While just the thought of law school or earning an MBA may be daunting, some ambitious souls pursue both of these degrees, in the form of a dual JD/MBA degree.
Many top law schools and business schools offer a joint Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. These dual degree programs often save students time and money, compared to earning the two degrees separately. Prospective students can go back to school for law or business after starting their career, earning both degrees through two usually separate degree programs. The executive MBA programs available today cater to the working professional. No matter how it’s earned, this dual JD/MBA degree combination prepares job candidates for positions in a variety of areas including finance, legal departments in corporations, and business law, among other things.
Although not a requirement for most jobs, people pursue this dual JD/MBA degree for a wide array of reasons. One reason is for flexibility in the marketplace for current and future opportunities. Some begin their career solely in law and begin to focus on business later in their careers. Some combine both from the get-go. Many find the JD/MBA useful in their law practice, connecting the realms of law and business.
In today’s interconnected world, many employers are seeking employees possessing both legal and business skills to lead and represent successful organizations.
Reviewing the Top 10 JD/MBA Careers
Corporate lawyers with the knowledge that a JD/MBA degree can bring are poised to work with corporate legal departments, helping to determine legal policies within the company. In this capacity, the knowledge that a JD/MBA brings can help shape an organization’s goals and operational procedures. Many industries employ legal department employees with a JD/MBA, especially the financial and insurance industries. Corporations that are seeking expansion will utilize the knowledge provided by an employee with a JD/MBA degree.
Law Firm Member
Working in a law firm practice with a JD/MBA degree may give one a competitive edge. It may tip the scales to becoming a managing partner, or a senior member to oversee day-to-day operations, determine policies, and oversee business transactions or marketing programs. Those who hold a JD/MBA in a law firm practice will perform all the usual business of working as a lawyer within a firm, but will have the added bonus of MBA skills and knowledge to supplement their legal skills.
As a management consultant, you can be sure that your JD/MBA joint degree will be valuable. These consultants help businesses of all sizes improve their performance and profitability with their focus on strategy, business structure, operations, and management. Combining the reasoning skills of law school with the business skills of business school, becoming a management consultant may be the perfect career option for those with this degree. Teamwork and excellent communication skills, along with a JD/MBA, can propel you to a career as a management consultant.
Practicing business law would appear to be a natural course of action for a JD/MBA degree holder. With the ability to handle complex transactions including business mergers, acquisitions, corporate structure changes and more, these business lawyers with a JD/MBA are positioned for success. Initial public offerings, real estate transactions, private equity, and more may be on a business lawyer’s plate.
White-Collar Criminal Attorney
A criminal defense attorney with a JD/MBA may find their degree especially useful in white-collar crime cases. A white-collar crime lawyer handles cases involving fiduciary criminal activity. These types of cases may include bribery, money laundering, insurance fraud, embezzling, corporate fraud, securities and communities fraud, bank fraud, and fraud against the government, to name a few. The knowledge a JD/MBA brings can help pave the way to success in this position.
Business Law Professor
Universities need professors to prepare the next generation for success in the workplace, and the field of business law is no exception. These knowledgeable and experienced professors bring their expertise to the classroom. Developing course materials, developing syllabi, presenting lectures, assessing student knowledge, and providing relevant career guidance are all part of being a business law professor. These professors can help guide the department and assist with school events. Business law professors with a JD/MBA joint degree are poised for success in this academic area.
Business Owner and Entrepreneur
Having a JD/MBA degree and going the business owner/entrepreneur route can go a million different directions. Going in this direction is not for the “risk-averse” at all. Landing on your feet as an entrepreneur takes some vision, including a vision on how the JD/MBA degree equips you to prosper as a business owner. Those who have gone this route have practiced as lawyers, possibly worked in the private sector, and have developed skills that can be used in their own business. The sky’s the limit here, so use what abilities you have to shape the future.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Attorney
Lawyers with a JD/MBA degree may have what it takes to work in the FBI. Applicants are expected to have extensive experience in their field. With strategic thinking skills and proficiency in analyzing detailed information from a variety of sources, you could be on the road to success with a job in the FBI. Experience and a JD/MBA degree will poise you to provide legal and business expertise to the entire FBI on a wide range of issues. Advising on complex and sensitive FBI matters in administrative investigations, civil lawsuits, and criminal cases, as well as assisting in partnerships with other law enforcement agencies to help support FBI operations may be an exciting career for those who hold a JD/MBA degree.
