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More universities combine MBA, legal programs

An increasing number of contemporary politicians have graduated from JD and MBA programs. U.S. President George W. Bush and Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson graduated from Harvard Business School. President Barack Obama graduated from Harvard Law School, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is an alumna of Yale Law School.

Law and business degrees are not only great assets if you plan to become a politician, but also if you strive to succeed in a world where legal and financial matters increasingly intermingle. As a result, more universities are combining JD and MBA programs, and some are even reducing the time it takes to complete dual law and business school degrees.

"I knew coming in that I wanted to practice corporate law, and the complementary MBA and JD degrees offered by this School of Management program have helped me reach my goal," Brett Church, a 2009 MBA and JD graduate, says at the Boston University site. "The MBA program increased my financial literacy, such that I feel confident discussing complex business concepts with clients and associates."

Combining JD and MBA degrees not only provides an added edge. It should also expand professional opportunities and boost the salaries of graduates.

Legal and MBA programs

About 42 schools throughout the United States combine legal and business school education, according to The Wall Street Journal. Among the universities providing dual law and business degrees are:

  • Columbia University
  • Boston University
  • Northwestern University
  • Yale University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Stanford University

Columbia University has been one of the latest schools to reduce the time to complete the JD and MBA degree from four to three years to allow students to start their career faster. The first three-year law and business school class at Columbia should begin classes in August 2011.

Students interested in simultaneously attending JD and MBA programs must submit two applications at the same time, one to Columbia Law School and another one to Columbia Business School. Although the schools may consult with each other during the evaluation of applications, at the end of the process, each makes an independent decision based on its own admission criteria. Students accepted into the JD and MBA programs should spend their first and third years at Columbia Law School and their second year at Columbia Business School. Courses could include: Corporate finance, Capital Markets & Investments, Deals, and The Law, Economics and Regulation of executive Compensation.

Lawyers could pursue business school education through masters of law or mini MBA programs, as well.

Concord Law School offers exclusively online the Small Business Practice LLM, a master of law degree focused on small business matters. Core courses include Regulation and finance in Starting and Growing a Small Business, Electronic Contracting and E-Commerce, Taxation of Small Businesses and Succession Planning.

Combining law and business school education is also popular overseas. Starting in 2011, the Sorbonne Law School and INSEAD should offer a nine-month LLM for business lawyers in Paris and Singapore, according to the Financial Times article "Insead resorts to the law."

As a minimal example, the Association of Corporate Counsel and Boston University School of Management offer a three-day Mini MBA for In-house Counsel seminar. Topics include Corporate Finance, Financial Accounting for Lawyers, Risk Analysis and Management Skills for In-house Counsel.

Law and business school careers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the employment of lawyers in the United States is expected to grow 13 percent between 2008 and 2018 due to population and business growth. Bankruptcies, corporate and security litigation, antitrust cases and mediation and dispute resolution should keep lawyers busy. Experienced lawyers specialized in areas, such as tax, patent and maritime law could also do well.

Organizations interested in lawyers with a business school education could include:

  • Government agencies
  • Federal, state and local courts
  • Urban and suburban law firms
  • Banks, insurance and real estate companies
  • Other large corporations

As of May 2009, the median annual wage for lawyers in the United States was $113,240. The highest-paid lawyers worked in the energy and technology industries or represented public figures and lived in D.C., New York, Delaware, California and Georgia.

Business lawyers trained by the Sorbonne and INSEAD, meanwhile, are expected to become chief financial officers or managers at large companies.

"The LLM is going to be more like the MBA in the global market," José Maria de Areilza, dean at Spain's IE Law School, tells the Financial Times. "Law schools are talking more to business schools."