The Business Law program at the University of Mississippi School of Law was featured recently in preLaw Magazine as one of the country’s top programs. In an article entitled “Top schools for business and corporate law,” UM was one of only four schools to earn a perfect score of A+ in the area of business law.
“We appreciate the recognition of our extraordinary program, which provides a broad range of practical learning opportunities and unprecedented student-faculty interaction,” said Mercer Bullard, professor of law and director of the Business Law Institute. “With four wins this year, our Negotiation Board is cementing its position as one of the nation’s best, and our student-taught CLE program is unique among U.S. law schools.”
At the heart of the law school’s stellar business law program is the Business Law Institute. The institute offers interested students a chance to obtain a concentration in business law during their legal education careers.
After completing all requirements, students can graduate with the concentration to give them an edge in the increasingly competitive marketplace.
Also housed in the Business Law Institute is the Negotiation Board, an advocacy board that focuses on developing essential lawyering skills in a simulated environment. The Negotiation Board was formed to compete in negotiation but has since expanded to include arbitration and mediation. Members of the board compete in competitions all over the country.
“The competitions typically consist of each team strategizing and analyzing their client’s interest in order to reach an agreement to build a new business relationship or mend an existing relationship in conflict,” said Rachel Smith, a third-year law student from Grenada and chair of the Negotiation Board. “Members are challenged to draft contracts, proposals and exhibits to aid judges in understanding their respective client’s position in seeking a resolution.”
The Negotiation Board is composed of 20 members who are chosen through internal competitions. The board has won numerous awards, including four national championships this year.
Another standout component of the Business Law Institute is the Business Law Network, a student organization with the primary mission to connect members with practitioners in the field of business law. With more than 50 members, the Business Law Network is one of the school’s most active organizations.
“The Business Law Network is one of the premier student organizations at the University of Mississippi School of Law and provides an excellent platform for network members to meet with attorneys, businessmen and political leaders,” said Hattiesburg native Gregory Alston, a third-year law student and CEO of the Business Law Network.
The organization brings in successful individuals in the business law arena for monthly flash classes. Members not only get a chance to hear these success stories, but they also have opportunities to network following the presentations.
Students also can present to practicing attorneys during the network’s CLE conferences. CLE conferences are held each year in Oxford, Memphis and Jackson, and network members present their written pieces in relevant areas from the Business Law Newsletter at the sessions.
“The Business Law Network provides a unique and rare opportunity among law schools across the country for students to offer CLE credit to practicing attorneys through student presentation,” Alston said.
Rounding out the opportunities students have in the business law program is the Transactional Clinic. Students in the Transactional Clinic get real-world experience by assisting low-income entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations to foster economic development, increase access to capital and promote job growth in the state.
Duties of the students include entity formation, contract negotiation, commercial leasing and other legal matters.
“Students learn that the legal world goes far beyond the world of lawsuits and litigation,” said Marie Cope, clinical assistant professor of law. “Lawyers play an important role in advising clients about business development and navigating the complex world of compliance with state and federal regulations.
“The Transactional Clinic brings nonprofit corporations into existence and gives our students experience in contract drafting and anticipating the pitfalls that may lie ahead for their clients.”
For more information on the Business Law Institute, visit https://law.olemiss.edu/organizer/business-law-institute/.