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New programs at the intersection of business and law

Among the plethora of joint programs and partnerships announced recently are a handful of programs taking the study of business and law in different directions beyond the traditional four-year JD/MBA:

  • Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School this September are launching a three-year JD/MBA Program, in addition to their four-year JD/MBA. Columbia joins schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, and Yale in offering a three-year accelerated program.
  • In France, INSEAD and Paris 2-Panthéon-Assas, the law school at the Sorbonne, are partnering on a new master of laws degree program, and EMYLON Business School is working with the University of Lyon 2 for a joint program through which students will earn two masters degrees, in business and law.
  • As part of a collaboration between O.P. Jindal Global University and three Indiana University professional schools, IU’s Kelley School of Business will work with the Jindal Global Business School on the Indian’s school’s new master’s degree in business and law.

The law/business combination holds appeal for both those who see themselves as primarily lawyers and those who see themselves as primarily business people.

David M. Schizer, dean of the Columbia Law School and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, believes the rigorous style of thinking that lawyers learn is valuable to leaders in all contexts. And lawyers today need specific skills that business schools teach well, such as quantitative analysis and teamwork, he added. “Put it all together and I think it is a really magnificent education.” 

“I think we are bringing value to both sides,” agreed Amir Ziv, dean and professor of accounting at Columbia Business School. “Lawyers who are trained in business are better lawyers, and business people who are lawyers are better business people.”

Columbia’s accelerated degree is a nod toward student demand to gain knowledge and skills and get back into the working world quickly. To move students toward both degrees, the program will use some cross-listed courses team-taught by faculty from both schools, Ziv said. “This has big promise, because when you have two people with different training and different perspectives in front of the students, and they talk about the same material, what you get is not only great education for the students, but the faculty themselves are going to get new ideas, develop collaborative research, and change the research frontier.”

Indeed, joint law/business programs also reflect a global recognition of the value of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study, as well as a renewed emphasis on law and ethics in business.

The Kelley School at Indiana University, for example, has made a concerted effort to engage in emerging markets, and IU’s Maurer Law School already has a collaboration with OP Jindal in India, said Munirpallam Venkataramanan, associate dean of programs at the IU Kelley School of Business.

 “Collaborations going across business and law have been going globally from some time,” he said.  Whereas business is becoming a common global language, certain aspects of law are locally based, he said. As global entities, businesses must operate with an understanding of local laws and ethical norms.

 “It’s true most students or companies don’t say, ‘We really want to commit fraud.’ People start with great, noble intentions … but you have to make sure you’re legally well grounded in what you’re doing,” Venkataramanan said.

The Kelley School is just one of three professional IU schools involved in the OP Jindal partnership, which encompasses multiple schools and disciplines that go far beyond business and law. Similarly, the Paris 2-Panthéon-Assas is just one of three Sorbonne Universités involved in the INSEAD alliance, forged after the French government announced a stimulus package to spark cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional programs and research.

Venkataramanan sees most of the interest in the law/business program coming from those on the legal side who are interested in sustaining the business aspects of their profession. He believes there will be more collaborations with business schools across disciplines and across countries.

“In the long run, these types of programs will happen in various fields. Every field is going to have to collaborate with businesses, because business has gone global, both out of necessity and opportunity.”

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