Jan 19, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

All businesses exist within a complex legal framework. Accordingly, employees with legal knowledge and skills have a valuable edge in a wide range of industries. Are you wondering how an understanding of legal concepts can help you succeed in your career? Read on to learn more about the many applications of law studies, along with how some law schools have evolved to focus not just on training the world’s legal professionals, but also its future business leaders.

The Many Applications of Legal Knowledge

When we think of law degrees, lawyers come to mind first. However, many different professionals in a variety of areas can profit from legal knowledge in their daily work. Here are some examples:

●     Entrepreneurs

Starting a business involves much more than conceptualizing a great product or service. Are you going to set up as a sole trader or a limited company? Do you have a partner? Is it in your best commercial interests to have one? Would it be better to establish the business as a limited liability partnership? As an entrepreneur, you will benefit immensely from understanding the legal consequences of your decisions in the start-up phase. However, legal knowledge is not only essential when you first set up your company but at any stage in your company’s lifecycle, whether you are considering transforming your business into a publicly-held company or planning to expand your business across international borders.

●     Capital Market Analysts

Capital Market Analysts act as critical liaisons between companies and investors during the brokerage of deals. In order to provide their clients with comprehensive advice on potential benefits and risks, they need to have a solid understanding of both the financial and the legal consequences of the deals they propose and negotiate. Furthermore, all capital market transactions are overseen by regulatory bodies. This means that being able to navigate legal roadblocks is a fundamental requirement for a successful Capital Market Analyst.

●     Insolvency Administrators

An Insolvency Administrator’s responsibility is to assist a business when it finds itself in financial trouble. The main goal is to rescue the company, which obviously requires a far-reaching understanding of business management. If rescue is not possible, however, the administrator’s duty is to do right by the insolvent company’s creditors, both financially and legally. An insolvency administrator therefore also needs to have a detailed understanding of the rights of the creditors, the obligations of the debtor, and the rules regulating the process around insolvency proceedings.

●     Risk Management Analysts

Risk Management Analysts typically work for insurance companies and are tasked with researching and calculating the risk of offering a policy to a new customer. But crunching the numbers to calculate a realistic premium is not enough. Including an inadmissible risk factor in the analysis, for example, may void a contract once a claim is filed and the policy is scrutinized in court. A Risk Management Analyst therefore also needs to have a thorough understanding of contract law as well as governmental policies governing insurance, in order to make sure that the proposed policy is legally sound.

●     Department Heads

Legal knowledge can benefit anyone in a management position in virtually any branch of industry. The higher you get in the hierarchy of a company or organization, the more relevant fundamental legal knowledge becomes as the individual risks increase. On the C-suite, you may be held personally responsible for the decisions you make in the name of the company. So you better be aware of both the financial and the legal consequences of your decisions.

And these are just a few examples. From purchasing, where understanding the legal repercussions involved in contract negotiations is paramount, to the booming international trade industry comprising issues like importing and exporting, contracts, joint ventures, and overseas investments, the need for legal experts outside the legal sector continues to skyrocket.

The overarching takeaway? From Brexit to Blockchain to cross-border transactions, the business landscape is in rapid flux. Future-ready business people with legal knowledge will not only be prepared to withstand what’s ahead, but to successfully lead their organizations through the changes.

Enter a new breed of law schools and programs.

Modern Law Schools Respond with an Interdisciplinary Approach

The interconnectedness of law and business manifests itself in the policies of forward-thinking institutions, which are placing increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to law, often through innovative joint ventures with business schools. The aim? To imbue future business leaders with in-depth knowledge of the law and how it applies to business and business interactions.

Says Professor Dirk Holtbrügge, Program Director for Business at the Master of Law and Business at Bucerius Law School, “It is often said that we live in an interconnected world. This requires managers to think and act across boundaries and across borders. Business professionals will need to collaborate more and more with people from other disciplines, notably engineers and lawyers.”

1)	Professor Dr. Dirk Holtbrügge, International Management expert and proponent of interdisciplinary teaching. (Photo: FAU)
Professor Dr. Dirk Holtbrügge, International Management expert and proponent of interdisciplinary teaching. (Photo: FAU)

Holtbrügge elaborates on how law schools like Bucerius are, therefore, evolving to acknowledge why an interdisciplinary approach matters, “Interdisciplinary means that every subject is discussed from both a legal and a business perspective. You learn that these two perspectives sometimes collide (e.g., legally possible vs. economically feasible) and how you can find innovative solutions that integrate both perspectives. As a business person, you will be respected by lawyers, and vice versa.”

And while business and law studies do have a tradition of overlapping, today’s programs require even more, insists Holtbrügge. “The idea is not only to learn the laws that are specifically relevant for a particular business function, but to understand the distinct logic of the two disciplines,” he explains. “In meetings and negotiations, numbers and paragraphs often collide. Managers who are familiar with both worlds can cross this boundary and utilize the opportunities of our interconnected world.”

Are you interested in learning how an interdisciplinary program which combines law and business works? Check out the Bucerius Master of Law and Business, a Master program for business as well as law graduates, offered by Germany’s leading law school.

 

All media provided courtesy of Bucerius Law School

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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