Why Should Business Students Study Law?
Most MBA programs offer a broad overview of the business world, and students might assume that they're learning everything they need to enter business practice. Students know that there's a lot more to business than buying and selling, but savvy business professionals also need a thorough understanding of the law. While there are many programs that allow students to specialize in business law, most of these programs target law students hoping to represent businesses or work in corporate legal departments. The Bucerius Master of Law and Business is different. As traditional business degrees often overlook the increasingly complex intersection of law and business, the Bucerius program, designed for both businesspeople and lawyers, offers comprehensive legal and business instruction. Bucerius students address the interaction of law and business through an analysis of the life cycles of enterprises from both corporate and legal perspectives.
Why study law?
Law is a fundamental part of business and business has always been intertwined with the law and legal regulations, but these are becoming more complex. As a result, business students often enter the corporate world without a comprehensive understanding of the law or the role of legal professionals in the creation and operation of a business. Professor Clifford Larsen, Dean of the Bucerius Master of Law and Business, saw the need to bring legal and corporate professionals together because modern business ventures require both knowledge of the law and cooperation with lawyers. Professor Larsen stresses that "nowadays, lawyers are involved from day one in the creation of a company" and business people and lawyers need to understand each other.
Business students who study the interaction of law and business can anticipate the legal needs of their companies and comprehend how laws and regulations can impact businesses in both positive and negative ways. Andreas E. Meier, a banker who teaches Capital Markets in the Bucerius program, explains that in many areas of business, laws and regulations are becoming much stricter than in the past and that individuals working in such areas "need to know how to integrate [laws and regulations] into [their] process." Professor Natalia Ribberink, who teaches International Strategic Management and Trade & Investment, warns that students "need to be aware that [they] can end up out of business if [they] don't meet legal regulations and the right norms!"
While students in the Bucerius program learn how to use and work within legal boundaries to build their businesses generally the Program also helps them develop their communication skills specifically. Most business students understand how important it is to communicate clearly with clients and other corporations, but legal studies give business students the knowledge they need to interact clearly and productively with legal professionals. In the Bucerius program, students with law and business backgrounds learn and work side-by-side, which allows them to develop these communications skills organically. Professor Larsen's work in an international law firm showed him that it was "a good idea to bring lawyers and corporate people together because they absolutely needed to be able to work together, in practical ways." As a result, many aspects of the Bucerius program, such as the Master’s thesis and internships, focus on helping students improve their communications abilities. These abilities are important, of course, not only for communication between lawyers and businesspeople, but also for businesspeople in all aspects of their work.
What type of law?
One of the reasons it is so important for business students to learn and understand the law is that there are many types of laws that impact the various business sectors in many different ways. Professor Larsen, who has published a number of articles on arbitration and comparative law, wants students to understand that "there is not one field of law that is more important than another for business people." Instead, students need to be able to identify the areas of the law that apply to their specific business or sector. For that reason, the Bucerius Master’s program includes electives that allow students to focus on their area of interest.
Students may think that the main legal problems they'll face in the corporate world will have to do with market or financial issues, but in reality, many businesses will face legal and regulatory challenges throughout their life-cycles. For example, most corporate professionals will, at some point in their careers, encounter issues that pertain to trademark and patent laws; transnational corporations or those involved in international trade may need to be aware of and adhere to several different tax laws. As Professor Ribberink and Mr. Meier point out, new agreements and regulations such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or "increasing levels of consumer protection in the financial system" are making interactions between businesses and the law more complex than ever before. Students who understand he law will "have a competitive advantage" in the corporate world.
What to Learn?
Business students may feel unprepared to tackle legal subjects because the law can seem difficult to understand. The Bucerius program offers a comprehensive overview and practical experience that can help future business leaders feel confident in their understanding of the laws that apply to their sectors.
Legal studies can guide business professionals in ethics and laws, and as Professor Ribberink explains, "each business transaction, whether on a national or international level, faces some kind of a legal contact. To make decisions...you have to face legal and ethical issues. If you want to be successful, you need to know about the law."
These studies will also help students identify and understand international business opportunities and transactions. According to Mr. Meier, who serves as the Regional
Head of UBS Wealth Management for Northern Germany and Latin America, "younger business students care more about...the basic rules of a deal, a contract. They also live more globally. They understand that a contract is not national, it usually gathers counterparties from three or four different countries. [Students]need to understand the legal implications of that. [They] live it but also need to understand it."
The business world is changing rapidly, and successful business professionals know how to adapt, learn, and solve problems. The reality of the corporate world is that some businesses have shorter life spans than others. Students in the Bucerius Master’s program study the life cycles of businesses, so they learn how to succeed including learning from their mistakes. Their knowledge of the inner workings of businesses, the complexities of the law, and the intersection of the two gives them the ability and confidence to enter into the fast-paced and ever-changing world of business.
Read more about studying in theBucerius Master of Law and Business.