May 29, 2006
Training Transactional Lawyers
Posted by Victor Fleischer

Later this week I'll be in DC attending a meeting of the AALS Curriculum Committee.  I think I was asked to join the committee to represent those of us who view ourselves as training the future transactional lawyers of the world. 

If you are interested, read this paper to hear more about my philosophy for teaching Deals and why I think it matters.

But I haven't thought that much about what sort of changes ought to be made to the law school curriculum more generally.  Below the fold you'll find a few rough ideas -- which ones, if any, do you like? 

1.  Include contract drafting in the first year legal writing course.  (Thanks to Gordon for this idea.)

2.  A mandatory bridge course -- a sort of Deals for Dummies -- at the end of the first year or the beginning of the second year.  (I think Georgetown is trying to introduce transnational law this way.)

3.  Modify the first-year contracts course to include contracting as well as contract litigation. 

4.  More transactional clinics (e.g. entrepreneurship, nonprofits, low income housing).

5.  Joint projects with MBAs.

6.  More case studies and problems in the classroom, and fewer judicial opinions. 

7.  Integrate negotiation and drafting problems into more courses. 

8.  Hold a negotiation and drafting equivalent to a moot court competition. 

I'm not even in favor of all of these, so feel free to be harsh in the comments, or suggest alternatives. 

And some questions -- should transactional lawyering be integrated into existing courses, or taught separately?  Do we have to teach finance skills as well as contract negotiation, design, and drafting?  Which should come first? 

And how do we know which skills are best taught in practice, and which skills are best taught in school?  When I teach Deals, I feel most confident that the students are learning something valuable when I train them to think conceptually about transactions and what clients and lawyers think about when they design deals.  I'm less confident when I teach skills stuff (esp. negotiation).  Perhaps that's just about my own comparative advantage and not generalizable. 

Your ideas?  Comments from practitioners are welcome as well. 

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