BTide - What school are you at? If you don't want to say the exact school, you could just give its tier. I'll be attending a fourth tier school (though it has a great reputation locally), and I'm considering the MBA/JD. My undergrad degree is in business. I just graduated this past spring so I have no WE, but I am interest in working in law, business, or the intersection of the two. Do you know how much the value of the MBA/JD depends on the tier of the school. I've heard that the value of the MBA is becoming "diluted" (there's an article in this years USNWR on it too) and that it's somewhat pointless to get an MBA unless it's a high/very high ranking program (Harvard, Wharton, etc.). My primary question is: Does this apply when one is pursuing an MBA/JD as well, and if so, to what degree? In other words, how much does an MBA increase the marketability of a T1 law school grad vs. a T4 law school grad? (I realize the cons to pursuing an JD/MBA, and that some will argue that it won't increase your marketability at all.)
What you say about the diluted MBA is just about right--alone it may not push you nationally unless you go to a big name school and it is an increasingly weak degree. I look at is as a synergy effect. The MBA alone isn't as powerful as it is when combined with the JD, and the joint degree is greater than either of its parts alone. I've overheard a guy who I believe was a manager for either AmSouth or Trustmark (banks in the South) say "don't show me an MBA from [school I'm going to] unless it is from ____" and they cite some school they respect (usually one nationally known or known to at least be strong in a certain are of business). But in all honesty, that was just a random manager's attitude and I bet confronted with an MBA from ____ school and one from an average school, his tune might change after the interview--it might not. In fact, I bet he went to said school and the chances of a graduate from said school coming to work for him are small anyways. His attitude also beggs the question, "Shoud or would you want to work with such an employer/manager?". Sure some programs may not be all that great, but it is still a degree and down the road it will really come down to how you utilized your knowledge, and not your paper hanging on your office wall. I just really don't agree with the attitude that you shouldn't pursue law or business unless you go to school X or Y.
I think a JD/MBA has more weight than just a JD if you are even remotely thinking about business. It is up to you to make the most of what you have--there's a good chance nothing will be given to you. The "tier" of your program will have some weight (national placement) but your grades and aspirations should do the driving. I go to a 4th tier--this may "lock" me in to my region but that is fine because I want to stay in my region. I'm married, have a brand new house, etc... Albeit my state only has 2 law schools anyways (at T2 and a T4). It has numerous universities that offer MBA's though (If I had to guess, I'd say they are mediocre). I graduated in 2004 with a degree in Finance and wanted to further the business degree so I was wanting to get an MBA anyway. The past year I worked full time in a law firm, making all sorts of contacts, and taking MBA classes at night. The program was designed for working students, much like a lot of MBA programs out there. I applied to the law school for the joint program after already completing 15 hours (half) of the MBA degree. So now, I don't have 4 more years to go. In fact, I have 3 at the most (the law school years), but I plan on taking some summer classes so it may go by even faster.
I don't suggest subscribing to the elitist attitude that says only to go X or Y. I didn't at least. I didn't tailor my life, undergrad college choice, or major around getting into that "elite" law school. Do what you want to do. It isn't worth living a life of regrets and/or low-self esteem because you only went to T4 or T2 or whatever-you should be proud of what you are doing period. The benefits of going to the "named" schools extend as far as the networking capabilities and this can be beneficial in helping you land jobs nationally. This doesn't bar the vast majority of students who went to T2 and below from applying nationally, it just makes it more difficult due to distance, alumnus, etc...It will also be harder to move if the grades aren't there. To the extent employers focus on names alone is sickening.
All-in-all I'd just say be realistic and realize sometimes the grass isn't greener. Money can be made anywhere. Is it worth hodling out for that "big name school" and putting off your dream in the meantime? I personally have no aspirations of moving to New York, or anywhere else up North or West. I am content and want to stay in the South/SouthEast, so I am fine where I am. I may try to transfer to a school in my region that may offer a better program in the area of law I want, but the "rank" will not mean much, if anything in my decision (of course this will be hard to transfer to another JD/MBA program). Ultimately, Down the road the paper on the wall will mean nothing compared to the accomplishments made in business and in law. I guess all of this can be summed up by saying money isn't the main factor in all of my decisions and I know I will be making less than those from the "elite" schools. A lot of that is due to location and higher pay rates anyways. I am looking for meaning, purpose, and autonomy, a lot of which seem to be more prevelant outside of "Biglaw" and the bustling mayhem of the legal "hotspots".