In fall 2018, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business and College of Law collaborated to offer the business and law undergraduate minor.
Open to business and non-business majors, College of Law professors, including former UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman, teach courses for the 12-credit business and law minor. Two courses are offered per semester, according to the program’s website. The minor is restricted to students with junior standing and a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher and does not include the College of Business’s required law courses in the intermediate business core curriculum.
According to associate dean of undergraduate curriculum and programs Donna Dudney, the minor was created when the College of Law approached the College of Business with the opportunity. The College of Business was interested in the program to help give students an edge in the job market, she said.
“We’re seeing a lot of positions where they’re not necessarily looking for someone who is a lawyer, but for people coming into businesses with enough knowledge of the law,” Dudney said.
According to Dudney, the business and law minor can help prepare students for the regulatory side of business, such as compliance with public accounting regulations, human resource law and regulation on security exchanges.
“If you want to get into the C-suite, if you want to get high up, if you want to make strategic decisions, you have to know the legal implications,” she said. “You don’t have to be a lawyer, but it really helps if you have that knowledge of the law.”
The College of Law benefits from the new minor because it allows law professors to teach undergraduate business students who may become law students, Dudney said. Additionally, she said the minor provides an opportunity for pre-law students to gain undergraduate exposure to law courses.
Both colleges also found that many law school graduates place into jobs that prefer juris doctor degrees, or “JD preferred jobs,” rather than require juris doctor degrees, according to Dudney. She said as businesses move from positions that require JD degrees, they want candidates with legal knowledge.
“What they’re finding is that the market has really cooled off for JD, for law, but JD preferred has just exploded,” she said.
Additionally, Dudney said the College of Law wanted the minor to be open to all students, regardless of college. She said many pre-law students are outside the business college and might study political science, history or economics through the College of Arts and Sciences.
The College of Law set the GPA and year requirements, according to Dudney, because it wanted a variety of students while still maintaining the academic rigor associated with law school.
In the fall semester of 2018, the colleges lacked time to advertise the program. But after advertising the courses, 26 students enrolled in BSAD 376 and 42 students enrolled in BLAW 375, which had 11 students and 17 students, respectively, according to Dudney.
Additionally, she said the business and law courses’ non-business student portions are starting to grow, with some courses being equally split between business and non-business students.
Dudney said student evaluations have been positive. She said no one within the minor has graduated yet.
“Most of [the law professors], this is their first time they’ve taught undergraduate students and are really invested in making this a quality experience and pitching it right,” she said.
Junior accounting major Mason Ellis said he declared the minor last spring and is currently taking two of the four courses.
“It gives you a better understanding of the world in general, especially the political sphere,” he said. “We talk a lot about current events. I’m pretty early in the class, but I feel I’m understanding certain events in the political climate better and that I’m definitely going to learn even more.”
Ellis said he is thinking about attending law school at UNL after graduation, but is still open to other career paths. He said the courses are taught similarly to how courses would be taught at law school, where students aren’t memorizing laws but learning a legal way of thinking.
“It’s really interesting because it’s getting that fundamental idea of law,” he said. “Law school, as a sophomore, seems like a distant thing, it doesn’t seem foreseeable, and this legitimizes it. It gets you some experience now with law.”