As the legal job market evolves and law students face greater job competition upon graduation, you may want to consider different ways that you can stand out, such as by adding more degrees and skills to your resume. While some lawyers choose to go back to law school for an LLM after they graduate, others pursue their Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) through a joint JD/MBA degree program. A dual degree can come in handy if you're thinking of pursuing a career in business law, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, or other business fields.
However, earning a JD is a great challenge on its own and adding another degree to the mix isn't for everyone. There are many factors you should consider before choosing a dual degree program, so it's important to do your homework before making your decision.
What Does A JD/MBA Program Look Like?
Typically, a joint degree program adds an additional year to a full-time law school program. For MBA students, this means roughly doubling their time in graduate school. However, some law schools, like Columbia Law School, offer accelerated three-year joint degree programs.
Many JD/MBA programs keep your typical JD coursework intact during your first year of law school. For example, you might take all of your 1L courses during your first year, followed by a semester or year of business courses, and then another semester or year of law courses. Keep in mind that some electives, such as corporate law or bankruptcy law, may give you overlapping credit for both degrees.
Most schools offering joint degree programs require a separate application and have a separate admissions process for each school. This means that to participate in a joint degree program, you will likely have to submit multiple applications that you would need to be accepted by both schools.
Prepping for the LSAT alone can require a lot of time and attention. For the JD/MBA application process, you'll likely have to take both the LSAT and the GMAT, or possibly the GRE, depending on your master's program.
JD/MBA: Pros and Cons
Adding another layer of study to your law degree can definitely add to the stress and challenge of law school, not to mention the additional costs of tuition and books and the time that your MBA program may take away from law school pursuits. This loss of time may prove to be the biggest challenge with a joint degree program. After all, many of the professional benefits that you get from law school occur outside of the classroom, such as:
- Law journals
- Student organizations
- Networking events (symposiums, guest speakers)
- Work experience
So, in this sense, adding an MBA to your JD can prove to be more of a distraction, especially if you're not on the same track as your fellow law students and are pulled into the business orbit for a semester or a year.
That being said, there are also many upsides. Although there aren't any careers that require both credentials, as a joint degree student, you build networks in both business and legal circles. Should you choose to practice law after you graduate, unlike many of your law school peers, you're going to have relationships within the business world ( among both your MBA peers and your business school alumni networks).
In addition, if you're planning on opening a solo practice after you graduate, you'll have business training to help you succeed. In fact, it's often a lack of business training that keeps lawyers from opening their own firms.
Having a JD and an MBA also opens up greater job opportunities if you want your career path to traverse both the legal and business worlds. Your business knowledge and relationships would make you an attractive hire for law firms, and also may help you better understand and represent any future business clients.
If you're still weighing the pros and cons of whether to get a joint JD/MBA, there are online quizzes that can help you determine whether business school would be a good fit. Forbes also has some helpful information and resources, including tips for applying to business schools.
Getting a JD/MBA: Next Steps
You have many decisions to make when choosing to go to law school. One of these is the option to get a joint degree, depending on your career goals. As you set those goals and begin your professional journey, FindLaw is here to help. Find out more at FindLaw for Law Students.