Mapping Relevance Of Law Courses In Executive Education Scenario

The in-house legal counsels in corporate organizations face even greater challenge of thinking through the prism of a business professional. The many hats that they have to do require them to have exposure to business management, finance and other core areas of business.

The importance of executive education has been increasingly felt and realized in the management education sector. Even highly professional courses including medical profession and chartered accountancy sector have a pertinent focus on continuing education and training for executives. This phenomenon is true but for the legal education sector in India. It is argued that the legal education sector could take major cues from the management education scenario to revamp the continuing education focus for litigating, transactional and in-house legal professionals. 

Need for Re-skilling and Training of Legal Professionals

The legal education sector is yet to catch up with the requirement for a robust executive education programme. This is all the more pertinent with the dynamic nature of corporate law and legal aspects of the business. The requirement for an effective understanding of the domains of project finance, capital market, and the private equity sector is quite important for any worthwhile general counsel as well as in-house legal managers. The imminent threat of anti-competitive trade practice issue under the competition law or the product liability issues which may arise out of the proposed consumer regulation in India are emerging areas that legal counsels need to be exposed to. Gone are the days when the transactional lawyers could be doing their jobs with just the expertise of contract and company law. It is all the more important and necessary even for litigating lawyers to be exposed to the nuances of the electricity regulation, telecom regulation as well as other regulatory and emerging litigation prone areas such as broadcast and media regulation. It goes without saying that opportunity for executive education offerings by legal and business schools aiming at legal professionals are immense in the current scenario. Sadly, the opportunity to provide executive education programmes for legal professionals are remaining untapped by national law schools as well as other institutes of eminence.

The in-house legal counsels in corporate organizations face even greater challenge of thinking through the prism of a business professional. The many hats that they have to do require them to have exposure to business management, finance and other core areas of business.

While meeting at the fringes of an academic conference, a general counsel of a major Indian software company once told the author that he had forgotten all law and now tries to catch up with the latest management jargons to negotiate deals, understand international relations scenario for smooth sailing of cross-border contract and deals and want to pick lesson on public policy to engage with the government. It’s evident that roles have changed for a lawyer in the corporate organizational structure, and that it requires a fair amount of business management, international relations, and public policy knowledge to put the legal aspect of business into action and effective outcome.

Management Executive Education and Corporate Law Courses

Compliance is indeed perceived as a cost-inductive activity without major benefits accruing to the corporate organizations. But a well-devised business strategy would require clear forecasting on the realm of possible legal issues as well as tough business decisions to stay clear of legal battles. Hence it is pertinent for the management executive education sector to ponder as well as act upon to include a clear focus on regulatory and legal compliance courses. The need for awareness of emerging dimension of liability and duties of directors and key management personnel in corporate law as well as the impact of regulations pertaining to information technology, privacy is aired by managers themselves. With the emergence of the disclosure regime as well focuses on sustainability-related regulations, compliance may require much more focus.  

The problems faced by many managers in the legal aspect of contract management as well as understanding the nuances of protecting the intellectual property rights should be eye-openers for corporate organizations. The need for specialized niche courses on corporate legal compliance and regulation is evident. Sadly, there are not many quality courses on these lines which could cater to the need of non-legal managers. 

It is important that executive programmes on law, such as an executive master in law (LLM) and other value added certificate programmes also have to be evolved. Corporate organizations also need to understand the need for re-skilling the legal professionals. It is also important to realize that the non-legal managers require to be exposed to the basics of the regulatory environment as well as a compliance requirement. Hope that the relevant academic stakeholders would step in to develop useful executive education courses, considering the relevance of legal courses in executive education. The presently available courses in the legal education sector need serious revamping from the perspective of the syllabus. The possibility of running MOOC courses on legal aspect relevant for lawyers and non-legal managers could be explored by the stakeholders.

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'Nov. 20, 2018' with cover story titled 'BW Education Issue Nov-Dec 2018'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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