Business at YLS
My professional objective is to own and run a business as a manager and entrepreneur. I’ve done no legal internships during my time at YLS, and I plan to never practice law. I think YLS is not only a worthwhile investment—it’s also an under-rated (and surprisingly good) place to learn about business.
1. Courses in the law school. As a 1L, I took Business Organizations, Accounting for Lawyers, Banking Law and Regulation, and Quantitative Corporate Finance. The corporate finance class was taught by the brilliant and quirky Ian Ayres, a Ph.D. economist fond of jogging with his students, and it may be the only law school course in the country taught entirely in Excel. I also had the enormous privilege of taking “Challenges of a General Counsel,” a seminar co-taught by the former GC of General Electric and the current GC of Ernst & Young. In a law school better known for theory and constitutional jurisprudence, these classes are hidden gems.
2. The three-year J.D./M.B.A. program. I believe Yale is the only school in the country that lets you either get a J.D. in three years, or lets you get a J.D. and an M.B.A. in…three years. With no summer classes. Three students did it last year; in my year nine students are doing it, and I predict the numbers will keep growing as YLS students realize the value of this opportunity. An M.B.A. instills skills that law school doesn’t even attempt to tackle: how to lead peers and subordinates, manage funds, organize teams. And Yale’s School of Management is on a fast upward trajectory: SOM poached Chicago Booth’s fantastically successful dean, is constructing a brand-new campus which will open in 2013, and has launched a strategy to become a top-five business school within ten years.
3. The Yale Law and Business Society. Think of this as the YLS affinity group for students interested in business, finance, and, of course, corporate law. We host dozens of events per year with CEOs, law firm partners, and private equity investors. Last year we hosted former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, and—separately—a convicted inside trader who spoke with us before starting his ten-year prison sentence. This year, as YLBS Entrepreneurship Co-Chair, I kicked off the YLS Entrepreneurs Series to enable students to learn from classmates who have started businesses. This week I’m hosting a talk with a 3L who’s so stylish she made a business out of it.
4. Broader Yale. Take an econ class with the legendary Robert Shiller. Debate politics, policy, or culture with Yale’s World Fellows. Get $20,000 in seed funding from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s incubator program. If you’re interested in international business, take language classes in Yale College—I’m currently taking Indonesian five days a week, and I previously took Chinese and Spanish.
In short, don’t let the appellate litigators throw you off track. Yale Law School is the pre-eminent place to learn legal theory, but it’s also a fantastic place to prepare for a career in business.