Professional athletes spend years perfecting their craft through what essentially amounts to on-the-job training. While situationally distinct from lawyers who are experiencing higher financial education costs merely to enter their sport, it has been a common refrain that lawyers could use more on-the-job training during their mandated three years in law school. As someone who has gone through the process, I know firsthand how a combination JD/MBA, which may seem to some to have difficult-to-ascertain benefits, provides the ideal balance of pre-graduation skill diversification, team building, and those ever-elusive soft skills.
Additional Employment Opportunities and Earnings
To start, an MBA increases employment opportunities and earnings, which is vital considering the state of the legal industry. In fact, JD/MBA post-graduation average salaries and employment rates are generally higher than their sole JD or sole MBA counterparts. Earnings are higher because the JD/MBA broadens an individual’s skill set.
Returning to my sports analogy, Lebron James, understanding the need to have marketable skills across the globe, took his talents to South Beach. Likewise, a JD/MBA broadens employment opportunities, without a bar exam or jurisdictional restrictions, by training strong T-shape lawyers with broad legal skills and a deep set of technical expertise in a business field. Lebron did this in his first move and continues to do so today.
Elevated Employment Performance
Next, once graduated and in the workforce, a JD/MBA increases employment performance beyond that of the typical lawyer due to the everyday requirement of working in teams. While law school is primarily an exercise in sole responsibility for a seemingly impossible amount of work, JD/MBA programs, on the other hand, are team focused. Some MBA programs even purposefully build diverse and high-conflict teams so all team members must engage differences, coordinate plans and schedules, learn to disperse execution to responsible team members, and provide constructive feedback.
Ray Allen’s role changed over the course of his career. He was a young gun in Seattle and Milwaukee, a key element of the Big Three in Boston, and an assassin for Lebron. Ray Allen showed us that performing at your peak requires an understanding of yourself and your team members. A JD/MBA’s peak performance is trained by their two educational systems. By this, I mean a law student learns the individual skill and personal responsibility of a professional athlete. Whereas a business student trains to perform well within a professional sports team. Ray Allen perfected both, as do JD/MBA students.
Expanded Interpersonal Skills
Finally, a JD/MBA learns soft skills such as empathy and understanding. Forward-thinking MBA programs help students understand people and why they do what they do. These programs teach teamwork through timed exercises aimed to increase stress and decrease a group’s understanding of a problem by isolating information. Additional training in workforce management helps with understanding how different corporate functions, such as marketing, finance, operations, and human resources, see problems differently.
Two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry and other three-point shooters are breaking the NBA by identifying structural weaknesses in the industry and game. Likewise, JD/MBAs are trained to spot structural industry and company weaknesses and allocate resources across geographic areas with great technical expertise. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have shifted the conversation and five straight NBA finals to a possible four-point line. JD/MBAs are, likewise, poised to shift conversations and disrupt the status quo.
In the end, investing in your teammates and yourself pays off in the long run. Going to law school was one of the best decisions I have ever made, as it has already paid off in the relatively few years since graduating. My decision to get an MBA at the same time diversified and broadened that investment in myself. Without both, I wouldn’t have been trained like a pro and wouldn’t be the well-rounded professional I am today.