Mimi Pichette (1L, JD/MBA)
The combined JD/MBA is a highly popular joint program every year, with many students joining it after beginning 1L. If you are considering this program but aren’t quite sure what you’re signing up for, then look no further. Here are some wise words of wisdom from upper years reflecting on the experience after having now completed their first years in both the JD and the MBA parts.
The most common piece of advice for 1Ls considering the program is to dig deep and consider your motivations for doing it. Make sure you are in it for a concrete reason and not just “because it can open doors down the road.” Do it if you genuinely want to learn about business or go into business, but note that it might be less useful if you see yourself practising law in the long term. Aamir Cherwala (2L) offers further advice: “Look at some of the courses that are offered in the first year of MBA and see if it’s something you would enjoy learning, and talk to upper year JD/MBAs.” It is definitely important to do your homework, as the price tag alone should deter deciding to do it on a whim.
Upper years also provided advice for those of us currently embarking on our first year of the MBA and wondering, “Is this really worth it? And what are some insider tricks of the trade?” One of the biggest differences that has emerged between the programs is the group work involved in the MBA. A very helpful piece of advice concerning this is to keep group meetings short so you have more time for your own work. However, this comes with a caveat, as Ryan Jolly (2L) points out that many JDs should be prepared to handle a large proportion of the group work.
Overall, whether you are considering doing it or are already on the journey, you should take as many opportunities as possible to learn from your peers. Aamir Chherwala builds on this, stating that current JD/MBAs should “make an effort to meet people; it is very tempting to only hang out with the other JD/MBAs, but this is an opportunity to grow both your personal and, more importantly, your professional network, so take advantage of it.” This could include joining some of the more fun Rotman clubs (e.g., gaming, sports, wine) and meeting people through those activities.
Although there are many opportunities to socialize, the work can be quite daunting in the first year of the MBA. Devon Willits (2L) notes that “students coming into the MBA without a commerce or math-based background have more work to do than those with that kind of background. That being said, it is still possible to do very well in the MBA without it.” Even though it might be a lot of work, you won’t be alone: Devon went on to say that “a large component of course evaluation is group-based. This means that you should actively try to foster friendly relationships with your group members early in the term so that you can continue to function later, when the work gets more difficult and other commitments pile up.”
A key theme emerging is the importance of teams at Rotman, something that is not necessarily present at the law school. If you’re considering this program, you will come into it having mastered independent work, but will have to brace yourself for a steep learning curve for the second year in a row. Group work is its own beast. If pursuing this degree is on the horizon for you then, as one student said, “Keep an open mind, take risks, and embrace failure”.