson. Simply, a JD/MBA will mean virtually nothing, if you plan to work in a law firm. Legal work is so technical and so specific, that from your very first day on the job a a lawyer, you will find yourself drawn increasingly into a specialty practice area. All of your assignments will accrete to that specialty and, generally speaking, one day you will wake up and realize that you have become a skilled litigator, transactionalist, family lawyer and the like. In other words, the only way to become a lawyer, is to engage in your practice."
Neetal Parekh. "Should I JD/MBA?" FindLaw. December 21, 2009: "1. Do you want to practice law or be in business? Law and business are related, but they aren't the same. Many holders of the popular joint degree combo say that ultimately you end up doing one or the other."
  • Biz career best pursued via JD, law firm, in-house (not JD/MBA). "JD/MBA- Like 'supersizing' a fast food meal, when you're not really hungry?" Law School Labyrinth. July 17th, 2009: "If your goal is ultimately to become a business lawyer and/or corporate titan, and you feel strongly that a JD/MBA will get you there, let me offer a lower-cost alternative. First of all, bet the best grades that you possibly can, in the hopes of landing a good job with a decent firm. Today, virtually all significant transactional work is going to the big, prestigious firms. So your goal should be to get a job with one of these firms. The only way that will happen is if you succeed hugely in your first year of law school.If you are fortunate enough to land one of these firm jobs, the rest will pretty much take care of itself. This is because these firms do sophisticated work for business clients. These business clients are constantly seeking ways to reduce legal expenses. The best way to do this is to bring as much legal work in-house as possible. So, you go to work for a good firm in their transactional practice area and within 3-5 years, it is likely you will get a job offer to go in-house. Once you are in-house, you will work on a daily basis with businesspeople, and often with senior management. Candidly, your legal education and background will give you a huge advantage. It is likely that you will be among the smartest, most analytical people within the company. This will make you a natural choice for management roles as they become available. By working effectively with businesspeople, you can easily become one, if that is your goal. Further, throughout this process you will be refining your legal skills and gaining valuable business skills in the process. You would be amazed at the number of senior executives in publicly-traded companies who were lawyers first. A lot of them just don't talk about it. So, if you thing a JD/MBA will be your ticket to a successful business career, think again. You would be better served (and save time and money) by becoming a successful lawyer, and then moving in-house. Otherwise, you risk being labeled as neither a lawyer nor businessperson."
  • Value of JD/MBA is somewhat ethereal. "Introduction to the JD/MBA Dual Degree." TopLawSchools.com: "An MBA is not required to get into the financial industry (a JD will often suffice, though the MBA is certainly the most common path to these careers), and an MBA is absolutely not required to practice corporate law for large firms. The value in the JD/MBA, then, is somewhat ethereal."
  • Other joint degrees sometimes better than JD/MBA. Mark Murray. "Are Two Better Than One? The Pros and Cons of Joint Degrees." JD Jungle Magazine: "3. Any other combo? Before you stock up on extra letters with a JD/MBA, take a quick scan at other joint degrees. Though the JD/MBA is the popular kid on the block when it comes to degrees combos with law, there might be other pairings that better align with your ultimate interests. Other joint degrees include Law and Public Policy, or Law and Public Health. For those who are so artistically inclined, a joint degree of Law and MFA might be an option. Or those with a bend towards education, a JD and a Master in Education might make the grade."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Recruiting: Are MBA/JD's attractive to employers?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Some law firms recruit JD/MBAs and give them bonuses. MBA/JD Some prominent law firms, like Goodwin Procter and Paul Hastings, give generous signing bonuses (e.g., $20k) to incoming first-year associates who hold JD/MBA degrees. In fact, Goodwin Procter has launched a "JD/MBA initiative" to attract more JD/MBA applicants.
  • Some law firms give JD/MBAs second year associate status. Some law firms will automatically offer JD/MBAs second year associate status, in effect making up for the extra year they invested in their JD/MBA program (over their JD counter-parts).
  • JD/MBA will not hurt and may help law firm prospects.' "Introduction to the JD/MBA Dual Degree." TopLawSchools.com: "And finally – don’t listen to TLS forum users claiming that a JD/MBA joint degree will hurt your chances of landing a job in BigLaw; this is unfounded with supporting evidence that is apocryphal at best. After speaking with numerous graduates of a JD/MBA programs, career services offices, and law/business professors who have worked in corporate law and the business world, I have been told repeatedly that the impact of the MBA on your legal job hunt will unlikely have any negative effect. It may not move your resume to the top of the stack, and is certainly not as important as what law school you went to or what grades you earned, but it will absolutely not hurt and can often be a good story to tell/angle to take during interviews."
  • Business and law go hand-in-hand; companies value JD/MBAs. "Why You Should Consider a JD MBA." My MBA Career.: "All businesses need guidance to navigate the complexities of the legal system. Whether they're dealing with human resources issues or other compliance issues, most businesses require expert advice from time to time. Because business and the law often go hand-in-hand, someone with an MBA JD (Juris Doctor) degree is a valuable asset for any company."


