DAILY JOURNAL SUPPLEMENT The New Lawyer May 2011 : Page 1

THE Supplement to The Daily Recorder and the Los Angeles and San Francisco NEW LAWYER Valuating a JD-MBA MAY 17, 2011 Robert Levins / Daily Journal Jer Monson, Pepperdine law-MBA student. ach year, a steady trickle of dual law-MBA degree holders gather their diplomas and enter the job market. But over the past few tumultuous recruiting seasons, their prospects have ebbed. With an extra year’s worth of accounting and fi nance classes under their belts, law fi rms said the double degree holders are often viewed as corporate and securities specialists. Bob Williams, partner and chief talent offi cer at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, said that particular area of expertise wasn’t exactly sought after when the economy was at its worst . E By Erica E. Phillips Daily Journal Staff Writer “Hiring at a lot of law fi rms for corporate lawyers really dropped for a couple of years,” Williams said. “People coming out with [a law-MBA] degree were aimed at a practice area that wasn’t very robust for a while.” Even so, California law schools continue to establish and build combined law-business programs — often at the strong urging of alumni. Like many law school faculty around the state, Berkeley law professor Eric Talley said he has heard from lawyers in the Berkeley alumni community that the standard law school curriculum is missing a basic fi nance component. Particularly since the 1980s, Talley said, “One thing became increasingly clear: It’s pretty hard to operate in [corporate and securities law] without having a pretty good understanding of exactly what it is that investment bankers are doing.” “The stakes have gone up, and the complexity of deals has gone up,” he said. In response, Berkeley law school established a business law certifi cate program in 2009 that can be completed during the three-year law school timeframe. Southwestern School of Law and UC Davis School of Law have accelerated three-year joint degree programs. Nearly all of the other major law schools in the state offer four-year dual-degree programs, with the exception of UC Hastings College of the Law, which does not offer a combined degree. Recent graduates and students in the joint programs say the additional time and cost is well worth it. Annie Krikorian graduated from the joint program at Pep-perdine University in 2004 and has been working in-house at Guitar Center Inc. She said having a business skill set helped her navigate the corporate world right away. CONTINUED ON PAGE 9

Valuating A JD-MBA

Erica E. Phillips

Each year, a steady trickle of dual law-MBA degree holders gather their diplomas and enter the job market. But over the past few tumultuous recruiting seasons, their prospects have ebbed. With an extra year's worth of accounting and finance classes under their belts, law firms said the double degree holders are often viewed as corporate and securities specialists. Bob Williams, partner and chief talent officer at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, said that particular area of expertise wasn't exactly sought after when the economy was at its worst .

"Hiring at a lot of law firms for corporate lawyers really dropped for a couple of years," Williams said. "People coming out with [a law-MBA] degree were aimed at a practice area that wasn't very robust for a while."

Even so, California law schools continue to establish and build combined law- business programs - often at the strong urging of alumni.

Like many law school faculty around the state, Berkeley law professor Eric Talley said he has heard from lawyers in the Berkeley alumni community that the standard law school curriculum is missing a basic finance component. Particularly since the 1980s, Talley said, "One thing became increasingly clear: It's pretty hard to operate in [corporate and securities law] without having a pretty good understanding of exactly what it is that investment bankers are doing."

"The stakes have gone up, and the complexity of deals has gone up," he said.

In response, Berkeley law school established a business law certificate program in 2009 that can be completed during the three-year law school timeframe.

Southwestern School of Law and UC Davis School of Law have accelerated three-year joint degree programs. Nearly all of the other major law schools in the state offer four-year dualdegree programs, with the exception of UC Hastings College of the Law, which does not offer a combined degree.

Recent graduates and students in the joint programs say the additional time and cost is well worth it.

Annie Krikorian graduated from the joint program at Pepperdine University in 2004 and has been working in-house at Guitar Center Inc. She said having a business skill set helped her navigate the corporate world right away.

"Law is so qualitative," Krikorian said. "If you don't have the quantitative skills to carry you, you can't really communicate with half the population. It really is a necessity."

Jonathan Schaefler finished the law-MBA program at USC last spring and went straight to work as an associate in the real estate practice at Kaye Scholer LLP in New York. He said there was an important social aspect to business school that can't be overlooked, which is just as useful in law as it is in business.

"There was sort of this idea of, 'Let's meet as many people as we can, and let's be happy and make money together,'" Schaefler said.

"Law school teaches you that if you work hard, everything will fall into place," he said. "But I think being successful is not just about working hard, it's about who you know."

Jer Monson, a student in Pepperdine University's combined program, agreed. "Business school is all about networking."

Krikorian, Schaefler and Monson did point to a disjointed feeling between the two starkly different experiences of business school and law school.

"One common critique of law school is that it doesn't relate as much as it could to the actual practice of law," Monson said. "So I've tried to take that networking aspect of business school and apply it to the whole program."

It's a rough patch faculty and administrators say they're always working to smooth out.

"I do think that students feel they gain the most in classes where there's a mixture of business people and law people," said Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law. "It's good to have business world insights brought to bear on the legal issues, and I assume the same is true for business students."

Talley said Berkeley's certificate program has gotten positive feedback after its first two years, but that there's a continuing need for improvement.

"Law schools are working very hard to make sure that we keep current and that we are producing law graduates that have skill sets that enable them to succeed," he said. "That is always a moving target."

Ultimately, the best law school graduates, recruiters and law fi rms agree, are those who have a good sense of what they want to do, and having a dual degree indicates an interest and dedication to corporate and finance work.

Williams of Sheppard Mullin said, “It is an indicator of maturity, for one thing.

“[Law-MBA applicants] are likely to be more directed as they arrive at our fi rm and more motivated to pursue a particular line of practice,” he said, “rather than being a renaissance person who does a little of this and a little of that.”

The law-MBA is indeed a rare breed. Less than 100 students will complete programs in California this year out of roughly 4,000 graduates, but that number could grow as corporate and mergers and acquisitions activity begins to pick up.

Whatever edge the extra year gave him in the job market, Schaefl er said, the real payoff could come a few years down the line.

“Your law school classmates you share legal ideas with, but your business school classmates are more of an asset,” Schaefl er said. “They could be your book of business one day.”

Read the full article at http://virtualonlineeditions.com/article/Valuating+A+JD-MBA/732972/70253/article.html.

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