For students with specific career ambitions, a joint degree can be a valuable investment. As part of a continuing series on joint degrees, this post discusses the JD-MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree.

As an undergraduate, Samantha Miller covered the courts beat for The Daily Iowan, which spurred her interest to attend law school. “I had no business background; I came to law school because I wanted to be a lawyer,” she said. Meanwhile, Bryce Morgan’s passion is investing. He entered law school because he wanted the versatility that comes with a law degree but was not certain he wanted to be a lawyer his entire life.

In May 2015 both Miller and Morgan will graduate having happily swapped career paths. Morgan will become an associate at the Des Moines office of Faegre Baker Daniels, while Miller will pursue non-legal corporate work. Both will graduate with dual JD-MBA degrees and the work they have done at the colleges of law and business has made all the difference to their post graduation plans.

Given Morgan’s passion is finance and investing, a JD-MBA, with an emphasis on corporate finance law, made sense. “Having a well rounded education – being able to understand the legal and financial sides of a business – makes you a more valuable counselor to your clients and a better manager of your own business affairs” he said.

For Miller, the decision to pursue a MBA along with a JD was less a matter of passion and more a matter of flexibility. A naturally “risk averse” person, she initially saw a dual degree as a way to increase her long-term job prospects. “I thought the MBA would be a boon to my JD,” she explained. Now, having discovered a passion for business, “the JD is a boon to my MBA.”

Though both occasionally heard warnings that law jobs and MBA jobs are mutually exclusive, neither Morgan nor Miller has found that to be the case. “I’d hear about how law firms won’t hire JD-MBAs because they think you’re a flight risk,” Morgan recalled. That is, that JD-MBAs are more likely to leave the firm. “But many of the people I interviewed with at large firms had JD-MBAs.”

“Law school teaches you how to approach and solve problems in very distinctive way that is valuable in a business setting, especially in a tightly regulated industry,” added Miller, who worked last summer in the marketing department of Baxter International, a biotechnology healthcare company.

--Jay Stirling | December 8, 2014