JD v. MBA for Entrepreneurs

By: David

Not that a business founder needs an advanced degree, but someone asked me why I didn't get an MBA instead of a JD. They also asked if I thought I made the wrong choice. So here are my thoughts.

First, I definitely wouldn't be making Illustrated Law if I never attended law school. I would likely be clueless about law.

Second, I don't think a dual JD/MBA is necessary.

But suppose you want a degree. Here's the thing I think friends may disagree with: a JD is more valuable than an MBA. 

Law is a way of thinking. It's not just about understanding intellectual property and forming business entities, though that certainly helps. Thinking like a lawyer means being able to spot risks. If we learn anything in law school, it's how to spot issues. Most of our exam questions are literally called "issue spotters." Being able to see how something could fester into a larger problem gives us the ability to head it off, avoiding both legal calamities and unnecessary friction.

This isn't to say an MBA isn't valuable. I've leaned on my business friends for all kinds of advice. But even they gained most of their insight from their work in real life prior to going to business school. It's just easier to learn/figure out marketing than it is to understand legal stuff like what makes a good contract or how to navigate regulations.

It's not at all surprising to me that this fact is reflected in real life. It's why most founders in this country don't have an MBA. You don’t need one to successfully run a business. But almost all founders need lawyers.

If someone wants to start a business and get an advanced degree, I'd ecommend they consider going to law school rather than business school.