Reasons a JD-MBA Might Choose Law Over Business

The number of students interested in JD-MBA programs is increasing faster than ever before. Not only is the degree combination becoming more popular, but more and more schools are also offering programs increasing the overall number of students.  But despite that rise in popularity, JD-MBAs will always have to face one tricky dilemma – they will eventually have to choose whether to enter law or business upon graduation. For some the answer is obvious. But for most, choosing the right move is more difficult … like picking your next move in a game of chess. Not only do students have to determine what career is the best fit, but they also think about which pays the right salary, aligns most with their skill set, and sets them up to reach their career goals, not only in the short run but also in the long run.

The number of JD-MBAs that go into law versus business typically differs by school. That’s because some schools are located in regions where law firms are more centrally located, while other schools may have a better law school or business school in terms of ranking or recruiting. Further, the number also changes with the economic times, as the job opportunities ebb and flow in the respective industries.

Historically, many JD-MBAs have gone into business. That’s because in the long run, many JD-MBAs see business as a more lucrative path and think that a business career offers more work life balance. Likewise, many JD-MBAs also enjoy the MBA portion of the JD-MBA program because that portion is usually more social and less combative.

But not all JD-MBAs go into business. In fact, at Northwestern the split has historically been closer to 50/50, where about half go into law and the other half into business, and sometimes more than that the summer.  As such, I’ve decided to come up with a list of some of the possible reasons a JD-MBA student might make this decision.

Note that the list is not comprehensive.  Further, the bullets on the list also may not represent prevalent reasons that students choose. Instead it’s simply a list of some of the things that came to mind as I was writing the post.

  1. Law firms pay a higher average base pay out of graduate school
  2. You’re going to be an associate anyways and you prefer writing and reading to doing math
  3. Your background and/or skills are more aligned with the legal profession
  4. The law firms wined and dined you during recruiting and you couldn’t resist (this could apply to anyone)
  5. You know that you can always move to business fairly easily if you don’t like law
  6. You have an interest in government or politics and think law seems like a logical first step
  7. You want to learn deal-making but don’t want to be an investment banker or work in private equity
  8. You’re used to working long hours so you were up to that challenge
  9. You watched Law and Order growing up and always wanted to see what it felt like to be a lawyer
  10. You want to try it out for the summer and plan to recruit again next year if that doesn’t work out
  11. Many of your JD-MBA classmates decided to try out law so you didn’t want to miss out (FOMO)
  12. Your parents were lawyers so you want to be one too
  13. Law school recruiting happens first. So once you got an offer you decided to take it and stop recruiting.
  14. You have a good business network and could make a lot of money if they eventually became clients
  15. You go to a school that offers a lot of good business-law classes and want to see how it works in practice
  16. You are interested in business but want to distinguish yourself first

Feel free to comment if you have any additional reasons.

And good luck with whatever route you decide to take!

Saturday, June 25th, 2011 Law School

1 Comment to Reasons a JD-MBA Might Choose Law Over Business

[...] fair amount of cheese … not to mention an alien or two. Kellogg ’12 Jeremy considered reasons a JD/MBA student might ultimately enter the legal field. INSEAD ’11 V. was momentarily distracted by a quotation, but refocused on his exams. Fuqua [...]

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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