“In recent years fewer business leaders have come from the ranks of lawyers. Our intention with the Doctoroff program is to go ‘back to the future’ and reestablish the JD as a compelling option for anyone who is bright, ambitious, and ready to become a leader in business.” — Dean Michael Schill
week the University of Chicago Law School, announced an innovative
business leadership program supported by a $ 5 million gift from Dan
Doctoroff, CEO of Bloomberg L.P. (a 1984 Law School alum), and his wife, Alisa (a 1983 grad of the Business School)..The Law School will establish the Doctoroff Business Leadership Program. The
Doctoroff program will combine law and business courses to prepare the next
generation of law graduates with the analytical skills to be leaders of
businesses or key advisers to business. The Doctoroff Program will offer all U
of Chicago law students a series of core business courses taught by professors
at the Booth School of Business. In addition, each year it will provide 15
students who demonstrate commitment to careers in business, with a
unique array of mentorship, internship, and enrichment opportunities not
normally found in law schools. The Doctoroff Program provides the platform for
the Law School’s first-ever certificate-granting program, combining a business
curriculum taught by many of the leading professors of Chicago’s acclaimed
Booth School of Business; mentorship from alumni business leaders; and summer
internships in business enterprises.
Adding Business Analysis to the Study of Law
Dan Doctoroff’s View
has held a variety of leadership positions in government (NYC Deputy
Mayor for Economic Development) and financial services (Oak Hill
Capital Partners and Lehman Brothers ) before becoming the CEO of the Bloomberg media empire. I think it is safe to assume that Doctoroff has interacted with many outside counsel in his career so law firm leaders should “listen up.” Doctoroff offers a rather compelling quote in the press release: “Time after time, I’ve seen the value of lawyers who have fundamental business and financial skills, no matter their field of specialty.” This is an important message for law firm leadership to absorb, the traditional benchmarks for recruiting should be reassessed. CEO’s want lawyers who understand businesses and industries as well as “the law.”.In a telephone interview Doctoroff described the program as offering law students the “best of both worlds” and filling an educational void which has hampered prior generations of law students. The Doctoroff Program will enable students to better understand the value of business data and analytics. He hopes that it will also give Chicago a competitive advantage in recruiting students who might otherwise opt for Harvard or Yale. One long term benefit he sees is growing a new generation of business leaders who will not only build businesses but also have resources to fund innovative philanthropic initiatives and also become law school donors themselves.
The Next Normal
Given the uncertainties of the legal market for law grads, a set of business skills combined with legal analysis offers a compelling recruiting profile for law firms which are also grappling to define the “Next Normal.” Law firms need to recruit a new generation of leaders with a new skillset. Will a judicial clerkship and and writing a law review article start to pale in comparison to a preparing a spreadsheet and a regression analysis?