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JD/MBA Blog Post

JD/MBAs share their candid thoughts about enrolling in the joint program, their experiences to date, and advice for prospective students


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Pros and Cons of the JD/MBA

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Work experience & JD/MBA

Applying for JD/MBA

Careers and JD/MBA
When to Apply for a JD/MBA
Nick Lawhead, JD/MBA '11

Some potential JD/MBAs apply to both business school and law school before matriculating at eitheróthis path provides applicants with certainty and eliminates the need to apply to graduate school twice. However, other students choose to postpone their decision to pursue a joint degree until after they have begun to pursue one or the other. I myself fall into the second group. I started at the University of Chicago Law School, and I later chose to apply to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Fortunately for me, the University of Chicago is very flexible with curricular requirements, and students are reasonably free to choose the year in which they apply to complete an additional degree. Freedom implies choice, however, and there exist certain advantages and disadvantages to applying at different times.

As a general matter, it is more common for a JD student to apply to get an MBA than it is for an MBA student to apply to get a JD. This outcome is a function of timing, not preference. First, it is a good idea to finish the intense 1L year of law school upfront. Second, if you start with business school, you will have to apply to the law school during the first 3-4 months of your MBA. If you are unsure about applying for a JD/MBA from the outset, it is unlikely that you will be in a significantly better position to decide after such a short period of time. Next, from a time management perspective, you would have a lot to juggle between coursework, on-campus recruiting at Booth, and the application deadlines for the law school. Finally, choosing the JD/MBA path has professional and career limitations. If you choose to start with business school, you will spend your first summer completing a business or finance internship. While law firms commonly will hold post-summer offers open for a year or two for JD/MBA students, business employers are not typically so flexible with offers and start dates.

For all of these reasons, I chose to start at the University of Chicago Law School. As a potential JD/MBA, your first occasion to apply to Chicago Booth would be during the fall of 1L year. Applying during 1L year, you may be able to better take advantage of the professional and academic contacts you have developed prior to graduate school; such contacts are invaluable for recommendation letters. Moreover, in the event that an MBA application is unsuccessful 1L year, it is possible to reapply the following year as a 2L. However, reapplying is not costless: reapplicants must rewrite essays and show how they have grown since their last application. In addition, 1L year is a very busy time, and it may be difficult to find the time to coordinate the application process. Specifically, it may be tough to find time to adequately study for the GMAT. Some students have successfully studied for and taken the GMAT entirely during winter break, while others have taken time to more extensively prepare. Luckily, the verbal section of the GMAT is similar to its LSAT counterpart; itís also weighted more heavily than the quantitative section on the GMAT.

A number of potential JD/MBAs apply during 2L year. Time is less scarce during your second year of law school, and you will have the opportunity to take classes in other university divisions. I personally took advantage of the University of Chicagoís curricular flexibility and took a few finance courses at Booth during my 2L year. This chance to experience the Booth culture and academic environment effectively made the decision for me. As I got to know the professors and students at Booth, I saw firsthand how valuable the joint degree would be for me.

Pursuing a joint degree will provide a number of professional advantages. At the University of Chicago, the quality of the employers seeking candidates is top-notch, and the employed-upon-graduation numbers generated by both the University of Chicago Law School and Chicago Booth are very impressive. If accepted to Booth during either 1L or 2L year, it is possible to participate in on-campus interviewing at the law school during 1L and 2L year (for 1st and 2nd summer law internships) and at Booth during oneís 3rd year (for 3rd summer business internships). This ability to try out both fields is extremely helpful in choosing your eventual career.

In the end, choosing when to apply to the Chicago Booth and the Law School depends on many personal factors that simply cannot be enumerated in a brief, general essay. Many considerations may impact the decision, such as the number of schools to which a potential JD/MBA is applying, what that applicant is doing before applying to graduate school, and family situation. Applying to complete a JD/MBA can be a daunting process, but it is well worth it, and the rewards are numerous.

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