As fourth years in our final year of the JD/MBA program, we have found that one of our favorite aspects of our HBS and HLS experiences has been the JD/MBA seminar. We looked forward to Tuesday nights last year as a time to meet, learn, and engage. Our peers presented on topics they were passionate about, all while taking in constructive questions and criticisms as they vehemently defended their innovative ideas. In fact, the seminar has been a longstanding tradition because it encapsulates what it means to approach ideas from two different disciplines. The seminar, an important facet to the program, is one of the best examples of how the JD/MBA program encourages rigorous but collaborative debate.

A bit of a background on the program—the JD/MBA is a four-year degree in which students spend their full first year at either Harvard Law School or Harvard Business School, their second full year at the other school, and their last two years taking classes at both. This enables students to get the full foundational curriculum and section experience at HBS and HLS through immersion in both RC and 1L before accessing the breadth of elective offerings the two schools have to offer. A central component of the program is the JD/MBA seminar, which students take in their third or fourth year. In the seminar, students present for an hour on a topic of their choice, drawing on past experiences, course learnings, and empirical evidence to educate the class and justify their position. During the presentation, everyone is encouraged to ask questions, offer their perspectives, and push the presenter’s hypothesis to test the soundness of the idea. Over the course of the year, students are exposed to a variety of presentations and topics reflecting the range of interests of students in the program—some focus more on the law and its effects on how business is conducted, while others approach their topics from a business-first standpoint, analyzing how businesses are impacted by the positive or negative externalities of the law.

Although the seminar is an intense experience, we have also found it to be one that stimulates deep reflection. On one end, the seminar is a rigorous academic capstone, pushing us to think deeply about and integrate what we have learned across our HBS and HLS educations. When people present, they use analytical frameworks derived from the first-year education taught in RC and 1L; these frameworks serve as foundations for further research and analysis. For example, our research has relied on property, torts, legislation and regulation, business valuation, strategy, and international economy concepts. These foundations are then applied to contemporary business and legal topics of the presenter’s choice. This year, we have presented and engaged with our peers on a wide variety of topics—ranging from the college admissions scandal to state intervention in low-income housing to the justice and economic considerations related to cannabis businesses and finally, to the legal and financial resources for addressing the opioid crisis—that are current in the news.

On the other end, the seminar is a locus for social interaction. Perhaps the best part is that the learning extends well beyond the seminar. We continue to the happy hours, discussing contentious parts of the debate and how to resolve those pieces. We will never forget the long-lasting, personal bonds forged in this seminar. In the future, this cohort gives us both the strength and the sounding board we need to help overcome obstacles and tackle complex problems. Our experiences in the program give us confidence that we will graduate equipped with a powerful tool—a degree that enables us to understand and positively impact our surroundings. But using a tool effectively requires training; the JD/MBA seminar has been the perfect practice ground.