Sixteen weeks, five courses, twenty-two assignments, and one practicum-search have made for a busy Fall 2012. Throw in that nine of the fifteen LLMLEs are still lucky enough to have a significant other (three with kids), and it’s clear that coffee+ has been our saving grace. But this post isn’t about how each of us managed––though we all did. Rather, it’s about a few aspects of the program that came as unexpected surprises over the fall term.
1. Group Work *Gasp*
I know . . . tell a bunch of over-achieving lawyers that they’ll be working in MBA-like teams, and the reaction isn’t great. Maybe it’s just me, but “group assignment” immediately conjures visions of freeloading sophomores and needless interpersonal dynamics drama. But this time around has been different. For one, I had different groups for each class that required one. That means I’ve worked on course deliverables with about half of those in the program. And that’s been a net positive. Nabbing drinks doesn’t quite highlight core strengths quite like a tough assignment. I won’t say that I was a huge fan of every group assignment, but I have developed some appreciation for group work (admittedly starting from zero). In such a busy program, there were times when each of us benefited tremendously from the group picking up slack or challenging us forward. All told, I’m glad to have had the experience, though it was a surprise and adjustment for many of us.
2. Practicum: Have it Your Way
LLMLEs are far more involved in nailing down a practicum than many of us imagined. While the program is committed to discussing options and working connections where necessary, it’s primarily on the students to identify and pursue particular placements. There are strengths and challenges to this approach––the former being the chance to tailor the practicum experience to one’s particular career interests. There will be a whole post on practicums once everyone is set and starting next term.
Though each of us came to the program planning to network in the area, I think we were all surprised by the numerous opportunities we’d have to interact with the Triangle’s startup and services community. Most dinners, mingles, pitches, and incubator walk-throughs took place just down the road at the American Tobacco Campus or within a 30-minute radius of the Law School. Nobody attended everything, but everyone attended something (check out Eb’s guest post for a bit more about this).
The program is small, and class 4-5 days a week meant inevitable interaction. That could be a problem with the wrong set of people. Good news: These folks are ballers. Throughout the term, LLMLEs have traveled together, double-dated, lost their voices over game day festivities, chewed through a comprehensive list of area BBQ, and frequented an embarrassing number of beverage establishments. Though everyone else is too kind to admit as much, I was happily surprised that we didn’t get any bad apples in LLMLE ’13. They’re a great bunch of folks, and I’ll honestly look forward to making more great memories in the New Year –– memories you’ll find documented right here.
I’d like to introduce you to Suzy Fitzgerald (LLMLE ’13), one of the kindest and smartest folks you’ll ever meet. Suzy is an Illinois native, attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in Mechanical Engineering (like I said, smart). Suzy worked as a business analyst at JPMorgan Chase in Chicago before attending Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she was a national moot court champion. Suzy has been active at Duke and adapted quickly to her Durham surroundings. I hope every future LLMLE class has at least one Suzy.
Hi prospective LLMLEs! My name is Suzy and I’m excited to write a post about one of my favorite elective courses: Principles of Commercial & Bankruptcy Law. As you know, LLMLE students may enroll in a number of electives in addition to their core curriculum, both at the Law school and at Fuqua School of Business. I chose to write about this particular elective to give you an overview of the course in case any of you are thinking of taking it during your year.
Commercial & Bankruptcy law is taught by Professor Steven Schwarcz, who “helped to pioneer the field of asset securitization” – he’s kind of a big deal, just check out his faculty bio. Schwarcz is extremely knowledgeable in all areas of commercial law and his class provides a great overview of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and the Bankruptcy Code. But it isn’t everyday that you get a prof who leads his field and pens reviews of the Triangle’s restaurant scene.
The course follows a fictitious company, Groco, from its early formation through bankruptcy, touching on commercial law issues along the way. Professor Schwarcz is highly skilled at weaving together different Articles of the UCC so that the students can see the big picture. I took Secured Transactions during law school, but if someone had asked me how Article IX interacted with any other Article, I would have looked at them with a blank stare. Now, I understand how the Articles can work together and how the Bankruptcy Code affects a firm’s decisions in structuring commercial transactions.
I highly recommend this course to you future LLMLEs (and any other Duke student). Commercial Law can be dry at times, but Professor Schwarcz keeps it interesting and practical (he has great war stories!). Plus, I think commercial law is a topic that arises in lots of different practice areas and in life generally. If you did not take a UCC class during law school, this course gives you a basis in Sales, Secured Transactions, Commercial Paper and many other Articles.
