You have heard me speak before about the success of the law school’s two centers of excellence. Our Dispute Resolution Institute is ranked second in the nation by U.S. News. And our Health Law Institute, after just four years, is ranked within the top twenty.
But I haven’t yet spoken in my blog about the launch of our third center, the Business Law Institute. I thought I’d take a couple moments today to give you some background on BLI and give you an update on its new director.
We decided to form a Business Law Institute first and foremost because we aspire to excellence in legal education. As with DRI and HLI, we enhance our reputation as a law school by concentrating on fields of study where we can distinguish ourselves in teaching, scholarship and service.
We picked Business Law because of the growing number of professionals who want to gain the critical thinking, counseling and negotiation skills that come with a law degree, and who want to apply them in the world of business transactions. You’ve heard me say before that a law degree is the best extension of a liberal arts education, and that its value transcends the traditional practice of law.
That is particularly true in business, where clients seek more than just legal opinions but sound business judgment and advice. Yes, they want to know if a draft contract has state of the art indemnification language. But clients also want to know if they’re going to make money on the deal.
An effective business lawyer adds value to a business transaction by understanding and achieving the client’s business goals. The BLI’s enhanced business curriculum will better equip Hamline students with basic skills in business-planning, management and finance that will enable them to provide value-added lawyering as they guide transactions and resolve commercial disputes.
Finally, Hamline is uniquely positioned to have a thriving business law center. We already have a solid core of corporate and commercial law offerings. But we also part of a university that has recently reorganized its School of Business and has a strong, growing MBA program with classes in the western suburbs. The BLI will also take advantage of inter-connections with our existing institutes and offer unique business offerings related to dispute resolution and health care. There will be a lot of opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration in academic programming, and for professional networking that is useful in pursuit of employment.
A critical first step, of course, was finding leadership for the new institute. We are thrilled that Professor Ann Graham from Texas Tech University will leave Lubbock to join the Hamline law faculty full-time as the BLI director. Professor Graham is a nationally-recognized banking law expert who brings to Hamline both extensive teaching and practice experience. For almost thirty years, she represented banks and their regulators, including service with the FDIC and the Texas Bankers Association. That experience has shaped her scholarship, which focuses on the expansion of federal and state regulation of financial institutions. Her arrival at Hamline could not be more timely, given the increased federal scrutiny and regulation of the financial services industry.
Even before her arrival this coming January, Professor Graham has visited the Hamline law campus to discuss her plans for expanding the law school’s business curriculum and developing a set of “concentrations” with recommended course progressions. She has also met with alumni to cultivate relationships with the local business community.
As we approach the new year and Professor Graham’s arrival, we’ll have more news about inaugural events and programming for the BLI. So stay tuned.
See ya’ next time.