I’m Deciding Between a JD and a JD/MBA


I recently graduated and acquired a bachelors degree. I was wondering what are your views between a JD/MBA program vs. the traditional 3-year JD.  I don’t know whether I want to do legal work forever.  If I do, would the JD/MBA put me in a disadvantage position compared to a 3-yr JD?

It would give you a competitive advantage, not disadvantage.  Especially if you plan to focus on corporate law.  It would also make it easier for you to transition out of the law down the road, should that be of interest to you.  A JD/MBA shows that you have at least a rudimentary understanding of finance and accounting, something many lawyers don’t have.  So, in case of a tie, go for the JD/MBA.  But don’t sacrifice academic quality for degree quantity.  In other words, it’s better to get a JD from a top 10 school than a JD/MBA from a top 30 school.

P.S. You say you don’t know whether you want to do legal work forever, yet you haven’t even applied to law school yet.  Not a good sign.  Why spend three years busting your ass to get a degree you’re not sure you even want?  Don’t be afraid to take a year off and get some real-life experience. Get a paralegal job at a big firm, see if you like it.  If you do, go to law school.  If you don’t, do something else.  You’ll save lots of money—and avoid lots of career frustration.

Good luck.

Got a question for Ex-Bitter?  Email it to info@bitterlawyer.com.

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

7 Comments

  1. Kennedy

    August 23, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks for the advice.

  2. kukareku

    August 24, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    well, as u mother probably told you…do what ever makes you are happy…

  3. YrNextBestAsst

    August 26, 2008 at 10:04 am

    And like your mother DIDNT tell you: doing what makes you happy and keeping the bills paid are two separate things. Im sure 85% of us still doing what pays the bills …

  4. Banker

    August 31, 2008 at 4:25 am

    I got an MBA, then went straight for the JD–not in a combined program, but separately.  The fifth year, my last year of law school and my ninth straight year of formal education, was pure boredom.  Then, I went into a legal career, and for 15 years, the MBA looked nice on my office wall, and that was about it.  But, as I would look at it every so often, I’d say to myself that it was going to help me out one day, and it did.  As I started to look for non-legal jobs in banking, the fact that I had earned a MBA in finance made the difference and helped me get the job.  I agree with the other post, however, if you’re ambivalent about practicing law now, take a year or two off before starting law school and spend some time getting to know what lawyer life is REALLY like (for most).

  5. Go for the Hedge Fund Manager math degree

    September 1, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Skip the JD and the MBA and just make sure to study all of the math needed to get into the Hedge Fund game.  Those guys and gals are making $900 million a year!

  6. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 11:06 am

    If you have the money and the time to learn, go for both.  It affords the presumption of competence, which of course is only a rebuttable presumption.  You must do well, however, to be considered for a good job.  Having crappy grades and 2 degrees doesn’t mean much.  You can go below the top 30 schools if you aren’t interested in Wall Street; unless you come from the big cities (NY Chicago, LA, SF), it’s not that big a deal.  There are plenty of yahoos in Dallas, DC, Atlanta, KC, Philadelphia and Cincinatti, to name a few that can’t even spell Ivey League, so don’t be discouraged if you turn out to be mediocre.  You can still be a hit in these cities.

  7. tkhorse

    September 5, 2008 at 10:37 am

    It’s just one additional year more than law school, and saves a year from the five year it would be otherwise, so if you can get into a good tier school in both, do it. In a work career, one year passes in a flash, so one additional year for a useful piece of paper is usually worth it.  MBA curriculum often more fun than JD, substantively much easier (no memorization), but lots of work though, sometimes even more than JD. Also, class participation usually counts a lot more (grading usually not blind). 
    For more it’s-worth-what-this-advice-costs, see:
    http://www.angelfire.com/stars/tkchang/Law_Or_Business_School.htm

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