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Law School Launches New Law and Business Program

Responding to the growing demand for business-savvy lawyers in corporate America, the Law School this fall launched the Virginia Program in Law and Business, a wide-ranging curricular innovation that will educate students in the fundamentals of business analysis. As Dean John Jeffries explains, "the lawyer who is unable to think quantitatively, who cannot unpack and understand risk and valuation, cannot serve the business client effectively." The Law School designed the Law and Business Program to address those needs.

"Legal training focuses on framing arguments, applying precedents and analogies, carefully sorting facts, and reasoning deductively," said Academic Associate Dean Paul Mahoney. "These skills are extremely useful, but insufficient. We will offer students the additional analytical and conceptual training typical of an MBA program, including quantitative analysis, accounting, and organizational behavior."

The first phase of the Law and Business Program consists of instruction in foundational business courses. This fall, courses in Accounting and Corporate Finance were taught in the Law School by faculty from the McIntire and Darden Schools, Whitfield Broome and Kenneth Eades. Beginning next academic year, the Law School will offer basic business law courses such as Corporations, Bankruptcy, and Securities Regulation in formats that presume and build on student familiarity with accounting and finance. Professors will integrate business and legal analysis in these core courses.

These courses will also be offered in a more traditional format for the benefit of students with different career interests who may not wish to invest in business instruction. The Law School will name these "Introduction to" courses to signal that their content is less ambitious than the Law and Business Program offerings.

In the next phase of the program, which will also begin next academic year, the Law School will provide a changing array of intensive offerings, taught chiefly by alumni in practice or business who will be in residence for shorter periods of two to four weeks. In the longer term, the Law School will offer problem-based courses for Law and Darden students, taught jointly by Law and Darden faculty.

Mahoney describes the program as a way of ensuring that Virginia lawyers will "understand how their clients think. When these students graduate from the Law School, they will have more than a lawyer's skill for predicting and dealing with disputes that might arise out of a business transaction. They will also understand what motivates the parties to the transaction and how those parties value the transaction and its components," he said.

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