Teaching lawyers how to start a startup!

October 30, 2019
4 min.
By:
Morgan Salmon

As a Mexican lawyer starting on my master's in law at the University of Copenhagen about a year ago, coming from a non-EU country trying to understand a continental system has been an exciting challenge. It’s always complicated for a National lawyer to be able to practice in another country, and I always thought that internationalisation was a fantastic challenge but maybe not applicable to my career. That is why I decided to go back to school. However, the most significant challenge has not been the shift in National systems but to experience how law application is revolutionised by technology. Therefore, my current studies are crucial to give myself the tools to understand how I can market myself in the coming years and what new abilities I needed to continue to be relevant in a reality that is changing day by day.

It is exciting how the faculty of law is reconciling the past and the present. Working with students to make them technologically capable, however, not forgetting that the study of the science of the law is an imperative that should not change. Under that premise, KU has chosen to implement two critical things.

1. Differently too most law schools, students can choose their subjects. Students are empowered to choose their area of specialisation, and they are not obliged to study subjects in areas of law they will not be practising.
2. Most faculties do not modify their curriculum every year. At the University of Copenhagen, researchers are permitted to create courses adapted to the fields of law they are researching. I found those two situations incredibly motivating and a fundamental change in the way the culture of what is a law school and what are the abilities to be developed from a student.

However, one course has been especially inspiring for me to follow.

How to Start a Startup

As a lawyer that wanted to be involved in technology, I found one of the most exciting courses offered by the University to be How to Start a Startup. The course is a fresh and practical approach to corporate law working on creating the soft skills that the lawyers of the future need. It was developed two years ago by Dr Alexandra Andhov to teach corporate law differently. The main objective of the course is to help prepare future lawyers: To the challenges of what a Startup needs.

As described in the course description: “Future lawyers must become proactive problem-solvers with broad knowledge and skillsets entrepreneurial, innovative and adaptive to changing circumstances and needs of their clients". In order to meet that challenge, the course shapes the students into active problem solvers by exposing them to real-life cases.

There is a theoretical method which is divided into five modules; Corporate & Financial Law, Employment Law, Tax Law, IP & IT Law, and Procurement Law- Subsidies. During those modules, the student is exposed to all the doctrines of how the laws apply to challenges for a new business. From a practical perspective, students are paired with Startups. They are presented with different situations that develop from the day to day the enterprises are living. This is where law students are trained to develop soft skills such as: “Analytical ability, attention to detail, logical reasoning, persuasiveness, sound judgment and their writing abilities.
It is essential to mention that the class is outside of the box solution to legal education. It is allowing students to understand the difference between theory and practical legal application.

In this way, the course “seeks to train the next generation of entrepreneurial lawyers who will work and shape this emerging field, bridging the gap between existing legal education and the needs of the market." The legal academics have accepted that the old way of teaching law is no longer sustainable. Lawyers are not leaving law school with the abilities they need to succeed in the legal job market.  

Customisation of legal work is a reality. Lawyers of today are paid and sought for their advice their ability to detect possible problems but mostly because they also offer solutions. The time in which a compliance department in a company was only in charge of saying No is finished.

That is why courses like the one thought at the University of Copenhagen are so fundamental in shaping the lawyers of the future. When a student is exposed to the theory and presented with a problem he needs to solve, it helps him develop the skills that are today expected from a lawyer once. It is courses like this one that is helping change the paradigm of what a lawyer is supposed to offer their clients by giving this new and fresh approach to the teaching of law.

I feel fortunate to be a student in a different country to where I first thought I was going to practice. The reality is the way law practice is being influenced by technology; it is a field living a significant evolution. Lawyers needs to optimise their work and be able to offer clients the best customized solutions they can think of. That is why it is very interesting to be a part of a faculty that is working hard in being part of that change and in giving students the opportunity to develop the abilities that will continue to be relevant in tomorrow's law world.

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