37 Student Law. 26 (2008-2009)
Joint JD/MBA Degrees - Does an MBA Add Value, Personal Prestige, or Both

handle is hein.journals/studlyr37 and id is 28 raw text is: Joi nt JD/MBA Degrees
Does an MBA add value, personal prestige, or both?
BY MIKE SCOTT
oint degrees in law and business have become increasingly popular in recent years.
J Law students who desire a business specialty may seek a formal MBA degree in
addition to aJD. In many cases, students may take a wide array of specialized busi-
ness courses in conjunction with traditional JD programs.
A business background is beneficial for students in many ways. The legal world is
becoming more global in nature with added emphasis on specialization. The average
business client wants to hire legal advisers who do more than fill out forms.
MBA degrees typically take three or more years to earn. Yet that extra time spent
can increase skill sets and long-term earning potential. Students and employers alike
recognize the value of an MBA, but the degree is not a requirement to become a suc-
cessful corporate associate. Courtroom and negotiating performance and legal aptitude
outweigh the presence of an MBA degree alone.
And having an MBA doesn't automatically put an associate on the fast track to
partnership. Instead, a business background improves a lawyer's quantitative skills,
such as being able to assess complex financial data and other advanced math skills.
More law students are likely getting combinedJD/MBA degrees because universities
are streamlining dual programs and requiring fewer courses overall. But each program
is different.
More convenience for less tuition
The dual JD/MBA degree program is thriving at the University of Michigan Law
School, says Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Christine Gregory. There are 14 dual
degrees available to law school students in total, not including customized, dual pro-
grams available on an ad-hoc basis by student request.
The number of JD/MBA students has steadily risen by an overall rate of 15 percent
in the last 10 years. On average there are 17 law school graduates each year who begin
the dual MBA program, which takes an extra year to complete. At Michigan, many
law classes count toward the MBA degree and vice versa, Gregory says.
That double-counting feature is convenient for our students and saves them
money, Gregory explains. I wouldn't call it a two-for-one sale, but the fact our credits
can apply to both degrees is very appealing.
Each year 25-30 students enroll in the dual JD/MBA program at Temple University.
Louis Thompson, assistant dean for graduate and international programs at Temple,
says his school's program is designed so that students can complete it in two fewer
years than if both programs were taken separately. That equates to a 30 percent sav-
ings in tuition.
Supplement legal knowledge
Temple was one of the first institutions to offer a dual JD/MBA program, first consid-
ering the process in the late 1980s and formalizing it earlier this decade. Student de-
mand helped to create the dual program. Many felt the JD alone was litigation oriented
and didn't offer enough business exposure.
Many of our law students are very entrepreneurial in nature, so this is a good fit
for us, Thompson says. Students looking to advance their careers at private-practice
firms are increasingly interested in the business side.

26 I STUDENT LAWYER I September 2008

www.abanet.org/Isd I American BarAssociation

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