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Mercer E. Bullard

Over the last fifteen years, Professor Bullard has established himself as one of the most prolific and influential academics in the corporate/securities field.  At a time when prospective law school students may be questioning the value of a legal education, the opportunity to learn with teachers like Professor Bullard at Ole Miss puts their concerns to rest.

Professor Bullard, the Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada Lecturer and Professor of Law, and 2014 Professor of the Year, teaches courses on securities, banking, corporations, corporate finance, accounting, and capital structure and valuation.  He created and is the director of the law school’s Business Law Institute.  He is also the Founder and President of Fund Democracy, an advocacy group for mutual fund shareholders.  He has served on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Advisory Committee and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s Investor Advisory Group.  Twice named by Investment News as one of the most powerful voices in the financial services industry, Professor Bullard has testified on more than 20 occasions before Congress, appeared on NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, CNBC, and other national broadcasts, and been featured in Business Week, Money Magazine and other publications.  He is frequently quoted in major newspapers and financial publications on finance- and securities-related regulatory matters.

Professor Bullard has written in a wide variety of venues.  His first academic article, which discussed the mutual fund scandal of 2003 and the communal nature of pooled investment vehicles, was selected for presentation by the Yale Stanford Junior Faculty Forum and as one of the year’s top corporate and securities law articles by the Corporate Practice Commentator.  His most recent article, Insider Trading in a Mannean Marketplace, will be reprinted in the Securities Law Review, a collection of the top securities law articles of 2016.  He has also published articles on hedge fund regulation, insider trading, loss causation in private securities litigation, 529 plans, and bank and money market fund insurance.   He has authored a book chapter on Chinese fund regulation and co-authored two empirical studies with economists on market timing and fund distribution.  In 22 appearances before 8 different Congressional committees, Professor Bullard has written hundreds of pages of testimony on SEC enforcement practices, investor protection, mutual fund regulation, 529 plans, pensions plans, installment contracts, and hedge funds. Professor Bullard has frequently written on regulatory issues for the financial press, publishing more than 50 articles since 2000 with Barrons, TheStreet.com, Morningstar, SmartMoney.com and other publications.  He wrote a newsletter for investment management lawyers from 2000 to 2001.

In his advocacy capacity, Professor Bullard has litigated standing issues against the SEC, successfully challenged an SEC exemptive order, and submitted amicus briefs in cases involving an SEC rulemaking on broker regulation, an SEC rulemaking on mutual fund governance, and a private lawsuit concerning the section 404 safe harbor under ERISA.  In addition to his Congressional testimony, he has authored or co-authored dozens of rulemaking petitions and comment letters on SEC and DOL rule proposals and regulatory oversight.  Professor Bullard has been invited to appear on panels by or address the SEC, ICI, FINRA, SIFMA, ASPPA, NASAA, Federal Reserve Bank and other organizations.  He has acted as an expert witness in major securities cases, including two that have been argued before the Supreme Court — Jones v. Harris, and Lawson v. FMR — and in the multi-district litigation addressing the mutual fund market timing scandal of 2003.

Professor Bullard has implemented a variety of innovative teaching methods.  He incorporates graphical presentations of concepts and transactions, timelines and other nonverbal tools as educational aids, and assigns in-class electronic quizzes to evaluate student progress on a real-time basis.  His classes include substantial experiential components, including document drafting exercises, blog post and newsletter writing assignments and videotaped negotiation exercises.  He has engaged his class in a real-time analysis of an SEC open meeting, conducted in-class on-line meetings with business experts, and led a field trip to meet with personnel at a regional investment bank.  Professor Bullard and a colleague developed the Business Regulation Externship at Ole Miss in which students spend a semester rotating among state offices responsible for regulating insurance, banking, securities and corporations.  A number of students have gained invaluable experience working directly with Professor Bullard on current public policy matters.

Professor Bullard created the Business Law Institute at the law school in 2014.  Its mission is to train great business lawyers. The Institute has leveraged the Law School’s most valuable asset – an expert faculty committed to teaching – by placing the faculty’s top business law experts in a shared office space with students. The close proximity of faculty and students facilitates continuous access and close student-faculty collaboration and engagement. This novel educational model maximizes the fluid transfer of knowledge and experience between teachers and students that animates deep, active learning.  In 2016, the law school’s business law program was recognized by National Jurist as one of the top four business law programs among U.S. law schools.

The Business Law Institute’s generous office and meeting space houses not only the Law School’s top business law experts, but also the organizations that form the backbone of the Law School’s student-run experiential programs in business law. The Negotiation Board runs negotiation competitions for students and has established an enviable track record in outside competitions, winning three national championships since 2014.  The Business Law Network hosts presentations by legal experts, publishes a student newsletter on recent developments in the law and, in a program unique among law schools, conducts accredited CLE presentations for practicing attorneys.  These organizations provide experiential learning, professional outreach, and real-world practice opportunities that develop students’ business law skills through hands-on activities and practice. They give students the confidence and experience they need to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The Business Law Certificate, which is awarded by the Law School for completing a core set of business law classes, corroborates a student’s strong commitment to this practice area.

The Institute’s physical space will also be the nerve center for a novel, two-pronged strategy to expand students’ skills beyond mere technical proficiency in a small number of business law subjects. Practicing business law at the highest level requires mastery of a highly diverse knowledge base and skill set. The Institute seeks to integrate these elements into a unified, holistic program that teaches students how to help clients manage their legal risk and define and achieve their strategic goals.

First, the Institute will supplement the core curriculum by offering short courses on business law topics. The Law School’s broad array of business law classes far exceeds the number of courses that a student could take during their law school career. The short courses will allow students to gain exposure to the full scope of business law subject areas they are likely to encounter in practice. A highlight of this program will be a short course that introduces students to the basics of accounting, finance and insurance.

Second, the Institute will further develop its multi-faceted training model by encompassing skills that are critical to success in all areas of law. Great lawyers are compelling speakers, meticulous interviewers, persuasive negotiators and lucid writers. They manage their legal practice efficiently while continuously developing their professional skills. Their purposeful relationship building and willingness to assume leadership roles places them at the vanguard of their profession. The Institute will sponsor presentations and offer training exercises that develop these essential competencies for the complete lawyer.

No other law school offers the Business Law Institute’s combination of full student-faculty engagement and a holistic approach to training lawyers. The Institute expects its new educational model to be come the industry standard for training great business lawyers.