The JD/MBA Student Perspective: Thinking like a Lawyer in the 21st Century Business Environment

Lana Kharlip

The JD/MBA Student Perspective: Thinking like a Lawyer in the 21st Century Business Environment

October 2016

By: Vincent Neil Ho, JD/MBA’17

Vincent Neil Ho is in the final year of the three-year JD/MBA program and was the Hennick Fellow in the 2015-2016 academic year.

I can say for certain that the JD/MBA program has exceeded my expectations thus far, and has been nothing short of phenomenal. The JD/MBA student experience and the opportunities enabled by the program are endless.

On its surface, holding advanced degrees in both law and business serve to distinguish you from the rest and equip you with the kind of skills employers from both fields value. However, being a student in the JD/MBA joint program at Osgoode Hall Law School and Schulich School of Business furnishes you with a unique and two complementary set of perspectives and training that are relevant in both legal practice and business. I have witnessed throughout my years here that in our modern world’s increasingly complex corporate environment, practitioners in either field often find that a thorough understanding of both business and law is highly beneficial; whether it is a lawyer advising a client on a commercial transaction or a senior manager pressed to make a decision within a highly regulated business environment. When confronted with a complex problem or business challenge, the JD/MBA program empowers students to think through its issues diligently and methodologically, while staying focused on and advancing the interests and business objectives of various parties involved.

In addition to meeting classmates from both the JD and MBA cohorts, an invaluable aspect of the joint program is the network of highly receptive alumni. The JD/MBA program fosters a mentorship program in the beginning of every academic year between students and their upper year classmates, alumni, and faculty, both formally and informally, who provide valuable insights into academic life and attaining career objectives. Personally, these interactions provided me with invaluable insight into the practice of law and other industries, as well as the unique career paths available to JD/MBA students. With an active and connected network of alumni, these relationships are known to remain far beyond graduation.

JD/MBA students also benefit from support that is uniquely tailored to the program.  The Hennick Centre for Business and Law and the JD/MBA Students’ Association feature numerous distinguished speakers, industry workshops, conferences, firm tours and social and networking events annually, which provide students with opportunities to continuously grow outside of the classroom. The JD/MBA student experience also involves interacting with classmates in a tight-knit community of like-minded peers who have similar attitudes and aspirations and who then go on to become great professional allies and colleagues. Fundamentally, the culture of the program seems to embody the creativity and efficacy of business students and the industriousness and diligence of law students – allowing for grander career paths post-graduation.

The JD/MBA program also provides students with access to resources from both schools, including financial aid, career development offices, and a host of student organizations. Aside from academic coursework, JD/MBA students are typically actively involved with extracurricular activities and the social lifestyles of both schools.

At Osgoode Hall, these experiential learning opportunities could range from positions at legal clinics, law journals, mooting competitions and various projects. Personally, I have been involved with the Osgoode Business Clinic (OBC), IP Osgoode Innovation Clinic, Osgoode Venture Capital Clinical Project (OVC), PBSC, CLASP and the Advanced Business Law Workshops (ABLW). I also participated in the Davies’ Corporate/Securities Law Moot team at Osgoode, which competed against law schools across Canada. These experiences breathed life into what is taught in the classroom and honed practical skills, such as written communication, principles of advocacy and management of expectations, that are useful to law students who aspire to be lawyers. In a less academic capacity, I was involved as Business Manager of Mock Trial, Business Manager of Obiter Dicta and Student Ambassador for Osgoode.

At Schulich, extracurricular involvement could involve case competitions, real-life consulting projects, skills-training workshops and various professional networking events. I was a research assistant at Schulich and was involved in the Global Leadership Program (GLP) in partnership with the Tel Aviv University, a management consulting project with a real-life client in Israel. The MBA program has provided me ample opportunities to work with and learn from students who come from diverse professional and personal backgrounds. From a student leadership perspective, I was involved in the executive teams of the JD/MBA Students’ Association and the Schulich Finance Association.

Whether your aim is to be a practicing lawyer of any area of law, an executive in the C-suite or an entrepreneur in your own venture, the JD/MBA program equips students with the ability to “think like a lawyer” in any given situation and an appreciation for the complexities and dynamics of the 21st century business environment, while furnishing them with the network and opportunities to succeed professionally.