A one-year law school for non-lawyers: join us for a conversation about Emory’s Juris Master.
Meet Dr. Lynn Labuda, the director of Emory’s Juris Master program. After years of working in business, she earned her EMBA from Emory’s Goizueta School of Business in 2007, and her PhD in Education in 2015. She’s led the Juris Master program since 2012. Welcome!
What is the Juris Master program? [1:30]
It’s a 30-credit program for people who don’t want to be practicing lawyers, but who want to understand the law as it relates to what they do. About 80% of the students are working professionals and are enrolled part time, taking 2-2.5 years to complete the program. The remaining students are full-time—recent graduates (from college or grad school) who want to use the program to supplement their educational background as they launch their careers. Taking courses full time, it’s a 1-year program.
For example, some of the full-time students are pre-med students taking the course during a gap year before med school.
How the program came into being [5:15]
Emory’s law school wanted to reach a broader audience — not only people who planned to practice law, but also people who wanted to learn about the law, particularly in their own professional fields. (For example, physicians who want to move into healthcare administration and want a deep understanding of health law.)
Curriculum overview [7:22]
Incoming students take two required courses:
1. Introduction to the American Legal System (which gives them an introduction to contracts, torts, criminal law, property law, etc)
2. Analysis, Research, and Communication for Non-Lawyers (which trains them in foundational skills for law school)
Then they can select among many concentrations (for example: employment, health, IP, etc), and tailor their courses to their interests. They can also customize their concentration.
Most classes are taken alongside Emory’s JD students. The mandatory first year courses are JM specific. [9:19]
This is a benefit to the whole law school program: since so many of the JM students are mid-career professionals from diverse backgrounds, their experience adds to the JD classes.
The size of the program [10:50]
At any given time, there are about 70-80 students in the program (full and part-time combined). They’ve graduated about 80 so far.
The application process [11:12]
It’s a straightforward online application. They want to know about your educational and professional background; they require letters of rec; undergrad and graduate transcripts; and a personal statement. The personal statement is very important for showing your motivation for pursuing the degree.
What is Emory looking for in a successful applicant? [12:20]
Someone who is a good fit and will benefit from the program. They want people whose goals align with what the program is doing. It’s not for people who want to be professional lawyers – it’s important to understand what the program is and what it’s not.
They want students who can handle the academic rigor of the program – it’s a law school program that requires strong critical thinking skills.
And they’re looking for students who will make a contribution to the Emory community.
What role does work experience play? [15:10]
They’re not looking for a certain level of experience. Some candidates are mid-career, and others are recent grads who are looking to build on their academic foundation. Diverse student perspectives are valuable too.
Given that they accept test scores from multiple exams (GRE, GMAT, MCAT, etc), is there a certain score range they’re looking for? [16:45]
They consider applications holistically. If you have a master’s degree, you don’t need standardized test scores. If you only have an undergrad degree, you need to submit scores.
In general, the qualitative verbal reasoning side of the exam is important to show your aptitude for the law school environment. (The quantitative score is less important.)
How are grads using the degree? [18:30]
One recent grad, who created a course of study focused on compliance and business law, is now the managing director of Deutsche Bank in London.
The knowledge you gain in the program is immediately applicable in your career.
Another student did the JM in Health Law between med school and residency, and it was an important distinguishing point in her residency applications and interviews.
The media and marketing specialization [22:15]
A student came in as a marketing manager, took classes focused around contracts, media, sports & entertainment law, and is now a PR manager at a major corporation.
Are MBAs choosing this program (over a joint MBA-JD)? [23:50]
They see more students right out of undergrad, pairing the JM with an undergrad business degree.
Are there other JM programs? [25:00]
There are about a half dozen in the country, but most are much more specific in what they offer. Emory offers the broadest range of concentrations and courses.
Premeds doing the JM during a gap year before med school [27:50]
They have two students who just graduated from the program who will begin med school in August. The JM can be a great differentiator for people applying to med school.
Advice for applicants still in college [29:15]
Understand where you want to be in your career, and how/whether the JM can help you. It provides a really solid foundation in the law, which can be a benefit in a lot of fields.
Looking ahead [30:45]
In 2017, they’re looking at launching a low-residency or online option – possibly focused around the healthcare law or business compliance concentrations.
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