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Can lawyers benefit from understanding business? Emphatically, yes.



 

I am writing this post completely independently of BPP.¬†As a current LPC student at BPP Law School in Holborn, I was very interested to read a recent article about a pilot of a new course to commence in September 2012, thought to be the first of its kind, called “MA (LPC with Business)”. The LPC of course has a formal name in itself ‘Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice’, so it makes complete sense to ‘top up’ LPC modules with further modules to constitute a degree-level course.

I think the critical thing about this new course is that it allows students to study both business and law concurrently. I am one of the few people in the UK to have done postgraduate qualifications in law (LLM) and business (MBA), though there are some very senior people who have done both. I therefore studied business and law separately, and it took me around three or four years in total, but I think a combined Masters for future trainee lawyers is a very good idea.

Most of the general public do not have a good understanding of what business is. The tragedy is most people on completing the GDL do not either, and even the exposure to management theory and practice is limited on the compulsory practice area ‘Business Law Practice’ on the Legal Practice Course. This is limiting, as I believe that corporate lawyers benefit from understanding the business motives of their clients. I don’t believe this is the same thing at all as necessitating a psychiatrist should have a history of severe depression, but I think it’s more similar to a cardiologist wishing to help a patient with his depression so that his heart symptoms get better. This analogy brings out a problem of this relationship – the patient does not probably wish to come to see a cardiologist about his depression, and would prefer to see a specialist psychiatrist anyway about his depression.

You learn things in business management which you simply do not learn in the business law practice course in the LPC. There are too many to list here in this brief personal opinion, but a clear example is how to draft up a business plan. Business students also learn in depth about organisations and culture, corporate strategy, operations, leadership, marketing, economics and (sometimes) innovation. More specifically, there are “learning outcomes” which are clearly beneficial in this context (see for example module 1 of the SJ Berwin “Masters in Law” with Business programme prospectus):

  • assess the relevance of concepts of economic theory to the competitive context within which a business operates;
  • apply techniques of business and market analysis;
  • analyse the determinants of competitive advantage and the techniques for assessing strategic potential;
  • examine a range of techniques used by commercial organisations as the basis for formulating a business strategy and creating a strategic plan for leaders in a business;
  • consider the challenges presented in implementing a business strategy and achieving organisational alignment; and
  • critically assess business practice in relation to risk management, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.

Likewise, you can learn things in postgraduate legal studies which you don’t learn in business, like how to draft up commercial legal agreements, the details of intellectual property and their protection, and the regulation of financial activities in the City. In my LLM (done at the College of Law), the course providers were at pains to ensure you could ‘read’ a complicated commercial law case, knew how to pitch legal services to a client through an oral presentation, and knew how to draft complicated agreements. I have not done these activities to such a detailed level on the LPC.

I don’t think it’s a problem that I never studied these concurrently, however. For example, the award-winning Simmons and Simmons LPC/MBA course allows you to study these subjects side-by-side. ¬†Either way, I feel hand-on-heart it’s a brilliant strategy by BPP to offer such an integrated specialised training, which I can see as very appealing to the corporate clients of BPP. As I am clearly not doing these courses myself, I hope you will allow me my strong endorsement of them!

Excellent meeting



This evening, I had a wonderful meeting. I have now spent 4 years and 1 month in recovery, and I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in that time. I am having a wonderful time with my work professionally. In fact, I am completing a book review for a prestigious economics journal on the economics of happiness, which will take up most of the night and tomorrow morning.

Finally, I had a brilliant time in my recovery meeting this evening in North London. We discussed again what it meant to be living in a life of complete recovery, once you have overcome the initial challenge of maintaining abstinence.

We have a wonderful time, and indeed they have all gone off to one of the group members’ house for dinner to socialise; I have come back to have dinner with my Mum, as they appreciate; we live alone in Primrose Hill. I have a delivery coming tonight shortly, including a Lamb Chop Balti and Chicken Tikka (made with olive oil of course).

It is a massive privilege for me to be able to continue my legal training next year. I love the law, and I will maintain my interest in the operations, systems and leadership of business through my MBA tomorrow. My work experience is still going well, as well as my professional commitments, including being a Senior Partner, and other big projects in progress or pending. I think my “lease-of-life” arose from coming top in the MBA economics and marketing examination here at BPP Business School, and doing very well in the MBA overall so far.

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