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Saturday, December 13, 2008

AALS Workshop on Transactional Law

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Longbeach

You may want to mark your calendars for next June's AALS Workshop on Transactional Law, June 10-12, in scenic Long Beach, California.  If you go, keep your eyes open for flying buses and '67 Shelby GTs.  (Both scenes are set in or entering Long Beach; and yes, the dialogue in the second one is in Español.)  The workshop is part of the AALS Mid-Year Meeting.  Program details are not yet available on the AALS web site.  However, the November AALS News provides the following description, as well as a list of topic and speakers and registration information that you can access by clicking this link.

“Transactional law” refers to the various substantive legal rules that influence or constrain planning, negotiating, and document drafting in connection with business transactions, as well as the “law of the deal” (i.e., the negotiated contracts) produced by the parties to those transactions. Traditionally, the law school curriculum has emphasized litigation over transactional law. However, many modern lawyers serve corporate clients, and a significant percentage of lawyers engage in some form of transactional practice. Hence, law schools must place greater emphasis on training law students to be transactional lawyers, and should support law faculty engaged in scholarship focused on transactional law. To this end, in 1994, the AALS held a workshop on the transactional approach to law, which sparked experimentation and innovation in teaching and scholarship related to transactional law. Since that time, there have been significant developments in transactional law. This Workshop not only will take stock of those developments, but also will enable participants to gain some in-depth perspective regarding the relative benefits and drawbacks of those developments.

Law schools have attempted to respond to the demand for increased transactional training in a variety of ways, from integrating transactional law into traditional law school courses to developing stand alone “Deals” or “Business Planning” courses. A number of law schools have developed innovative programs in transactional law.  This Workshop will enable participants to discuss specific methods of teaching transactional skills with an eye towards ferreting out best practices. Should professors interested in teaching transactional law focus on substantive law, “transactional skills,” (i.e., planning, negotiating, and drafting), economic or other theories of business transactions, or all of the above? Should transactional skills be taught in separate courses or integrated into substantive courses?  If taught in separate courses, should such courses be part of the first-year curriculum, integrated throughout the three years, or focused on the upper-level curriculum?  How do you modify or supplement the traditional case method to teach students useful transactional skills?  The Workshop also will explore the challenges and benefits that arise for those who write or would like to write transactional scholarship.  And as initial matter, the Workshop will address how best to define “transactional scholarship” in a way that accurately captures the potential breadth and depth of transactional law, and how transactional scholarship differs from traditional legal scholarship.

The Workshop also will explore best practices for writing scholarship in this area, including methodologies for researching the legal, financial and practical effects of various corporate transactions. The Workshop will feature concurrent works-in-progress sessions, enabling participants to exchange ideas and insights regarding new scholarship related to transactional law.

One important goal of the Workshop is to bring together faculty from different doctrinal areas of law, including faculty who teach in the clinical setting.  Transactional law touches many substantive areas of law, and it is closely identified with bankruptcy, business associations, contracts, commercial law, intellectual property, labor and employment law, securities regulation, and taxation.  The Workshop will provide a unique opportunity for faculty members to make connections between their primary fields and transactional law, and thus should appeal to a broad spectrum of scholars and teachers.

[Keith A. Rowley]

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