June 23, 2011
Corporate Finance Roundtable - Which Kind of Corporate Finance Course are You Teaching?
Posted by Trey Drury

Thanks to Erik and the gang for putting these valuable panels together, and for inviting me to provide my two cents.

It has struck me in talking with fellow corporate-law types over the years that there are a wide variety of approaches to teaching Corporate Finance - more than any other course that I am familiar with in the business law curriculum. 

This variety stems from how faculty answer two fundamental questions about the course:

1. Do you want to teach a law course or a finance course?  

Are you going to focus on cases and lawyers and rules and regulations, or on formulas and markets and problem sets?  Do you spend more time on preferred stock and convertible debt, or NPV and CAPM?  All of us touch on both, but everyone I've ever talked to leans heavily in one direction or the other.  My rule of thumb is: do you require a calculator?  If so, you're teaching a finance course.

2. How does the corporate finance course fit into your broader curriculum?

Is this one of the few upper-level business law courses, or does your school have a laundry list of niche and seminar offerings for students who want to pursue a carrer as a corporate/securities lawyer?  If you're in the former circumstance (like me), there is more of an onus on the corporate finance course to include exposure to fundamentals like accounting, and to lean toward the "law" side in the law v. finance debate above.  If not, you're much more able to let your freak flag fly, as the kids say.

In my next post, I'm hoping to talk more directly about course coverage, including an accidental discovery I've made that has turned into the best part of my class.


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