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Does Having an MBA along with a JD Help in Landing a Job?

Q: I currently have a BA in Organizational Management, and a MBA from National University, which is not a B school. I am interested in going to law school and wanted to know if my MBA would help me find a job after I obtain by JD and pass the Bar exam? I also wanted to know what kind of law I could specialize in given my education background?

A: Regrettably, I would expect that your MBA, though hard-earned, will prove of marginal value to you in finding a legal job after you graduate from law school and pass the Bar. Far more important will be the quality of the law school you attend and your academic standing at the school. Most law students have little opportunity to specialize extensively in a field of law during law school, but I imagine you will want to be sure to take one or more courses on corporate law and possible corporate tax. You might eventually enjoy practicing law "in-house," in the legal office of a private corporation, where your MBA and business background would be of value.

Even if an MBA doesn't help you get a job a combined business and law background might still be useful and relevant in many other fields of law. In the long run, an attorney with a special skill set and better education in the market they serve, will be more successful in their career. So, while your degree may not help you get your first job it may still serve you if you choose to pursue a career in the law.

A law degree might also serve to advance you in business. Many prominent business leaders have an education in the law. Just in the same way that an attorney trained in business may be attractive to a law firm focusing on serving businesses a company may find it in their interests to hire managers or officers that have legal training.

Alternatively, your education in business management could help you successfully establish a law firm of your own. Law firms, particularly new ones, can suffer from a lack of business acumen. Competent lawyers do not always appreciate business concerns and a strong foundation in the fundamentals of business may end up giving you the edge in the legal market.

Whether attempting to use your business degrees to advance your legal career, or a law degree to advance your business career, it will be difficult to predict which skills or knowledge will help create an opportunity for you.

Fortunately, it is premature to reach decision on any of this. Your first task is to gain admission to a good law school. After that, the process of studying and working in law will carry you along to your next professional decision, which you are free to amend at any time. Regardless of the decisions you make, you will be best served to remain flexible and prepared to explain to potential employers how your specific skills and experiences can meet their individual needs.

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