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For law students seeking to work in house, many will often wonder whether earning a MBA can make their JD more marketable to the in house hiring decision makers. But, like most legal issues, the answer is: It depends.
Depending on what sort of work you are looking to perform in house, having an MBA along with your J, unfortunately might not make much difference. For instance, if you will be working on government compliance or intellectual property matters, the MBA will likely matter less than a technical background, and/or prior experience.
When Does the MBA Matter?
While the MBA might not make too much of a difference for new attorneys going in house, it can make a big difference for attorneys looking to advance within a law firm setting in two major ways. One, JD/MBAs are more adept at understanding the needs of business clients; and two, JD/MBAs are trained to run and market a business.
While the degree itself may not necessarily make a candidate more attractive, the education can truly set apart a first year associate from their peers. Being a more business savvy associate can translate into management or rainmaking roles within a firm. It can also lead to thriving careers in business and in house, even if it won't help you get your foot in the door.
Does an MBA Matter for In-House Lawyers?
In certain businesses, depending on your specialty during your MBA, you may be able to strike pay dirt. If you specialized in finance, or some other specific marketable area, you may be able to find a niche industry where your skills are highly in demand. Since the JD/MBA isn't really a requirement for any job, it'll really only ever be "icing on the cake" when seeking new positions
The MBA really matters for in house lawyers down the road. When it comes time to promote up through the ranks, an MBA can be what bridges the gap from compliance attorney to a department head, or even from associate general counsel to general counsel and, eventually (since we're day-dreaming), C-level executive.