[Add New]

Con

  • JD/MBAs are disjointed from law firm recruiting process. "JD/MBA- Like 'supersizing' a fast food meal, when you're not really hungry?" Law School Labyrinth. July 17th, 2009: "More importantly, the question is whether the extra year will actually hurt your chances of getting a decent legal job. I had friends in law school who pursued the joint degree and spent an extra year in school. Whenever we talked about things like summer employment, recruiting and jobs, these hapless folks always seemed a bit lost. The were, in essence, a year behind everyone else and the law school OCI process simply wasn't geared to their schedules."
  • JD/MBA unlikely to get you higher salary than JD or MBA alone. "Introduction to the JD/MBA Dual Degree." TopLawSchools.com: "The real rub is that the additional $215,000 you are spending for the MBA (assuming you were already going to law school) is not necessarily going to translate to a higher starting salary. Law firms will not necessarily prefer candidates with a JD/MBA over candidates with just a JD; furthermore, if you go into a field like investment banking, the reality is that any job you take was likely on the table with just your JD (or just your MBA), and your starting salary will be the same (usually ~$150k with bonus)."
  • Higher grades in one more important than having a joint JD/MBA. Mark Murray. "Are Two Better Than One? The Pros and Cons of Joint Degrees." JD Jungle Magazine: "Geoffrey Lee, president of Counsel Source, an attorney recruiting company in Dallas, adds that most law students—intent on solely practicing law after graduation—should focus on improving their class rank rather than chasing down a second degree. From the perspective of a big firm, he argues, having knockout law grades always beats having two degrees, especially if the grades in both disciplines are mediocre. He goes as far as to say that, in this traditional milieu, "the JD-MBA ... is almost a waste of time." If your goal is to one day manage such a firm, however, a JD-MBA could be just the ticket. But from the purely legal side, an MBA doesn't add much value."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Advancement: Is joint JD/MBA valuable to advancing to top?

[Add New]

Pro

  • JD/MBA's have strong prospects for top management advancement. "Why You Should Consider a JD MBA." My MBA Career.: "The prospects for advancement with a JD MBA are strong. Many top management positions go to individuals holding an MBA JD degree. Whatever position you're aiming for, the knowledge you'll gain in school will make you a highly valuable job candidate. But beyond that, the focus and exceptional effort you will expend to earn dual advanced degrees will show a prospective employer that you have the ability and drive to contribute to their business at a high level."


[Add New]

Con


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Cost: Is the cost worth it for a joint JD/MBA?

[Add New]

Pro

  • JD/MBA takes less time/money than each degree separately Pursuing a JD and MBA separately would be five years and an extra $30-60k in tuition and living expenses, as well as another year of not working and making an income (opportunity cost). Joining the two degrees into a four year program shaves a year off of this. And, many top JD/MBA programs have accelerated three year programs, which shaves two years of debt and opportunity cost.
  • Usually one shot at advanced degree; JD/MBA gets both done. "Pros and Cons of a JD/MBA." Veritas Prep. April 8, 2009: "there is an argument to be made for “education volition.” Many subscribe to the thinking that most people really only get the ball rolling on a graduate school education once and so if there is interest in both degrees, you would be best served to go after them all at once. In other words, if you don’t do it now, you never will."
  • Getting into one program sometimes offers backdoor to another. "Pros and Cons of a JD/MBA." Veritas Prep. April 8, 2009: "The other opportunity advantage that pertains more specifically to law students is that getting into an elite law school can sometimes provide a “backdoor” into a great business school. For someone who may not have the work experience, leadership skills, and analytical abilities to get into Harvard Business School in a typical admissions process, one way around that may be to crush the LSAT, pair it with your high GPA, get into Harvard Law and that walk across the Charles River and ask to be let in to HBS."