Many elected officials have a legal background, and a JD/MBA would be an asset in the political arena. Elected officials have influence and responsibilities in making policies and community planning, and that would include the business realm. Having a law and business background can help make you an effective elected official. Lawyers with an MBA have the skills and knowledge to adjust quickly to ever-changing circumstances, a skill certainly needed as an elected official.
A legal background coupled with a business education is a very useful resource for a career as a wealth manager. Law practice prepares a wealth manager to serve their clients in a meaningful way. With analytical skills, problem solving skills, a deep understanding of people, and an entrepreneurial bent, those with a JD/MBA are poised to help their clients in many areas. Having legal and business insight can help you to serve your clients by recognizing signs of potential family disputes and other situations, and making moves to solve problems before they happen.
If I already have a law degree, does it make getting an MBA easier?
Not necessarily, but there are MBA programs that are designed to help working professionals succeed in their pursuit. Check out some of the executive MBA programs now available. Many of these programs include online programming, weekend programming, and other flexible options to help students succeed and develop their specific areas of interest.
What is the advantage of a dual JD/MBA degree program?
If you are certain of your desire to pursue both degrees, entering a dual JD/MBA program would be the most efficient route. This avenue can shorten your time in school and get you into your career more quickly than obtaining both degrees separately, and it will cut your expenses. Check out our article on the Top 50 JD/MBA Dual Degree Programs to find a program that is right for you.
Do JD/MBA dual degree programs assist students through career counseling?
JD/MBA dual degree students will have access to career services at their university. Most universities with this dual program offering will have specific career counseling for enrolled students. When researching dual degree JD/MBA programs, ask about what career services are available for the specific program you are interested in.
Are dual JD/MBA degree programs always full time?
While most are full time programs, aspiring JD/MBA degree holders can research their specific course to see how much flexibility there is built into it. How much time do you have to complete your degrees? Can a semester be taken off? These are some questions to answer if you are looking for an adjustable timeline.
What are the main advantages of earning a JD/MBA?
The JD/MBA dual degree is one of the most sought-after JD dual degree programs out there. This dual degree bridges the gap between two related disciplines. Many pursue this JD/MBA degree for added marketability, flexibility, and future earning power.
Will a JD/MBA make me appear like I am undecided as to where I want to commit my career efforts?
Getting career guidance and having clear career goals will give you the confidence to pursue the JD MBA career option. There is no shame in wanting flexibility to pursue unknown future endeavors, but there should be clarity of initial career goals. Summer work experiences while in school can help solidify career aspirations.
Will the JD/MBA degree open networking opportunities?
Opting for the JD/MBA opens networking opportunities in the two large fields of law and business. The crossover in networking between these two fields promises to be big, allowing for who knows how many future opportunities. Having connections to people in so many industries as a result of this dual degree network is a valuable asset.
Is it really an asset to be a lawyer who understands business?
While many work to be narrowly specialized, being a lawyer who understands business is a broader pursuit that opens opportunities. Lawyers need to understand their clients’ business operations and finances, as well as the industry their businesses are in. Although a JD/MBA-holder may not have actually worked in business, they will have an understanding of management incentives, non-legal logistics that can arise, and business finances, among other things. They are also in a good position to better understand and analyze their client’s business needs.
Are there jobs that specifically require a JD/MBA?
The JD/MBA is not typically a requirement for a specific job, so what’s the point of getting this dual degree? It opens a large networking opportunity from two fields, and it offers flexibility and marketability that is broader than having only one degree.
Will having a JD/MBA make me a better lawyer?
There may be some evidence that employers believe that JD/MBA holders will be better lawyers, with some offering bonuses and salary increases based on holding this dual degree. Being a lawyer with the deep understanding of business that having an MBA brings may make you a better lawyer because you will better understand the business aspect of clients’ needs.
Will having a JD/MBA buy me time to make career decisions?
Those who consider the JD/MBA often do so because of the desire for professional flexibility. It may buy someone time if they don’t know what they really want to do, and some may think getting a JD/MBA dual degree helps hedge against making an unsatisfactory educational or career choice. There may also be a lower unemployment risk by pursuing both degrees.
By Carol Dolan BS RN BSN CDCES
Carol graduated with her BS in Nutrition from Montclair State University and her BSN in Nursing from Rowan University. She is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) currently working with adults and children living with diabetes in both outpatient and inpatient settings.