Financial Times Highlights L&E 2.0 Initiative

Law and business: A marriage of convenience
Adam Palin
Financial Times
November 25, 2011

As businesses have become ever more inter­national in focus and reach, the law firms and lawyers who work for them have adopted a more global approach to ­ensure they are equipped to cope with complex cross-border deals and provide advice across jurisdictions.

That is feeding through to the ­institutions that train the lawyers of the future: law schools are placing increasing emphasis on commercial law and business knowledge, often through innovative joint ventures with business schools.

Of the law schools participating in this year’s FT Innovative Law Schools’ listing of Master of Laws (LLM) programmes, about 40 per cent co-operate with a business school to deliver jointly taught courses.

In the US, the University of Chicago has ­pioneered the application of economics to the study and practice of law. Last month its law school launched its “Law and Economics 2.0 Initiative”. At the heart of the initiative is the Institute for Law and Economics, which brings ­together 34 faculty members with the aim of ­being a catalyst for strengthened inter­disciplinary research between the law school, the department of economics and the university’s Booth School of Business. Among the five economists participating in the institute, two – Gary Becker and Ronald Cause – are Nobel Prize winners.

Michael Schill, dean of University of ­Chicago Law School, says that through training ­international students the school seeks to ­export insights of law and economics developed in ­Chicago to other countries’ legal systems. This is not grounded in ideology, he says, but necessity. Noting that ill-conceived regulation and insufficient oversight were fundamental to the financial crisis, he says: “At a time when the insights of economics are more important than ever, it is irresponsible to establish law without understanding economic costs.”

Michael H. Schill