II. Teaching Methodologies
Courses in this area are well-suited to the use of problems, case studies, and simulations, and sometimes in combination with standard doctrinal study. These courses also utilize a variety of grading metrics.
In using case studies and simulations, teachers in this area use a significant number of negotiation and drafting exercises. In representing an entrepreneur, the lawyer is often one of the only, if not the only, professional advisor to the client. Case studies allow the professor to guide the development of business or technical literacy in the business of the case. Negotiating exercises allow the students to learn the hard lessons of preparation and flexibility in a controlled environment. Drafting is, of course, a primary role for lawyers in any transactional setting, and again, in the context of a case or simulation, requires the students to demonstrate their substantive legal knowledge as well as their ability to embed the business deal in the documents while abiding by client instructions or a negotiated outcome.
Some teachers use significant oral presentations in addition to written work product. Historically, the development of presentation skills, like those necessary for a Board of Director’s presentation, has been more common in Business than Law schools. These presentation skills are not in the form of the “oral argument” that most law students are exposed to, but represent transaction analyses and advice preparation. Since the goal of these courses is to inculcate combined law/business thinking in the students, presentations of this kind become part of the students’ tool kit.
Courses which are transaction-oriented often use a combination of individual presentations and group or team assignments. Again, team assignments are not common in traditional law school curricula. In addition to requiring students to develop their interpersonal skills, students are made to appreciate and understand other points of view in a circumstance where there are shared interests.
Outside visitors and guests lecturers are used in many of the courses described. These guests should be embedded in the discussion and actively participate, rather than simply lecture. In transactional analyses, guests who have “done” the type of deals – or the very deal – under discussion add important dimensions to the value that lawyers can bring to the table. Students respond enthusiastically to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who will talk about the roles their lawyers played. On the other hand, classroom guests should usually be rare. The value of a guest is enhanced when the students are substantively prepared, the guest is focused on the topic of the class session or sessions, and the professor has time to “debrief” the students afterwards. For courses that use simulations, guests are often happy to participate by taking on roles in the simulation outside the classroom.
A growing literature on the pedagogy of entrepreneurial lawyering is developing. Please visit the Articles on Teaching section to reference our bibliography.