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Business Modules: At the Intersection of Law and Business

Students work with practitioner during Business Modules

In addition to acquiring the knowledge necessary to become successful attorneys, students at Villanova Law also receive the critical business skills that are necessary to thrive in today’s intense and dynamic climate.  

The John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship has developed two unique and innovative Business Modules, week-long one-credit courses required for all first and second-year students. Held in January each year, the Modules introduce students to key concepts, including financial statements, valuation and the economics of law firms, that are fundamental to success in the legal profession but traditionally are not taught in law schools.  The goal of the Modules is for students to gain proficiency in areas that will be critical to their practice as attorneys.

“It’s so important that all law students learn the business side of the legal industry,” said Andrew Lund, Director of the John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship. “No matter where students end up practicing law—law firms, in-house counsel, government, or nonprofits--they will need to understand how legal services are funded and how the legal profession operates as a business.”

The 1L Module, Joseph Del Raso Business and Financial Literacy for Lawyers, introduces first-year students to critical business, finance and accounting concepts, such as financial statements and valuation principles. Under the direction of Professor Mary Ann Robinson, students work in small groups and put newly learned business and financial concepts into practice. They are challenged to work together, under the guidance of volunteer practitioners, through real-life legal scenarios—such as the negotiation of the sale and purchase of a business. By the end of the week, students can identify and understand the business and financial issues that can impact the work they are doing on behalf of clients.

"The Business Modules opened my eyes to the various non-traditional paths in the business realm that are available as career options after law school,” said Janel Anyalebechi ’20. “After participating in the Business Modules, I now have a clearer idea about the things I may enjoy doing in my career, such as negotiating deals or solving different financial legal issues that may come up in the course of business."

Business Aspects of Law is the 2L Module, run by Professor Lund. Already armed with the basic finance and accounting concepts introduced to them during their 1L year, students take a deeper dive into the structure, personnel and economics of legal practice. The course was designed in consultation with law firm and in-house leaders and tailored to what graduates need to know to succeed in their respective organizations. Practitioners from various settings – from global firms to small boutiques, from giant corporations to family businesses, from non-profits to government – show the students how different legal organizations run their business. Putting this knowledge into practice, students are broken into small teams and tasked with a simulation that requires them to run the general counsel’s office at a multinational corporation.

“We have an incredible base of alumni in the area who are engaged with Villanova Law and come back year after year to volunteer their time to coach and advise students during the Business Modules,” said Professor Robinson. “It is invaluable for our students to make these alumni connections and to learn how these attorneys use business and financial concepts in their everyday work.”