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Dual JD-MBA degree gives grads legal, business punch

by Matt Golosinski

The Northwestern University JD-MBA program, one of the country's largest with about 25 students in each class, offers the rigorous curriculum of both the university's Law School and the Kellogg School, leading to a dual degree in three years.

"This is the only program of its kind. No other school has a three-year JD-MBA program and Northwestern is able to do it through the close alignment, interaction and support of both schools, " says Garrick Isert, a 2005 graduate. Students apply to the program through Kellogg, not the Law School. This is unique, says Isert, since most similar programs require application to both schools. Students begin the legal component a year before their Kellogg experience, taking courses such as criminal law, property and constitutional law and contracts.

Isert, who is working for an Atlanta consulting firm, says that his dual degree provides advantages that make a broad impact. "Business education gives us a greater understanding of the issues clients face," he explains. "Law firms seemed excited that we would not just be lawyers who understand the legal issues, but that as JD-MBAs we would be counselors who could add greater value for clients by understanding the broader business issues. "

Businesses, meanwhile, value the "analytical, research and communication skills that are hallmarks of a legal education," adds Isert. He says these abilities are particularly applicable for roles in investment banking, strategic consulting, general management and business development.

Other Northwestern JD-MBAs agree.

Ben McLean, a 2005 JD-MBA graduate, works for a Chicago investment bank. He says the degree helped him switch careers from consulting to banking, giving him a distinct advantage over other candidates.

JD-MBA students graduate with both the Law School and the Kellogg School, appropriate since this year about half the grads have pursued business positions - consulting, private equity or investment banking - while the other half are taking jobs at law firms, specializing in corporate law, securities transactions, intellectual property or mergers and acquisitions.

In either case, the JD-MBA offers rich career options for these graduates.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University