Students Get Networking Opportunities with Practitioners
OXFORD, Miss.—The Business Law Institute’s (BLI) mission is to train great business lawyers. And the model they have in place is the perfect design for just that.
Housed in the first floor of the law school, the new institute takes a holistic approach to educating its students in business law, combining both course work and experiential learning.
One visible way they’re doing this is through the Institute’s physical space, which houses the Institute’s directors Mercer Bullard and John Czarnetzky, both professors at the law school.
“The Business Law Institute gives students the opportunity to work with Professor Bullard and Czarnetzky on a daily basis,” said Richard Gershon, UM Law dean.
“These professors are outstanding teachers, and recognized leaders in business law. The faculty members are truly enjoying working closely with the students.”
Bullard, an expert in the corporate securities field, has testified before Congress on more than 20 occasions and regularly provides insight for some of the nation’s top media outlets.
Czarnetzky is a veteran of the law school, commonly referred to as the school’s “senior most business law expert” and is a nationally recognized expert in bankruptcy law.
Both provide significant oversight and mentoring to students who participate in the Institute through the Negotiation Board, Business Law Network and Tax Clinic, the student arms of the Institute. These offer negotiation competitions, professional outreach and real-world practice opportunities.
“BLI students are immersed in an environment that fosters formal and informal discussions about cutting edge business law issues,” Gershon said. “They are exposed to leading experts and professionals in the field on a regular basis. This will have a positive impact on their learning and their career opportunities.”
The Network keeps students engaged in business law issues through Flash Classes, where business law practitioners share their expertise, and through a new online business law publication with articles co-written by attorneys.
“The melding of students and faculty in one office suite has already yielded the Business Law Reporter, a new student run publication,” said Gershon.
Two students who have been involved in getting the Network off the ground are Nader Jarun, 3L, and Cory Ferraez, 3L. The two were responsible for starting the Reporter.
“Professor Bullard put the idea in our head and we just ran with it,” said Jarun.
“Students do the bulk of the work,” Ferraez said. “But they find the attorney to fine tune the written piece. They can work with attorneys wherever they’d like to practice.”
The Network also holds an annual symposium and student led projects with firms and companies.
“We have transitioned the Business Law Society to the Business Law Network, and it has been much more about creating networking opportunities for students with practicing attorneys in their specific areas of interest,” Jarun said.
In addition to experiential learning the Institute offers, students can also obtain a new Business Law certificate by completing a core set of business law classes. Classes focus on accounting, finance and insurance.
The holistic approach also ensures students learn skills necessary to become competent lawyers.
“Too often, speaking, interviewing, negotiating and writing opportunities are overwhelmed by the legal content,” Bullard said. “The Institute is highlighting each as a separate skill to be developed through exercises focused on mastering the art of effective communication.”
The Institute is also attracting support and attention from alumni. Honorable David W. Houston, III and the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference made a joint donation to the Institute in the name of David W. Houston III.
In addition, the Business Law Section of The Mississippi Bar made a donation to the Negotiation Board to help with participation in two competitions: the national Entertainment Law Competition in Los Angeles, and the regional meet of the Fourth Annual Transactional LawMeet in Kansas City, Mo.