Osgoode Hall Law School is looking to help its students bridge the gap between academics and professional life with a series of courses, starting off with business fundamentals.
The school is offering a free, one-week intensive course on business skills that relate to the study of law. The program will run in May and again in August of this academic year.
“We thought this kind of program works on both fronts — the students are more likely to succeed in their ongoing studies, it will give them an extra level of confidence, knowledge and perspective, and then they’re especially poised to succeed in their career path,” says Lorne Sossin, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School.
The business fundamentals professor, Beppino Pasquali, is designing and teaching the first of a half dozen intensive courses in the Learning and Leading Series.
“The reason that this course was developed is that they found that lawyers need a little bit of financial acumen, how to read financial statements and analyze statements, and make decisions with financial information,” says Pasquali.
Business fundamentals are essential in many areas of law, explains dean Sossin. For example, a lawyer who is representing a group of tenants suing a landlord must have an understanding of how that landlord owns property and how the properties are accounted for.
In another instance, for a family lawyer doing an equalization breakdown of a relationship, having knowledge of accounting principles is fundamental to how he or she would do the job well, says Sossin.
“If you’re involved in any number of corporate settings and transactional settings, accounting principles are fundamental to the work of the lawyer, but they are not taught anywhere in law school in a systematic way,” he says.
Pasquali says the course will teach future lawyers how to analyze statements, how to read an income statement, and a cash flow statement, and more importantly what information the statement offers and doesn’t offer. Different standards for accounting will be discussed, as well as basic accounting rules.
“There will be a lot of casework of using actual financial statements of companies,” he says.
The boot camp-like course will be presented to students all day for five days.
“We’re doing it to provide additional value for our students,” says dean Sossin.
Other areas of professional development law students can expect help with in the near future include technology, social innovation, leadership, and French language studies.
Dean Sossin hopes to have French language studies introduced in the 2016 academic year.
Studies in the area of business fundamentals will start off the series because feedback from alumni has been that grads had to pick up business knowledge elsewhere and would have preferred to have it upon completion of law school.
“It seems to be a growing trend of trying to link law with accounting and finance,” says Pasquali.
The school will try to keep classes to a maximum of 40 students per class.
There is no prerequisite to enter the class besides being an Osgoode law student of course.