Is a JD/MBA Right for You?

Shawn P. O'Connor

Since I wrote about the benefits of a JD/MBA and drawbacks of the dual degree in October, I have received many E-mails on the topic from students and professionals.

In this installment of Law Admissions Q&A, a monthly feature in Law Admissions Lowdown that provides admissions advice to readers who send in questions and profiles, I will respond to a couple of those letters.

[Peruse the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings.]

If you have a question about law school, E-mail me for a chance to be featured next month.

Dear Shawn: I just finished reading your U.S. News articles about why you should or should not apply to a dual JD/MBA degree program. I am a recent college graduate and currently working for a sports marketing firm, with thoughts and aspirations of going to business school within the next few years.

In college, I played basketball. I have always had a love for the sport, which is why I know I would like to pursue a career in the sports industry. Being an outgoing and personable guy, I started to realize my personality and characteristics matched those of a sports agent.

I immediately tied a sports agent to getting a law degree, in order to negotiate players' contracts. After more research and thinking, I realized I could also engage more in the endorsements or management side.

There are parts of the sports agent job, and the sports industry in general, that can definitely benefit from both a law degree as well as an MBA. Do you have any thoughts or advice to my situation in particular? Thanks so much for your time! Looking forward to hearing back. -Sports Enthusiast

Dear Sports Enthusiast: A law degree certainly could be helpful in a career as a sports agent, but it is not absolutely essential. Many larger sports agencies have some agents that specialize in negotiating contracts, where the JD would be very beneficial, as well as other agents that assist with financial management and oversee the players' media images and marketing strategies, where the MBA would be beneficial.

[Explore the U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings.]

If you want to act as an independent sports agent or eventually open your own boutique firm, I would suggest pursuing both degrees. I recommend reaching out to sports agents you admire--some with law degrees and some without--to decide if the significant financial and time commitment of this additional degree will be worthwhile. -Shawn

Dear Shawn: I am a college student in the Midwest, and I have been thinking about obtaining my JD/MBA through a joint degree. I just read your article on the 5 reasons not to get a dual degree. With the applications to law school and business school both being down in recent years, as well as the weak job market for graduating college students, I thought this would be a good time to advance my education.

I have always been planning on going to law school, but my recent fascination with the economy has inspired me to get a dual degree in business. I am confident that I don't want to practice law unless I were to be a corporate lawyer. I would prefer to work in business, specifically finance.

I had two questions for you:

1. What type of jobs would be ideal for someone obtaining a JD/MBA degree?

2. I'm nervous about not getting into a law school that I'd like to go to. Would enrolling in a school's business program and then applying to the Law School after I get good grades be a better option? -Ambitious College Student

Dear Ambitious College Student: You noted that applications to law and business school have gone down in recent years. While there has been a small decrease in applications this year, particularly to law school, that is only after a significant increase in applications after the financial crisis. The number of applications to both programs is still relatively high, so the application process for law and business school remains incredibly competitive.

[Read about law school trends for 2012.]

Since you are still in college and you seem a bit unsure about your career plans, I recommend working for a couple years before deciding on graduate school. It is difficult to gain admission to a top business school right out of college, so waiting at least a couple years also gives you the option to decide about pursuing the JD/MBA. If you still prefer to work in business in a few years, you may find that you actually do not need the law degree. -Shawn