Michael Adler ’20

Hometown: O’ahu, Hawai’i
Class Year: 
Prior Education: 
University of Hawai’i

What was your background before attending Lewis & Clark?

I am from Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi and before enrolling in college, I accrued a decade of managerial experience in the Hawaiian hospitality industry. I pursued business studies as an undergraduate, double majoring in accounting and finance. 

Why did you decide to do the joint JD/MBA program? 

When I applied to law school, I already knew that I planned to focus on business law. When the new joint JD/MBA partnership between Lewis & Clark Law School and Portland State University was announced, I saw it as a great opportunity to sharpen my business skills while concurrently completing my legal education. 

What is the benefit of doing the joint program?

Though most students pursuing this program are likely headed for a career in business law, the JD/MBA is also valuable for students who possess a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Whether you hope to hang your own shingle someday or you dream of opening a side business in addition to your legal career, it pays to have a solid understanding of business fundamentals. Career flexibility is also a big perk. JD/MBAs may pursue a traditional path into the legal field, or they may enter the business world with the goal of upper management or executive leadership. Either way, it is nice to have options. As a student of both Lewis & Clark and PSU, there is also the added benefit of doubling your internship and networking opportunities! 

Do you have any advice for students considering the JD/MBA Program?

Law school and B-school are quite different pedagogically. In law school, most classes are taught through the Socratic method and final grades are typically determined by one comprehensive final exam. Though students have the option of studying with their peers, it is the individual effort that matters. Comparatively, in B-school, great emphasis is placed on team building and collaborative learning. Students are generally teamed up with 3–4 peers in each class and, as a group, they work together to produce the deliverables that determine final grades. Although these differences may seem intimidating, they’ll allow you to draw from different facets of your mind and personality. I encourage students to think of it as an opportunity to develop a well-rounded professional perspective. 

Keep in mind too that the curriculum of each school will call you to draw upon different skill sets. MBA students take courses in accounting, finance, economics, and managerial analytics (incorporating statistical methodologies). For any students considering the JD/MBA, if you haven’t used those math skills in a while, don’t panic! You can still succeed in this program. As I mentioned, you’ll be working heavily with teammates and you usually get a great deal of autonomy in selecting your teammates. If math isn’t your strong suit, team up with partners who excel in the area. Most courses also offer tutoring, so never be afraid to ask for help.

What has your experience been like during your time at Lewis & Clark?  

I have really enjoyed my experience at Lewis & Clark. I find the faculty engaging, friendly, and approachable and I appreciate the flexibility students are afforded in designing their own course tracks. As a kinesthetic learner, I thrive in experiential learning models. The school’s clinical internship programs provided a great opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience while also helping members of our local community. I also participated in the Externship Program, which allowed me to gain school credits while working for a law firm.

Are you involved in any other activities on or off-campus?

I am a Lead Article Editor for the Lewis & Clark Law Review. I work with a great team and have enjoyed the camaraderie of working together to achieve a common goal. At Portland State University, I was the chapter President of the Golden Key International Honour Society. I was also an active member of Phi Kappa Phi and a Team Leader for B Impact Student-Led Consulting (helping local businesses obtain B Corp Certification).