Abraham Lincoln once noted that “a lawyer’s time and advice are his stock and trade.” As such, the joint JD/MBA program at UC Hastings, just named one of the two best programs in California by voters in The Recorder’s Best of 2016 survey, is doubly valuable: it saves students a year of study, allowing them to complete both a JD and an MBA in four years rather than in five; it also saves students a not inconsequential sum of money.
Saving time and money, however, are only two of the many advantages, as Professor Morris Ratner, who spearheads this best-of-class JD/MBA concurrent degree program at UC Hastings explains. “While saving time and money are obviously the most direct benefit to students doing the program, there are a myriad of other benefits accruing to students including access to the alumni networks from both colleges and the obvious social and intellectual benefits of two cohorts.”
The alumni networks and cohorts are particularly beneficial given the level of partners involved. UC Hastings has formal concurrent degree agreements with three business schools: UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, which is routinely voted as one of the top ten business schools in the world, UC Davis Graduate School of Management, and Presidio Graduate School. UC Hastings also offers a JD/Masters in Applied Economics and Finance with UC Santa Cruz. In addition, the Chip W. Robertson ’98 MBA Access Fund makes funds available to current UC Hastings students applying for and admitted to degree programs at UCLA Anderson School of Management or UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
The JD/MBA program at UC Hastings helps prepare students for careers in both the courtroom and the boardroom. “Students find the curricula intellectually stimulating. There’s just something inherently neat in putting students in business and law classes and encouraging conversation and watching the synergy created,” adds Professor Ratner, who is also Associate Dean for Academic and Professional Success.
Business and law classes are taught differently and the differing approaches cultivate students’ abilities to think strategically and to constantly be aware of the parallel dimensions of law and business. “Ultimately it’s all about preparing students for life in the real world. The combined program enhances their abilities and gives them the tools needed to think strategically along both legal and business lines,” says Ratner. “The program expands students’ horizons, introduces them to larger cohorts and significantly boosts their capabilities. We’re creating savvier, more sophisticated lawyers that have a better understanding of the business environment and, as such, we fundamentally add to their potential making them much better employees and consequently more attractive to prospective employers. The law itself is not something that exists in a vacuum and this best-of-class program, done in collaboration with the very best MBA/Economics programs of the UC system, prepares participants to innovate and succeed in the business world.”
In addition to the four schools UC Hastings has entered into agreements with, students may also create their own concurrent degree programs with other business schools with the approval of Professor Ratner as the Associate Academic Dean. “We currently have a student about to embark on her MBA in the London School of Economics, for example, and we’d encourage students to get in touch and explore all options,” says Professor Ratner.
The JD/MBA degree is more than just a marriage of convenience. Law and business are inextricably bound together; lawyers provide legal services to businesses and so, necessarily, require an understanding of business principles. And, on a micro level, lawyers need business skills to start and manage law practices. “In our interconnected world, people can no longer survive in a vacuum. It’s incumbent on us to provide the skills our students need to thrive in life, in law and in business and we believe the JD/MBA program does just that,” says Professor Ratner.