When and if you have questions about the course, or the program in general, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I would be happy to share my thoughts!
It’s October. That makes it one full year since I pushed the “submit” button on my Duke application. At that time, the L&E Blog (then lovingly dubbed “Andy’s Blog” after its author) proved a valuable source of information not covered in the official admissions FAQ. But one of the hardest things to figure out was the general profile of the 15 or so students who would ultimately make up the class.
I still wasn’t sure that I had nailed down this seemingly important detail during my interview, following admission, or even when I accepted a seat in LLMLE ’13. However, it took all of the first five minutes of orientation to realized that there was no fixed profile. That was a pretty liberating discovery, and it confirmed that I had made the right call in applying. If you’re on the fence, I’d encourage you to make the choice I did.
We come from all over the country. We’ve done all sorts of interesting things. And if you’ve been following the L&E Blog, you know a bit about how widely Eb’s and my experiences vary. If we can mesh with the LLMLE program, I’m certain most could. But to dispense with any lingering notions you may have about “optimal” LLMLE candidates, check out this infographic of a more or less representative smattering of LLMLE ’13:
If you’re a prospective student wondering if it is worth your time to submit an application, let me know if I can be a resource in your decision-making process. Especially if you’re not certain how your background would fit in the LLMLE experience, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ll likely be able to connect you with a current student with a similar set of experiences.
Good luck with applications!
Guest Post by Eb Bernazard
Josh here . . . I’d like to quickly introduce Eb Bernazard, an all-star in the Class of ’13 and probably one of the busiest folks I know. Eb is from Princeton, NJ (via Winter Springs, FL). He attended Rutgers University and then the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. Licensed in Pennsylvania, Eb handled intellectual property issues in-house for the City of Philadelphia, commercial litigation at a law firm, and was the New York business manager for Melissa’s (the nation’s largest specialty produce supplier). So Eb’s a baller. At Duke, Eb is enrolled in Financial Information and Analytical Methods as electives. Alright . . . back to the Post.
My name is Eb Bernazard, and I’m guest-starring on the L&E Blog to help out my friend Josh and to give our readers another perspective on the program. To that end, I’m going to take you through two of the most interesting days I’ve experienced in the program up to this point. The two days center around the CED Tech Venture Conference held this month in Raleigh.
8AM: Signed-in as a volunteer for the CED Tech Venture 2012 Conference. When you’re in the Triangle, you throw around “CED” and people know what you’re talking about. An entrepreneurial support organization, CED formed in 1984 and has since launched upwards of 700 companies and currently serves more than 5,500 active members from 1,100 companies in NC. The LLMLE gets us CED memberships (including one free conference). But volunteering for a few hours meant this one would be at a significantly reduced cost, and I could attend a second conference without cost. For a bit, I checked-in CED staff , board members, and many of the 70 companies and sponsors presenting at the conference.
9:30AM: Left the conference for Duke in time to make Advising the Entrepreneurial Client (10:40AM), which covered LLC Operating Agreements.
NOON: Back to Raleigh and the conference, this time as an attendee. Mark Tempelton, President and CEO of Citrix Systems, was the opening speaker and provided his insights on successful entrepreneurship. After the opening remarks, there was so much activity around . . .
- Lightning Rounds – Companies gave 2-minute pitches throughout the day to generate interest in their idea and (of course) their booth. I enjoyed getting a feel for the entrepreneurial community.
- Company Demos – As I talked with a number of companies reps about their concept and approach, many were interested in learning more about the Duke Law & Entrepreneurship LLM. Always a good sign.
- Financing Panel – Four venture capitalists discussed their method of evaluating companies and explained the venture financing process.
6:45PM: I had to skip out during part of that last panel to be back on campus for the Law & Entrepreneurship Seminar at 7:30PM. As Josh mentioned in his last post, that course is organized primarily as a guest-presenter seminar. On tap for that evening was David Rizzo, President & CEO of NC Idea, a not-for-profit group that makes startup grants and coaches new companies through the process of goal-setting.
It was a lot of running around, but I did not want to miss class, especially Kip Frey’s seminar (the fact that he’s the director of our program may have had a bit to do with it . . .). But seriously, the running around really was not that bad. Coming from the Northeast, I actually found it amazing that successfully jumping back and forth was even possible.
