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The Business of Law – Law Schools and Business Degrees

Posted by: Laurence Simons 10/07/15

We have written before on the question of whether lawyers should do a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), in reaction to the growing demand for business acumen within legal talent pools. In answer to our question, the UK’s University of Law has announced that it is launching a business school which will run undergraduate classes from this September. The degrees will be in business and management, business and finance and business and marketing.

But why these specific subjects? Provost Andrea Nollent has commented on the courses: “We talked very closely with firms and what clearly emerged was the increasing need for lawyers to have commercial skills and complementarity of that with a business school was clear.” Although the main focus of work for lawyers is still firmly within the legal sphere, time allowance for clients is drastically impacted by efficiency in management processes. Ian Jeffery, managing partner at UK firm Lewis Silkin, who boasts both a London Business School (LBS) executive MBA and experience as a litigator, comments on the value of business, finance and marketing knowledge that : ‘Marketing looks at value; finance looks at cost of delivery and profit margins; and economics looks at competitive dynamics. All those elements have to be considered when making decisions on pricing strategy.’

This is not the University of Law’s first flirtation with disrupting traditional legal recruitment methods. It has partnered up with Mayer Brown, a London-based law firm, to offer apprenticeships to school leavers who wish to leapfrog university or law school. It seems that the legal sector is not turning its back on traditional staffing practices, but it is definitely breaking the mould and encouraging alternative methods of training and legal recruitment. And what does this reflect? A constantly evolving business sector?

We often hear of wacky projects within other disciplines, take for example the company that uses horses to identify leadership characteristics. Although the legal sector is hardly likely to participate, it is becoming clear that the business structure of law is emerging as more prominent than ever before, and those who can speak the language have the potential to reap the rewards.