Monday, November 20, 2023

Governance, Finance, and HBO Max's Succession

The title of this post is the name of the advanced business associations law course I will teach in the spring.  I got the idea for this course after talking to students about decreasing enrollments in advanced business law courses.  Although they attributed much of the decrease to grade shopping, they also noted that they and their peers often base course registration decisions on course names (from which they make assumptions) without reading the course descriptions.  So, a course named "Advanced Business Associations," no matter how creatively it is taught (and I teach it as a discussion seminar), is not likely to attract positive attention.  When I floated using the HBO Max series Succession as a jumping off point for a discussion seminar on business law, they responded favorably.  The rest is, as they say, history. The proof of the pudding will be in the registration numbers.

The idea for the Succession-oriented course came to me quite naturally. I already was writing an essay on fiduciary duties relating to the series--forthcoming in the DePaul Law Review in a special volume focusing on Succession.  So, it was only a small jump to think about teaching more broadly from the many business law situations in the four seasons of the show.

Some of my friends from West Publishing heard about my teaching plans when they were visiting UT Law recently.  They mentioned the course to their colleague, Leslie Y. Garfield Tenzer, who produces a podcast for West Academic, Legal Tenzer: Casual Conversations on Noteworthy Legal Topics.  Leslie reached out and asked me to record an episode with her on the series and my course, which I recently did.  The podcast was released last week.  You can find it here.

My Succession course syllabus is still under construction.  If you have a favorite episode that you would like me to include--one that illustrates concepts from business governance or finance--let me know.  I admit that I am excited to teach from the material in Succession, a series that I enjoyed watching.

Business Associations, Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Family Business, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink


I have little doubt that an expansion of more "experiential" would have students flocking to these courses. Also, although credit should be given to excellence, how little grades mean in ensuing years. Certainly not new, we're back to 1. The best and most demanding instructors are the ones looked upon with affection in later years; and 2. "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink."

Posted by: Tom N. | Nov 22, 2023 2:15:43 PM

Nice observations, Tom.

The Succession course will have experiential components. But it is not a course in which lawyering skills are in the driver's seat. My main goal is to help students feel more comfortable with the contents and application of legal doctrine and related theory and policy in context.

Of course, you are right that individual course grades have little—if any—lasting importance. Memories of grades tend to fade as time passes, too. But quality instruction often survives the test of time. And I know most of us business law profs work hard to provide quality instruction.

Ultimately, of course, the metaphorical horse drinking water (education) involves decisions and efforts on the part of both the leader (instructor) and the horse (student). Yet, getting that horse to drink is just the beginning. What the horse does once hydrated is what we all care about in the end.

Posted by: joanheminway | Nov 22, 2023 7:19:45 PM

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