The JD/MBA degree is now a critical tool to those seeking to practice business law, focus on legal issues at a corporation, or otherwise straddle legal and business realms. Susan Vogel, contributor to Santa Clara Law Magazine, recently wrote about the program and its illustrious graduates, including Mounts own Dan Mount.
Santa Clara University (SCU) began offering its JD/MBA in the mid-70s, thanks to professor emeritus Jost Baum, who saw “a need for students who wanted to go into the corporate and business side of practice to understand things that typically were not taught in law school, like finance, accounting, and understanding financial statements.”
As soon as the program became available at SCU, two students signed up: Dan Mount B.S. ’74, J.D./MBA ’77, and Andy Kryder B.S. ’74, J.D./MBA ’77.
Mount had a degree in economics and “wondered whether I would end up in law or business. The joint degree would give me the chance to explore both.”
Both Mount and Kryder graduated in three years, even while working part-time. Today, the program takes four years. Kryder claims he is the sole first graduate, reasoning that he was handed his diploma first, because K comes before M. But, Mount disputes this assertion.
Both agree the joint degree was worth it, because it has had such a strong impact on their careers and opened many doors that remain closed to attorneys without business backgrounds.
Upon graduation, Mount’s got a job as a business litigator. “With an MBA, I understand financial statements, and I know when to litigate,” he says. “We fight about money only when it makes money sense.” His MBA has continued to pay dividends, when it comes to the day-to-day management of his firm. “An MBA helps you better understand the service business we are in as lawyers.”
Beyond the courtroom, Mount says his business degree allows him to offer more when he sits on boards of nonprofits. “You understand how to manage affairs. You understand the financial environment and the budgets. You can help raise money.”
Mount has served on the University’s Board of Fellows, as well as the board of EHC Life Services, a nonprofit providing emergency housing for the homeless.