Last week, I wrote about a few reasons that you should carefully consider whether a JD/MBA is right for you before pursuing this dual degree program. This week, I am excited to share with you some of the most compelling reasons to pursue a JD/MBA.
While you must take into account the potential drawbacks before committing to a JD/MBA, for many applicants, this dual degree proves to be well worth the investment of time and money.
Here are five reasons to pursue a JD/MBA:
1. Time: Most dual JD/MBA programs are three to four years long, while obtaining the JD and MBA separately would take five years. If you know you want both degrees eventually, you should consider doing them together.
You may even save time in the application process (which is combined at a few top schools, including the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, but is still separate at most). When my colleagues at Stratus Prep and I work with clients on JD/MBA applications, we take them through an initial introspection exercise that helps them brainstorm the best topics for both their law school and business school applications.
[Get more tips on applying to law school.]
2. Flexibility: Having both a law and business degree makes switching careers much easier. For example, if you decide after a few years of working in a law firm that the corporate law world is not for you, you can seamlessly transition to the finance or consulting sectors by leveraging your MBA.
Your JD will also differentiate you from other corporate professionals, and you are a better candidate for senior management given your understanding of regulatory frameworks, deal timelines, and other legal concepts. In fact, of Fortune 500 CEOs, 46 hold JDs.
3. Versatility: To move up in a law firm, and especially to become a partner, you need more than the critical thinking and textual analysis skills you learn in law school. When law firms hire new law school graduates, they are mainly looking for the logical reasoning, writing, and other legal skills you hone in school.
However, when they are choosing who to promote, they assume legal proficiency and start weighing other factors such as leadership, management, business development, and negotiation abilities. Similarly, corporate general counsels need a full understanding of how the company is run to successfully consult on legal issues that arise. The versatile skillset you gain through the JD/MBA could make you a prime candidate for these high-level positions.
A JD/MBA can also be extremely valuable for those pursing a public interest career path, as senior public interest leaders are often tasked with heading a nonprofit or public institution, which requires significant management capabilities.
4. Networking: By obtaining two professional degrees, you double your network of classmates and professors. Particularly at top schools, many of your fellow law and business students are likely to become CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, elected and appointed government officials, successful entrepreneurs, and other types of influential professionals.
Every classmate is a potential future business partner, board member, or resource. Also, professors can later take on the roles of mentors or investors, and they can connect you with job opportunities.
[See what unique career paths some law graduates follow.]
5. Money: The dual degree saves you about one year in tuition, and the three-year JD/MBA program offered at institutions including Yale University and Columbia University can save about two years' costs. (Keep in mind that annual tuition for a three-year program may be more expensive since it includes summer classes.)
Holding a JD/MBA may also significantly increase your lifetime earnings. Many law firms reward first-year associates that hold JD/MBAs with a special bonus and/or second-year salaries.
Additionally, whether you go into law or business, you can use the dual degree when negotiating salaries throughout your career.