Courtesy Bmore Media – Law professor Daniel S. Goldberg takes a moment to chat in his faculty conference room before he begins his scheduled classes at the University of Maryland. He outstretches his hand, carrying a ceramic coffee mug bearing the logo East Coast Coffee Co.
It’s not the name of his favorite coffee shop. East Coast Coffee Co. doesn’t’t even exist. Goldberg’s students invented it for his course on business planning at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Limited to 25 law students at the downtown Baltimore campus, there is always a waiting list to get in.
Goldberg makes the course as real-life as you can get in a classroom. Students develop a company — in this case, a coffee shop empire reminiscent of Starbucks, down to official namesake mugs. They take it from startup to the business world’s version of a happy ending — a successful initial public offering.
If this sounds more like an MBA program rather than a law school curriculum, then the University of Maryland faculty members have achieved their goal. The law school revamped its business law program and courses like Goldberg’s, which take a fresh approach to the topic, are the result.
The impetus for change came from the students themselves. The school had a business law program, but the feeling was it no longer met the needs of the students or the law firms and businesses to which they would apply for jobs after graduation. The University of Baltimore School of Law is taking the same route in making sure its courses are relevant. Dwindling admission applications and a job market that tanked with the 2008 recession have led to a highly competitive environment for law schools around the country.
That means law schools need to set themselves apart and teach skills that will help graduates make money and find jobs—even if it isn’t the traditional career path as the partner of a corporate law firm. Christine Hein says she enrolled in University of Maryland’s law school because she wants to practice in the food industry, whether for a manufacturer, restaurant, international company or regulatory agency like the U.S.. Food and Drug Administration.
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