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The Business of Business Law: Pros and Cons of Dual Law-Business Degrees

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

Advantages

  1. Become a professional in law in a matter of three years (shortest duration out of all the other options)
  2. The most known and commonly required degrees for law professionals in North America
  3. JD-degree holders are eligible to take the bar exam in all states in the U.S.
  4. 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

Disadvantages

  1. 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”
  2. 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.

Advantages

  1. Be able to specialize in business law beyond the three-year curriculum provided by a J.D. degree
  2. 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)
  3. This degree allows foreign law professionals to practice law in the United States
  4. According to eHow, the average starting salary of a lawyer with a LL.M. can range from $80,000 to >$100,000
  5. The number of LL.M degrees awarded in U.S. have increased in the past 5 years

Disadvantages

  1. Employers are less familiar with LL.M. programs than J.D. programs in business
  2. LL.M. programs can cost the same as J.D. programs and award less financial aid to students
  3. Classes required for LL.M. and J.D. students can be the same or extremely similar
  4. 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)

Advantages

  1. Be able to obtain two of the most prestigious degrees in higher education in less than 5 years
  2. Foster strong networks and relationships in the business school
  3. 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

 

Disadvantages

  1. 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
  2. May not be the best route for people who have a inflexible interest in business law and not business administration
  3. Lose a year in the labor market working as a lawyer
  4. 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.

best-lsat-prep-books-master-the-lsat-with-these-3-books

The Poison of a Pre-Law Major: Evaluating Undergraduate Pre-Law Experience

The quandary of a strong undergraduate major for law school plagues undergraduates nationwide. The archaic pre-law major, once the perfect preparation for law school, appears now out of fashion for students desiring a competitive edge for law school applications.

With this in mind, many undergraduates turn to the American Bar Association for advice on the ideal preparatory major; they do so to no avail, as “the ABA does not recommend any undergraduate majors or group of courses to prepare for a legal education.” It is understandable that students desire advice on which courses would best prepare them for the rigor of law school. While the pre-law track covers material taught in these graduate classes, it seems that preparation is now secondary to an interesting or unconventional major.

There are several reasons for this shift in preferred undergraduate majors. The 2015-2016 LSAT data attests that the highest percentage of enrolled law school students of the past year were political science majors (71.14%), and unconventional majors such as math, engineering, or chemistry are on the rise.  Furthermore, the Law Admissions Council data, analyzed by U.S News, revealed that students majoring in pre-law were “less likely to be admitted to law school than other majors.” The pre-law major, once perfectly designed for students aspiring for a legal career, now appears to do a disservice to students. The most common explanation for this transition is that law school admissions desire a candidate who has been exposed to a breadth of information during his or her undergraduate career. Because law school is intended to fully prepare a student for a legal career, admissions officers view any outside experience, whether it be pharmaceutical research, linear algebra prowess, or a self-published novel, as a “bonus” for the candidate. The pre-law major is now being relegated as unnecessary or redundant, and undergraduates are advised to look elsewhere.

For students who are heartbroken with the prospect of studying anything other than law-applicable content, this new phenomenon should not be taken too seriously. Although statistics and advisors may recommend an unconventional major, the attainability of a high GPA and LSAT score should also be a consideration. An unusual major is a bonus, but not a worthy reason to suffer low GPA or LSAT scores. Altogether, students interested in law school should be advised to enjoy undergraduate education to explore areas of interests which both include and surpass the legal realm. If this period of discernment lands you with a pre-law major, rejoice in the clarity of legal interests. On the other hand, if your musical theater, quantum physics, or computer science major couldn’t be farther from law, know that law school will be available as an option post-graduation.

 

Emily Fechner is a Trinity freshman from Palos Verdes, California.  She is Pre-Law, and plans to double major in Public Policy and ICS.  Emily is a writer for Juris.