Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I find myself again indebted to my former student, Ibukun Adepoju, JD, for this story. Me, I'm happy that a former student is taking the time to read our blog and to suggest stories worth blogging. I wonder how many current students are reading what we write...
In any event, this story is of interest to students and recent graduates. Monday's National Law Journal reported that one hundred Georgetown University Law Center students assembled last month in a sprawling lecture hall to kick off a brand new class on finance and accounting now offered at that law school. Dubbed the "Demystifying Finance Boot Camp," the class was the first in what dean William Treanor hopes will be a series of new courses focused on skills typically taught in business school but neglected in the legal curriculum.
So how did this course come into existence? The Journal explains:
Georgetown administrators spent two years querying alumni, faculty and legal employers about how the school should prepare students. The consensus? New graduates need a broader set of capabilities. Basic finance and accounting skills came up most often, so administrators started there. "We've always focused on teaching them legal analysis, but in order for them to succeed as a lawyer they have to be able to communicate effectively," Treanor said. "They've got be able to manage. They've got to be able to do strategic planning and understand finances."
Georgetown developed an intense, five-day course that would cover the basics — understanding the present and future value of money; bond and stock valuation; reading an annual report; understanding the relationship between an income statement and a balance sheet. The law faculty worked with professors from Georgetown's McDonough School of Business to identify the areas most relevant to lawyers and the best ways teach those skills to law students. Although in the pilot phase, Treanor expects to offer the course twice a year and add courses in management and strategic thinking.
In terms of enrollment, the new course was quite successful. Georgetown administrators had hoped to get 80 2Ls and 3Ls to sign up; 220 attempted to enroll; only 100 got in. Speaking for herself, my source told me she wishes her alma mater had developed such a course while she was a law student. I believe her thinking is spot on. I hope Georgetown does not mind if other schools take note and develop similar courses of their own. The words of Georgetown alumnus and financier of the boot camp, Jules Kroll, are instructive: "I find that the amount of financial literacy that is necessary to practice law is really lacking. People really are, for the most part, financially illiterate. You need context, which I think in the real world is something that's really missing. [The boot camp] introduces them to a whole new vocabulary."