The Brief: Law School News and Events

Penn Law and Wharton Create Three Year JD/MBA Degree
© William Rieser/Theispot.com

Penn Law and the Wharton School are launching an accelerated three-year program leading to both the JD and MBA degrees. “As the world becomes more complex, leaders must be able to integrate financial, legal, political and cultural issues like never before,” said Michael A. Fitts, dean of Penn Law School. “From corporate scandals and globalization to crises in the housing and credit markets, there is an obvious need for people with advanced training in the law to be highly skilled in business, and there is no better place anywhere to study business and finance than the Wharton School.

“This will become the leading way to educate tomorrow’s leaders on Wall Street,” he added.

Students in the new program will spend the first year in Law School and the following summer in four Law and Wharton courses designed specifically for the three-year JD/MBA. The second and third years will include a combination of Law and Wharton courses, including capstone courses in the third year and work experience in law, business, finance, or the public sector in the summer between the second and third years.

Penn’s three-year JD/MBA is the country’s first fully integrated three-year program offered by elite law and business schools. The new program will target potential applicants with typically two years of work experience, especially in finance, who are entrepreneurs or are planning careers in investment banking, private equity and related fields.

“We expect that all sorts of people with business experience will apply,” said Edward Rock, co-director of Penn’s Institute for Law and Economics, the Saul A. Fox Distinguished Professor of Business Law, and an architect of the three-year program. “Some will want to pursue corporate law and corporate finance and others are likely to go in different directions. All of them will be able to navigate and lead in the worlds of business and of law, because this is the best way to prepare tomorrow’s business lawyers.”

Applicants must be admitted by both schools in order to enroll in the three-year program. Students in the joint program will be required to meet the Law School’s mandate to perform 70 hours of supervised legal work in a pro-bono setting in order to graduate. The new program solidifies Penn Law’s position as the leading cross-disciplinary law school in the country. Penn Law already offers 10 other three-year joint degree programs that combine a law degree with master’s degrees in bioethics, international studies, education and other disciplines. In total, Penn Law offers more than 30 joint- and dual-degree and certificate programs; one-half of its students take classes outside the Law School; and 70 percent of its faculty hold advanced degrees in fields other than law, including nearly one-half of the standing faculty holding a Ph.D.

The three-year JD/MBA program is expected to enroll about 20 students each year, beginning in September 2009.

“For a student interested in business law today, it is essential to learn corporate finance,” said Professor Rock. “In this combined program, students will be able to complete a full MBA including, if they wish, a major in finance, at the same time as taking numerous advanced courses in corporate law. The graduates of the joint program will be qualified to do just about anything: corporate law; investment banking; private equity; hedge funds; and more.”

Paul S. Levy, a 1972 Penn Law graduate and a former managing director at Drexel Burnham Lambert, recalled that on his first day at Drexel, he was asked to calculate a bond’s yield to maturity. He quietly called a friend with an MBA to help him figure it out.

“A JD/MBA from Penn Law and Wharton will help graduates do much more than calculate yields,” said Levy, now the senior managing director and founding partner of the New York-based investment firm JLL Partners, one of the leading private equity investment firms in the country. “Increasingly, lawyers are CEOs of major corporations, leading figures in private equity, investment bankers and so on. To prepare tomorrow’s lawyers in ways that will enable them to move effortlessly into business and finance, it is clear that a variety of Wharton courses will serve as an invaluable supplement to the more traditional law courses.”