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The Duke University Law Entrepreneur LLM Program- Merging Business and Law

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 Damien:  Good afternoon, and welcome to GAL Radio.  My name is Damien Allen, and today joining me on the phone is Professor James Cox, the Director of the Law and Entrepreneurship LLM Program at Duke University School of Law.  Good afternoon and welcome to the program, James.

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James Cox:  Glad to be here.

Damien:  You’re starting a new program there at Duke University.  Why don’t you tell us a little bit about it.

2-10-2010 3-28-17 PM James Cox:   Well, I’ve been kicking around the idea for a couple of years, as we’ve taken on faculty members who came out of the sort of startup environment and had a lot of experience there, about the desirability of trying to familiarize law trained individuals with the various forces that come together in a guide behavior with respect to startup enterprises and entrepreneurship generally.  The more we talked about it, the more we realized these were unexplored areas, both in teaching and scholarship.  We’re a research and teaching institution.  We’re located about a 15 minute drive from a major electronic and biotechnology area, Research Triangle Park.  A lot of activity here.  We have programs focused on entrepreneurship in our Business School and our Engineering School and also our own School of Government, and the Law School thought it’d be best to start a program that would pull in all these various aspects, Research Triangle Park, the Engineering School, the Business School programs, and integrate them into a full-fledged program focused on entrepreneurship and the law.

Damien:  Now the LLM Program is a Master’s Program, so you’ve already received your law degree at this point.  You’re going back in to do this program?

James Cox:  Yes, that’s correct.  The Program that we’ve approved is a post-graduate degree program.  We’re expecting individuals who would like to retool, gain more information, graduating from law school and think that this is a step in the right direction for them and are willing to add another year of education to their belt to better able to function, either as counselors, business people, advisors, or as entrepreneurs themselves.  It truly is a multi-faceted process, and the faculty members we have engaged in this, other than myself, are individuals who have functioned on the ground as entrepreneurs, not solely as counselors entrepreneurs.

Damien:  This is a decided shift in the legal program where Socratic Law and the doctrines within, now you’re dealing it more towards a business.  Is business driving this shift?

James Cox:   I believe so.  I think what we are seeing and what we’ve intended to do with this program is to make it a program that’s totally, or mostly, experiential.  That is, that there’s a hands on component, live on the ground component, which is part of the curriculum, as well as classroom, but a lot of the classroom activities are more of what you would expect to find in a first year, first rate business school program.  Then the legal components are areas that look at this from a strong public policy, but also a tax component to it. 

Damien:  What are some of the points of the curriculum for this course?

James Cox:   The curriculum’s got several points.  First point, it’s going to be a substantial business point, which would be both familiarity with accounting, finance, but also a heavy orientation towards strategic planning.  A lot of those are bread and butter courses and are subjects you would see in a first year MBA program.  We’re going to essentially be able, and the curriculum we are teaching to get individuals ready to pass the first level of the Certified Financial Analyst portion of the exam.  It’s a fairly intensive involvement in accounting, finance and a strategy course as well.  Another component of the course would be looking at the political social economic forces that shape entrepreneurial activity.  Some of these are reflected in laws, and some of them are also reflected in just mores and how people choose to organize their affairs so individuals are better able to understand that entrepreneurial activity that we find in the United States is different than what you would see in India, than what you definitely would see in China.  We are truly global in nature and want to familiarize people with the various ways in which entrepreneurship is developed.  I mentioned before that there would be a heavy component of business law.  That would be classes that look at securities regulation, taxation and the law of limited liability companies.  Again how one organizes themselves so as to raise capital and be able to retain control as you go through the various stages of venture financing.

Damien:  What type of credit hours are we looking at for this program?

James Cox:   The total credit hours for the program, it’s a one year program, is 23 credit hours.  Of those credit hours, I believe, we are planning presently for four or five of those will be an on-the-ground placement/internship bedded in some fine entrepreneurial activity that’s located in our backyard in the Research Triangle Park.  There will be a placement involved with it as well.

Damien:  As this is a fairly new idea in the teaching of law and the aspects that you can change into in furthering your post-graduate degrees, do you see as this as a coming trend?  Is Duke going to be the forefront of many other law schools adding this type of program/curriculum to what they’re doing?

James Cox:   I do, and I think whether it comes up as a post-graduate or it’s actually part of an on-going trend we see in legal education where more and more the curriculum is being developed that a wide spectrum of law schools, I think this one is being developed in particularly the third year of law school, is more exponential, and I would think that the curriculum that we’re developing here is totally exponential, hands-on, and I think it would be consistent with what you would see occurring in other schools, perhaps as part of their basic JD program.  It’s entirely possible that, as we get down the road in Duke’s own program, that this program may well morph into a kind of a joint degree program, a JD/LLM all within the three year time horizon which will enable people, as part of their normal JD program, to have an emphasis or focus on entrepreneurial activity.

Damien:  If someone is looking for more information on the program and how to get involved in it, where would they go?

James Cox:   They should go to the Law School’s website, it’s  That will get you all kinds of information, including information about this program.

Damien:  Any closing thoughts before we leave?

James Cox:   I think this is an exciting development.  I think that this is, just as we’re told, we’re shifting from the production economy to the idea economy.  Degree programs like this are part and parcel to what we see happening nationwide.  It’s pretty exciting for us at Duke to be a participant in that process.

Damien:  We thank you very much for joining us today and discussing the Duke University’s School of Law’s Law and Entrepreneurship LLM Program.  We’ve been speaking with Professor James Cox.  Thank you very much for joining us, Jim.

James Cox:  Have a good day.

Damien:  You’ve been listening to GAL Radio. My name is Damien Allen.  Have a great afternoon.

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