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9 in 10 uni graduates are employed full time.1

Uni grads earn 15-20% more than those without a degree.2

Deakin postgraduates earn 36% more than undergraduates.3

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Why a Juris Doctor could help make you management material

If you’re looking to make the next move in your career, and more study is on the cards, you might want to consider how a Juris Doctor can help you.

The prestigious Juris Doctor can also equip you with a range of critical thinking skills to take your career to the next step.

What is a Juris Doctor?                                                  

The Juris Doctor is a postgraduate degree aimed at non-law graduates, which satisfies the academic requirements needed to practise as a lawyer, says Deakin’s Juris Doctorate course director Karen Powell, who practiced law for 15 years before moving into academia.

For many students, the juris doctorate is a way to pivot in their career and to consider that they might want to be practising lawyers in the future ­– but not all our students are interested in practising law,’ Powell says.

A juris doctorate is a very structured, commercially focused program where you learn about all of the different types of law, from contract law to criminal law to evidentiary law and tort law, she says.

But it also goes beyond that, to the development of a broader understanding of the policy informing the law, by focusing on current policy issues and developing skills in the use of legal theory and legal research methods.

Students often come with some career experience, from a wide variety of fields including engineering, arts and technology, Powell says.

Be prepared for a heavy workload, with plenty of reading and writing.

Why would someone choose between a Juris Doctor and an MBA?

The two courses both offer mid-career opportunities to undertake continuing professional development and cultivate leadership skills, Powell says.

‘I think the differentiation between the two might be around whether a person is interested in the structural considerations of a legal framework (the study of law and policy). If that’s of interest, then students will tend to gravitate more towards the juris doctorate,’ she says.

‘Whereas the MBA tends to be a more broad-based study of a little bit of law, a little bit of finance, a little bit of marketing, a little bit more I’d say business-focused, versus legal and structural frameworks.’

Powell says students use the Juris Doctor in all sorts of sectors – for example they might be interested in technology and the law, or health law, but need to have a broad knowledge of Australia’s entire legal framework too.

'They might go on to run their own business; they might be in HR, or human rights.  Additionally, research positions, journalism, academia, and governmental policy work appeal to many law graduates. We really have quite a broad spectrum of opportunities for students.'

Karen Powell,
Deakin Law School, Deakin University

How could a Juris Doctor help you in business?

‘When you think about what’s required in the C-suite of a high level executive, they’re oftentimes challenged with developing their own business structure within a regulatory structure,’ Powell says.

She says business is conducted under a set of laws, such as contracting, and regularly compliance around areas such as the environment and health and safety.

‘The Juris Doctor gives a high level executive a deep understanding of that type of external structure or system.’

It can also be very handy for HR managers, who need to have a working knowledge of employment law and the frameworks around it.

Other skills you’ll learn in a Juris Doctor

Aside from gaining important knowledge around law and policy, there are plenty of other ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills that you’ll pick up during a Juris Doctor.

Powell says there’s plenty of focus on problem solving and critical analysis – for example how to problem solve in the current business environment.

‘In terms of what we might call soft skills, we also learn quite a bit around client interviewing, around persuasive writing, around negotiation, teamwork,’ she says.

Students also learn legal interpretation skills, and advanced research skills.

‘So students can, as an elective, actually join our solicitors in practising law while they’re still in law school and get the opportunity to really work on what you might see as the interaction of problem solving and soft skills for supporting clients,’ Powell says.

Opportunities for graduates

Upon completing the juris doctorate, graduates will have the necessary academic credentials to apply to practice as a licensed solicitor. Or if the end goal is to become a barrister, they can work their way towards the bar exam.

However, Powell says graduates end up in a wide variety of fields and leadership positions.

‘They might go on to run their own business; they might be in HR, or human rights.  Additionally, research positions, journalism, academia, and governmental policy work appeal to many law graduates. We really have quite a broad spectrum of opportunities for students.’

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Karen Powell
Karen Powell

Senior Lecturer, Deakin Law School, Deakin University

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