8AM: Back to my volunteer responsibilities at the registration table. As the conference had started the day before, there were fewer companies but more Angel investors and Venture Capitalists. The early morning volunteering bit ended soon enough, and I was off to hear more lightning round pitches from startups and spend time with a good number of demo companies.
In addition to learning about the companies, the conference demonstrated in one location just a part of all the start-up activity in the Triangle. I was able to meet some great people and make excellent contacts. The conference was a great opportunity and thank you to everybody at the CED, especially Jane Royall, Scott Arnold, and Glen Caplan.
But wait the day is not over . . . back to Duke for group work, Business Strategy for Lawyers.
This is just a snap shot of two days in the program, and I hope that I was able to capture a little bit of my experience.
While the program and professional events keep us busy, it’s not all business over here as Wednesday night ended with beers and pins with the Duke Law Bowling League. It was a great time with members of the LLMLE folks –– a come from behind victory added to the good times.
I look forward to what is around the next corner and to hear and read about the activities of my fellow classmates. If you would like more information or have any questions, feel free to contact me at Eb.Bernazard@duke.edu.
LLMLE ’13 is hitting a stride of sorts. Informal hangouts and frequent group assignments have meant getting acquainted outside of the intensity that was orientation. And we’re picking up a sense for each other’s individual interests, strengths, and what drew them us to Duke Law. I’ve asked for a few guest posts so that you’ll get a few more viewpoints and a broader feel for the unique backgrounds and experiences students bring to our program.
But for now, I thought you might enjoy reading a bit about what fills our days (for some of us 6 days/wk) on campus.
This term includes three core courses required for each LLMLE: Business Strategy for Lawyers, Law & Entrepreneurship, and Advising the Entrepreneurial Client.
Our program’s official website describes the required coursework, but it’s always difficult to gauge how things actually shake out . . . so here’s the 4-1-1.
Business Strategy for Lawyers is taught by John deFigueiredo, who straddles faculty posts at the law school and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. He packs a Ph.D. in Economics, with all implied powers of calculation and batteries included. He’s a fantastic teacher –– at least so far. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at the whiteboard snapshot from the end of our last class, and trust that 98% of it made sense (and I’m a social science guy).
If demand curve elasticities and regressions didn’t define your law school experience, you’d be in good company among LLMLE ’13. The course is organized around Harvard Business School cases meant to put you in the decision-making position for a particular company at a crossroads. There’s no “It is so ordered” at the end of those things, and that’s a nice switch-up for most of us.
Law & Entrepreneurship is taught by the director of our program, Kip Frey. It’s a once/week course open exclusively to LLMLE students, which allows us to go in-depth on issues affecting entrepreneurial development. For the past few weeks, we’ve enlisted a ‘live products’ launch as an evolving case study for our course. Facts change from week to week because they’re actual facts, not hypos. The real venture incorporates some cutting-edge science, a few million in raised capital, and a top-notch marketing firm. So we’re adapting to the concrete issues and uncertain outcomes that define entrepreneurial endeavors. Apparently, we’re not in Kansas any more.
Advising the Entrepreneurial Client (or How to Sip from a Fire Hydrant) is taught by Erika Buell, a former in-house counsel and transactional attorney. The course centers around a long-term hypothetical venture’s incorporation process, launch, initial capitalization, and sale. So far, we’ve worked in a static teams (similar to an MBA course format) to draft and revise legal agreements. But don’t let the world of articles drafting fool you; students are just as likely to be asked for a business strategies recommendation foreign to our comfortable legal box.
If all those weren’t enough to keep thing hopping, LLMLEs enroll in two or three elective courses.
So far, members of our class have populated Copyright, Corporate Reorganization, Fixed Income Markets, Intellectual Property & Public Domain, Analytical Methods, and Commercial Bankruptcy. That’s just at the law school. A few LLMLEs are also enrolling in MBA classes, including Economics and Management of the Pharmaceutical Industry and Invention to Application.
Outside class, our class is getting involved in the Center for Entrepreneurial Development and a few plan to attend the annual Internet Summit in November. Durham’s restaurant, pub, and food truck scene is keeping us well fueled.
That’s it for this week, and I’ll keep you posted with a ground view of life as an LLMLE.