This blog post is for current 1L and 2L students who are interested doing corporate law practice at a big or major law firm. “Business law” practice can encompass a broad range of practices. The discussion here focuses on corporate transactional practice. What courses should you be taking? Our website has a helpful “curriculum roadmap” for students interested in corporate transactional law. Cribbing from this roadmap, the courses below are foundational and thus should be required.
Corporations: This course teaches how corporations work and are governed from a legal perspective. Since corporate practice directly deal with these issues on a routine basis, the course is a necessity. This course should be taken in 2L.
Unincorporated Business Enterprises: This course teaches how non-corporate business entities, such as partnerships and limited liability companies, work and are governed from a legal perspective. Many entities that you will be working with in practice will be non-corporate entities. This course should be taken in 2L.
Business Enterprises Survey: As an alternative to taking Corporations and Unincorporated Business Enterprises, you can take Business Enterprises Survey (5 credits). This is a highly attractive option because instead of taking two courses for 6 credits (Corporations and Unincorporated Business Enterprises), you can get a similar coverage of materials in one course for 5 credits.
Securities Regulation: This is a required course if you are serious about doing corporate transactional work. Corporations and other businesses routinely do capital raising transactions. A business lawyer should have some background in the regulation of securities.
Corporate Finance: This is a required course. Securities regulation involve the regulation of securities. Regulations do not provide the substantive terms of securities; they are left to the transaction between the issuing company and the financiers. Corporate Finance is the course that teaches the legal and economic aspects of a security’s substantive content.
The above are the core courses identified in the roadmap for corporate transactional work. They should be considered mandatory if you are considering this line of work. If you pressed me for one additional recommendation, I would say that Mergers & Acquisitions would be a very useful elective course because M&A transactions are routinely seen in business law practice and the basic Corporations course does not have sufficient time to cover the subject thoroughly. Between financings and M&A deals, that covers a wide swath of the transactions that corporations routinely do. Additionally, I would seriously consider as an elective a transactional drafting course, which we offer in the curriculum.
How can a student best prepare for a corporate practice? First and foremost, get good grades to be competitive for jobs. Second, take the right courses to best prepare for practice and also to signal to the employer that you are serious about your education.