Charlotte Henderson never considered herself a lawyer or business person. She had originally studied political science, psychology and international politics in her undergraduate degree, and it was during a political science class that a professor had introduced the Master of Business Administration admissions team from Dalhousie University's Rowe School of Business. In this presentation, Charlotte heard the MBA could be combined with a legal degree, which piqued her interest. After a bit of research, Charlotte realized the uniqueness of the program—with its direct entry option and the eight-month residency—and she was hooked.
She soon enrolled in the MBA/Juris Doctor program at Dalhousie, which still functions as two separate programs that can be joint upon acceptance into both. The entire degree is four years long, where the MBA alone would have traditionally been 22 months and the JD three years.
Charlotte quickly learned that this program would challenge her approach to learning.
"While the MBA is certainly still highly academic, there is a much greater focus on practical learning. We use business cases as a way to apply the skills we learn in class, and in upper years we even work directly with real companies on projects," Charlotte says.
Coming out of an organized and academic undergrad, Charlotte's type A personality was tested in the MBA/JD, as perfection is not a realistic goal in most real-life scenarios. She was so busy with multiple deadlines that she had to learn how to prioritize, to know her limits and to recognize when something was as good as it was going to get.
Between the two programs and time spent working with startup businesses, Charlotte learned to face tasks head on and to focus on doing her best with the resources she has.
"I have a more realistic approach to school, work and life in general. That wouldn't have been possible without this program and the real-life work opportunities it has given me," Charlotte adds.
Everyone in the program has worked tirelessly to ensure that multidisciplinary students, like Charlotte, have everything sorted for them—from communicating with other departments and faculties on their behalf, to helping students navigate the complicated administrative realities of being a multidisciplinary student.
"All of my professors and the administrative staff have left me with tools that I will cherish and use in my career beyond school. Be it sage advice, an improved work ethic, new opportunities, how to deal with ambiguity or pure knowledge."
Charlotte had originally enrolled in the MBA/JD because she didn't want to close any professional doors, but little did she know how many opportunities would open themselves up to her.
Charlotte has experienced working with two local tech startups and has learned that many startups are in need of legal support to protect their assets and for investment opportunities. As a new industry in Halifax, there's a lot of room for the legal profession to grow into this space and develop service offerings tailored to the needs of startups.
"As an old family friend, and former lawyer, once told me: 'Do something that no one else is doing and is in demand.' I think I may have found that here," Charlotte says.
She believes there's no other program that sets students up for success the way that the MBA/JD program does. The educational and practical experiences allow you to build life-long connections, the course offerings open your eyes to areas you didn't know existed and, more than anything, it gives you the ability to see complex problems through two different lenses and make a more informed decision.
"You will come out on the other end as a more confident and capable person who has the foundation and tools needed to be successful, regardless of which path you choose to take."