In-House Counsel in Modern Corporations
This course emphasizes experiential learning to develop lawyers who are effective in innovative, non-standard, and non-traditional modes. Students will learn skills to support those issues which face many organizations ranging from large companies to small-scale entrepreneurs. Exposure to serving as a manager of business risks will provide the student the ability to be effective in working with people and companies, particularly those in innovative industries. Students will thematically examine that innovation in the legal practice is often driven by the client demands of in-house counsel (to address their own business clients’ needs), such as changes to standard hourly billing models, the influence of “business-side” trends on the legal profession (e.g., application of Lean/Six Sigma, influence of “Big Data”), the use of cloud-based legal technology platforms, and the increasing need to act as a predictive, forward-looking counselor. In addition to legal issues, students will build practical business skills such as business writing, metric-tracking and counseling the non-lawyer business client in order to realize business objectives.
Regardless of whether in-house practice is a career aspiration, the topics covered in this course will be useful to anyone representing a corporation or interacting with those who do. By learning the demands that corporations, the law, and the legal industry place on in-house counsel, students will learn to become better outside legal advisors for their in-house clients. Likewise, members of the plaintiffs’ bar and government attorneys often find themselves across the table from those who represent corporations and will benefit from an understanding of these issues.
Grades will be allocated as follows: 10% class participation, 60% biweekly assignments and 30% final project. This mix is proportional with the structure of the class as well as recognizes the amount of time students will likely dedicate for each aspect of the assessment.
Students will demonstrate practical skills through bi-weekly assignments and class participation, such as: (1) translate a legal memorandum into a shorter, business-oriented advice piece for use in a business context by an internal stakeholder (Board of Directors, CEO, individual manager, etc.), (2) review a draft contract and provide recommendations to a sales representative, addressing not only legal concerns but business concerns as well, or (3) develop a program for training internal business clients on a designated topic. Students may be asked to present and defend their recommendations before the class and guest lecturers (which may include in-house counsel or business clients). Finally, students will engage in a final project to evaluate and select a law firm which meets their in-house legal needs, as pitched by students from the Innovation Practice Institute’s “Legal Services Marketplace” course.