The development of a mature business lawyer-advisor is a process that starts in law school but takes years to produce its result. Law school can allow students to create the foundation upon which a career as a corporate lawyer may be most effectively constructed. The foundational specialized legal knowledge for students interested in business law should include, in addition to the required course in Contracts, the basic course in Corporations and Securities Regulation.
In addition to being a sound lawyer, an effective business lawyer must also have specialized knowledge that allows her to understand her clients problems quickly and deeply. This understanding is not as a legal specialist alone, but rather is understanding of the problem as the client understands it: as a business problem. That knowledge will allow the creation of an effective framework for the legal understanding of the problem to be addressed. Therefore, the expert business lawyer must understand the language of business as well as the vocabulary and mechanisms of law. She must have a fundamental grasp of corporate finance and accounting because these topics often provide the means to understand the business problems that she will assist in solving. Thus students seriously interested in a business law practice should take the offerings in Accounting and Corporate Finance at a relatively early stage.
Other upper-level courses in business and corporate law allow students to appreciate the work of corporate and business lawyers and the regulatory environment within which they function. These courses cover many advanced topics, including cross-border transactions and “deal” or transaction focused classes. What is most important is that students acquire the analytical skills to see legal problems in their business context and sufficient mastery of legal doctrine and procedure to allow them to exercise imagination deploying legal skill to foresee and foreclose problems or to deal with them effectively when they arise.
Find out more about Corporate Law at NYU.