The Best From Two Worlds

04. Dezember 2020

Studying law and learning business administration and economics on the side? Degree programs that combine several disciplines are becoming increasingly popular. However, there are still frequent concerns. Doesn't a business law degree mean that you are neither a "full lawyer" nor a "full BWLer"? We interviewed the expert, StB Dr. Margitta Markert, Director Tax at KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft.

The program "Business and Law" is designed to teach economic thinking in a legal context. "In my 30 years of professional experience as a tax consultant, this ability is a decisive basis for understanding complex issues in companies and providing optimal advice to clients," says Dr. Margitta Markert, academic director of the Business and Law course at Dresden International University.

Not all degrees are the same. The "Business and Law" program can be completed with an LL.M. or an MBA - does the degree depend on the previous course of study or are applicants free to choose the degree they wish to take? 
In principle, the applicant is free to choose the degree, but the requirements of the LL.M. are not easy to meet for students without previous legal training. This is often evident in the Master's thesis, which is a challenge for the degree. 

Dr. Markert, after graduation, many people strive for a career as quickly as possible. To what extent can additional qualifications be helpful and why should graduates consider the possibility of an LL.M. or MBA close to the state examination?
Every additional qualification provides insights that are helpful for professional practice, and graduates cannot get enough of them. The challenges for professional activities are constantly increasing, business life has become more complex and requires permanent adaptation to ever faster changing conditions. The graduates have to face these challenges and then a lot of well-founded knowledge can help.

In practice, business and law are closely related, but are considered separately in the course of the respective Bachelor's or State Examination courses. Does the combination of both areas within the Master's program already make the education more practice-oriented?
A practice-oriented education presupposes theoretical foundations and attempts to expand this knowledge with practical cases to form ready-to-use knowledge, naturally also by expanding the fundamentals. Merging the two areas alone does not help. What is important is the interdisciplinary work on the cases, which is exactly where the added value for the graduates is created. This look beyond the "edge of one's own nose" into the adjacent discipline provides the added insight.

How is the daily study routine organized? Is the focus on face-to-face events or webinars? Are practical sections also included?
In the current corona situation, it is not always easy to organize the daily study routine at DIU.  Here we have taken different paths. We will conduct all courses as planned and as often as possible in classroom teaching. Of course, I consider classroom teaching to be particularly important; it is the joint work, communication and discussion in the lectures and here also the practical work on case studies. If this is not possible, we also transfer all this to virtual events.

The MBA is relatively uncommon among lawyers. For whom, however, is it advisable to prefer the MBA to the LL.M.?
Lawyers who are interested in working in companies or for companies should particularly strive for the MBA. The business economists' approach to solving problems is naturally quite different from the legal approach. Often business economists and lawyers talk about a case, but both talk completely at cross purposes. This vacuum must be cracked in order to solve a case optimally from a legal and business perspective.

There are already economic focal points in university education. How much use are these in an LL.M. or MBA and how much further does the course of studies "Business and Law" go, for example?
The "Business and Law" program conveys practical, interdisciplinary approaches. 

The LL.M. and MBA are well known to many people, but what are the differences between the two degrees?
The differences result from the course contents, the LL.M. with strong legal contents and the MBA with strong business contents. 

The program of both degrees at DIU seems to be structured very parallel, except for degree specific modules for the LL.M. and the MBA. Do only these modules make a difference, or are there already differences within the other standard modules in relation to the desired degree?
The basic concept is first of all the interdisciplinary approach for all graduates. There are supplementary modules and, of course, the final thesis, which is an essential building block and requires special skills in the legal or business administration field. Depending on the degree, the thesis is approved by the academic management and must meet the requirements of the respective discipline. 

"Judex non calculat" is a well-known saying among law students. How much mathematics does the participants of the programs have to deal with and can a lack of affinity for it lead to difficulties? 
Pure mathematics is not the problem. For lawyers, the difficulties often arise in finding the facts of a case. In the case of business facts, it takes business thinking to recognize a problem in the first place. A legally perfect contract can be an economic catastrophe, and vice versa, of course. Deriving economic consequences from contracts is a challenge for business economists and lawyers alike.

Hand on heart, what is the biggest challenge for MBA and LL.M. students and how does Dresden International University try to facilitate progress at this point?
The program demands a lot from the students and often time is very short. Most students are already professionally active and underestimate the time required. We try to be as flexible as possible here, but the degree can only be achieved through personal performance. Of course the lecturers also support students with additional literature references and personal conversations. 

LL.M. plus MBA? Is it possible to finish the program with both degrees by completing both specialization modules?
Students can take in-depth courses in both areas (LL.M. and MBA), but must choose one of the two degrees. The additional knowledge acquired will be confirmed in a certificate if necessary.     

Is there an N.C. to be observed in the Master's programs or are the participants selected according to other criteria?
Participants must meet the admission requirements. These include a first academic degree and professional experience. A N.C. is not defined.

How are the study programs structured? Is it possible to switch between the programs without too much effort if, for example, the participant wants other modules or wants to pursue an LL.M. instead of the MBA?
The study program is modularly structured. Most of the modules are interdisciplinary in their content and must be taken by all students. The differentiation towards the Master's degree is based on the specialization module, so that the participants do not have to decide between the MBA or the LL.M. until the end of the program.

Money is not an issue - or is it? Are there funding programs or other ways to finance the study program at DIU, Dr. Markert?
There are various support and financing options, for which DIU provides comprehensive advice to interested parties if necessary.

How much work does the lecturers* put into the programs and how have they developed since their beginnings (or your beginnings?)? What does the DIU do to keep them constantly attractive and up-to-date?
Lectures also need to be constantly updated, legal and also business fundamentals change and thus the focus in the lectures can also shift. It is important to us to sensitize students to the risks of the disciplines of economics and law so that they can work successfully in or for companies. Students participate in the development of the program through their questions. Current topics, changes in the law or suggestions are integrated into the lectures. There are always challenges, also for the lecturers, but it's fun and sometimes even I get to think about the students' questions and that's a good thing. 

And your conclusion, Dr. Markert?
I meet some students from time to time and so far nobody has said that studying has not been worthwhile. This is a success that is quite respectable. 

Many thanks, Dr. Markert! 

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