[Add New]

Con

  • JD/MBA very costly in tuition and opportunity costs. "Introduction to the JD/MBA Dual Degree." TopLawSchools.com: "Not only is a JD/MBA going to cost you an extra year of tuition (~55k, business school tuition rates are even higher than law school rates) but you should also take into account the opportunity cost of one more year of foregone salary. This opportunity cost can be huge especially for a newly minted JD from a top law school who might reasonably expect to earn $160,000 or more in their first year out of school. The real cost of a JD/MBA, then, can be fairly estimated at an additional $215,000, not including the additional accumulation of interest during that extra year in which you are not making loan payments."
  • Saving MBA or JD for later is good career change insurance. "Pros and Cons of a JD/MBA." Veritas Prep. April 8, 2009: "you can have a very 'business school' type of experience at most law schools (through elective courses, cross-curriculum opportunities, and clinical work), while preserving the MBA for a rainy day. In fact, that is the second 'con' to getting both degrees at the same time: you use up your last bullet when you get a JD/MBA. Above, we discussed the school of thought that says you have to capitalize on your educational momentum. There is another school of thought that says to wait and save the MBA as a 'get out of jail free' card in case you need to make a career change down the line. Much of this stems from short-term and long-term career goal considerations, which are the subjects of future entries in this series, but each prospective student should give careful consideration to this notion of saving the MBA as a possible career change option."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Entrepreneurship: Does a joint JD/MBA help here?

[Add New]

Pro

  • JD/MBA offers entrepreneurial skills and credibility. "Advantages of a JD/MBA." JDMBA at BlogSpot. July 6th, 2005: "If you are an entrepreneur at heart like me you may also find that having a JD may make it easier to raise capital for new businesses, etc as it will increase your credibility. My goal is to ultimately start my own hedge fund and or venture capital firm with an emerging market (China) focus."


[Add New]

Con

  • JD/MBA debt limits ability to launch start-up. The huge debt from a JD/MBA, in the ball-park of $100,000 to $250,000, makes it very challenging to launch a start-up, particularly when this might mean working without an income or on low-income for a period of months, a year, or even longer. In general, the debt makes it necessary to seek high paying job positions for at least a decade after obtaining the degree.
  • JD/MBA is no match for actual entrepreneurial experience. Four years spent getting a JD/MBA is no match for four years spent actually trying - and potentially succeeding - at starting-up and running a small business. The theoretical knowledge gained in a JD/MBA does not provide direct practical experience in team-building, developing a revenue model specific to your start-up, marketing your specific business, and pounding the pavement to build contacts and make sales.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Analysis: Does JD/MBA add dynamic value to one's analytical abilities?

[Add New]

Pro

  • JD/MBA degree combines complimentary analytical cultures. Stanford University: "Joint Degree Programs.": "In addition to gaining knowledge of both disciplines, JD/MBA students experience two complementary intellectual cultures: the problem-spotting, analytical culture of law, and the problem-solving, practical culture of business. The combination is an unbeatable formula. Our strategy is to apply this successful model of cross-cultural immersion to other disciplines that fit or underlie the many career paths future lawyers may pursue–from management science and computer science to sociology, economics, environmental policy, bioengineering, education, health policy, politics, and more."
  • JD/MBA fills critical gaps in JD or MBA separately. "Introduction to the JD/MBA Dual Degree." TopLawSchools.com: "law is essentially the mechanism by which business is actually carried out (read: contracts). Law students, however, receive little to no training in business management or in business finances while in law school, while business school students’ educations correspondingly lack training/certifying classes in the mechanisms of contracts. The ultimate solution for those seeking training in both is the JD/MBA joint degree."
  • JD/MBA enhances business problem solving Miriam Rivera, JD/MBA '95, former Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Google: "Throughout my career, I've had to do cutting-edge deals, create new business relationships, invent what had never been done before. My Stanford JD/MBA helped me be more creative, more agile. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to do interesting work, solve sophisticated problems, and understand the complex environment that organizations must navigate to succeed."[2]
  • Deeper knowledge of JD/MBA is always valuable. "Introduction to the JD/MBA Dual Degree." TopLawSchools.com: "And, of course, let’s not discount the satisfaction of study and of knowledge. You will simply know more and possess more skills with a JD/MBA than you would with either degree alone. To some people, this value can be enough to make the dual degree worthwhile. And who knows how you might use these skills later in your career, whether or not they translate into a higher starting salary right now. You never know when you might want to start a business, for example, and it is knowledge and experience that inform our capabilities. A wider and deeper skill set certainly never hurt anyone."


[Add New]

Con

  • It can be hard to get into school of choice for JD and MBA. Neetal Parekh. "Should I JD/MBA?" FindLaw. December 21, 2009: "2. Will you be able to do both at the school you want? Depending on how admissions are structured, a very real consideration is whether you can do the dual degree at the school you want. Depending on your test scores, work experience, and prior GPA you might be able to get into a more competitive school for either one independently. But sometimes universities try to help students that already enrolled in one of their programs complete the dual degree. A call to the admission staffs might help demystify the process."
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Pro/con sources

[Add New]

Pro


[Add New]

Con


See also

External links and resources

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.