The field of business law is dedicated to applying legal advice and policy development to the practice of business and corporate management. At an undergraduate level, a business law degree can prepare you to be a paralegal or or assistant, either in a law firm dedicated to corporate law practice or in a corporation's internal legal department. A joint JD/MBA degree will qualify you to practice law while also becoming an expert at business administration.
Business law degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's and master/doctoral degree levels. An associate degree incorporates basic legal issues as well as general management courses and specific skill courses on legal practice work. Bachelor's degrees concentrate less on specific legal office skills and have more emphasis on business and legal theory. A JD/MBA is a dual degree that is both a master's and a doctorate and is an academically rigorous program designed to produce a fully qualified lawyer and businessperson.
Both MBAs and attorneys are in demand, and candidates who can offer both are in a particularly good position. Whether you want to be an attorney who specializes in business law or a businessperson that can advise her company on legal issues as well, the combination is extremely valuable both to business and to government.
Getting a degree that specializes in both can also substantially reduce the time that would ordinarily take to develop both spheres of expertise. While a JD ordinarily takes three years and an MBA takes two years, the dual degree takes four years total.
These degrees can now be pursued either on campus or remotely, part-time or full-time. An associate degree pursued full time can be accomplished in two years, a bachelor's degree in four, and a JD/MBA in four. When taken on a part-time basis, the dual degree may take up to six years. Be sure to calculate an additional six months to a year for the application process, including the time necessary for preparing for and taking LSAT and GMAT entrance exams. The time necessary to study for and pass a state bar exam varies by the individual.
The average salary for a business law graduate with a JD/MBA in 2009 was about $87,000, with a range of $60,000 to $100,000. Paralegals with a business law bachelor's degree can expect an average salary of approximately $40,000.
Though demand for people with MBAs and law degrees is high and growing, competition is also fierce. Pursuing this degree will require a high level of dedication in order to stand out from the crowd academically and, therefore, professionally after graduation.
One of the most valuable things you'll get from your education is your network of professors and classmates. Don't miss out on opportunities to build relationships while you're in school. Those contacts will be able to help you throughout the rest of your career.
Evangeline Marzec is a management consultant to small high-tech companies, and has been in the video games industry since 2004. As a published writer since 1998, she has contributed articles and short stories to web and print media, including eHow and Timewinder. She holds a Master of Business Adminstration from Thunderbird School of Global Management.