“Are your students using anything that you taught them?” This not-so-innocent question from a reporter for the Recorder set me wondering. I had no good answer for her. I had heard from time to time from a few students asking for references, and I occasionally saw a student from the year before in the halls, but I really didn’t have a clue whether the 16 weeks we had spent together had any real impact on their professional lives.
After a successful career as a business lawyer and a commercial arbitrator, I decided to give back to the profession by bringing my experience and wisdom to the classroom to prepare the next generation of lawyers for the business challenges they would face as they entered practice. I began my career as an adjunct professor eight years ago, co-teaching a course on business planning at Golden Gate University School of Law with a tenured professor who was an arbitrator colleague. While the students, particularly the night students, were bright and interested, there was a very low likelihood that they would begin practice in one of the large firms in town; those firms tended to look to UC-Berkeley, Stanford, Hastings, Harvard and other so-called tier one schools for their associates. What these students could use was a course that taught them about going solo or forming a small partnership with friends. Even if they did join a firm, their knowledge of the business aspects of practice would give them a leg up.