Lawyers, do you really need an MBA?

It won’t earn you more money, but for sure, it will shape the way you think.

At least that’s what the majority of those who hold an MBA’s we’ve surveyed have responded.

Every year there’s a new MBA ranking, but some Business Schools are opting out to provide their info to the magazines that publish them. I think an unsaid reason for those schools to abstain is that it’s hard to make any sense out of the fact that one year you may be at the top of the ranking and the next be ranked several places down, just because the ranking has now included a new criterion.

Therefore, rather than offering yet another ranking, here are the most powerful motivations behind the growing number of lawyers who are willing to spend considerable resources in pursuing this still unique accolade for their resume. Unique because around 4% of lawyers in pan-Canadian law firms have an MBA. Take Stikeman Elliott for example: 6%.

Our respondents also tell us how they have benefited from having an MBA, sending a positive signal to those who are thinking about getting one. However, they raise two important red flags on what to expect: there’s no guarantee that having an MBA will land you a better job, nor that you’ll earn more money.

We asked 150 JD/LLB + MBA in Canada; these are their answers:




Finally, here are some quotes from our respondents:

An MBA adds immediate credibility for a business lawyer. 


I think the biggest thing is really that there are no guarantees. If you have a good law school average and you would be competitive anyways, an MBA makes you really stand out. If you have a poor law school academic record, the MBA won’t save you. And yes, the program is a LOT of work. I don’t regret it for a second though and I’m quite sure the great legal job I have lined up for after law school is at least partly attributable to my JD/MBA. 

I highly recommend an MBA, especially for those lawyers that don’t have a business background. Private practice is a business and most lawyers don’t have the business skills to run a business. Further many areas of law beyond corporate/commercial have a financial component, for example family law can have a complicated financial component that I notice many lawyers don’t fully understand. 


Another reason to pursue a joint Masters degree (of any kind) is that it opens the door to graduate student funding opportunities – many JD/MBA students are able to subsidize their law degree using government or grad school funding that is not available to JDs (considered an undergraduate program for most purposes).