Attention, all prospective law school students! If you are striving for a future career in business law, there are a variety of available paths. Common routes include: (1) J.D. programs that specialize in business law, (2) LL.M. programs for business law, and (3) dual enrollment in business and law school, otherwise known as a JD/MBA.
Which option is considered “the best?” Which option is the most expensive? Which leads to the highest post-graduation salary? Below is a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the three most popular degree options for students interested in business law.
1. J.D. in Business Law
- Become a professional in law in a matter of three years (shortest duration out of all the other options)
- The most known and commonly required degrees for law professionals in North America
- JD-degree holders are eligible to take the bar exam in all states in the U.S.
- According to eHow, the average STARTING salary of a corporate lawyer with a J.D. has an estimated range from $50,000 to $90,000
- Year after year, the job market for lawyers becomes increasingly competitive. It might be helpful to obtain a degree that deviates from the “J.D. norm”
- The starting returns for a J.D. in business law may not be enough to quickly offset the post-graduation debt from expensive tuition
2. LL.M. (Master of Laws) for Business Law
*For context, an individual is able to enroll in a LL.M. program once they have received J.D. from an accredited law school and have successfully taken the bar exam. This program allows people to study a specific field of law that they are interested in.
- Be able to specialize in business law beyond the three-year curriculum provided by a J.D. degree
- Most joint J.D./LL.M. programs require only 1 additional year of schooling than the typical J.D. program (generally a 4-year program)
- This degree allows foreign law professionals to practice law in the United States
- According to eHow, the average starting salary of a lawyer with a LL.M. can range from $80,000 to >$100,000
- The number of LL.M degrees awarded in U.S. have increased in the past 5 years
- Employers are less familiar with LL.M. programs than J.D. programs in business
- LL.M. programs can cost the same as J.D. programs and award less financial aid to students
- Classes required for LL.M. and J.D. students can be the same or extremely similar
- Law school admissions lack sufficient information on what a LL.M entails in terms of post-graduation returns
3. J.D./MBA (Juris Doctor AND Master of Business Administration)
- Be able to obtain two of the most prestigious degrees in higher education in less than 5 years
- Foster strong networks and relationships in the business school
- It is hard to pinpoint an average starting salary due to the career versatility of the joint program; according to eHow, the average starting salary of a person with MBA can range from $76,000 to $90,000
- The cost of this program is EXPENSIVE, with tuition costs for solely the MBA degree estimated to be $75,000 on average, according to Law School Expert
- May not be the best route for people who have a inflexible interest in business law and not business administration
- Lose a year in the labor market working as a lawyer
- Feel detached with individuals who are regular J.D. or MBA students
There are other options worth exploring in and outside of law, though these three programs are known for their business focus. Whatever path you decide to follow, just remember how your choice fits into your future interests in business law. The perfect program is the one that perfectly aligns with your priorities and goals in education.
Blaine Elias is a Trinity junior from Northern Virginia. She is pre-Law, a double major in Public Policy Studies and Global Health, and pursuing a certificate in Information Science and Studies. Blaine is a writer for Juris.