Professors in the business and law school are crossing the quad to teach students outside of their wheelhouse. Jonathan Whitaker, associate professor of management at the Robins School of Business, taught an introduction to business course to law students this January.

“Our law school students needed a basic background in business in order to be more successful in their job interview process and beginning stages of their career,” Whitaker said.

But he’s not the only one who is giving students a crash course in a different subject. Steve Allred, former provost of the University of Richmond and now professor of law, is teaching an introductory law course to business students.

“The idea is to introduce students to some of the important legal concepts they may encounter in starting up and/or running a business, whether large or small,” Allred said. 

He and Whitaker agree that exposing students to different specialties can only benefit them long term.

“Students’ feedback has been extremely positive,” Whitaker said. “They had encountered business issues in their internships or their law school classes, but they didn’t have the appropriate background to fully understand them. Now they feel equipped to confidently respond to them.” 

Whitaker’s week long course gave students a snapshot into current business practices, examining cases that applied basic business concepts, followed by an exam and final project due 10 days after the course was over.

“Many lawyers represent corporate clients, and these corporate clients will have legal issues that are fundamentally grounded in their business,” Whitaker said. “To properly represent their clients, they have to understand the business issues.”

Allred’s class takes a similar approach; however, it is a semester long course, examining everything from the nature of law to investor and consumer protection.

“The Robins School faculty agreed it was important to offer this background to their students, and I offered to teach the pilot course,” Allred said.

Whitaker also believes it is imperative to give law students and business students a basic understanding of each other’s disciplines because it can set them apart from students at other universities. He also said it encourage cross-school collaboration within the University of Richmond, which can improve the overall experience for students.

“We have both a highly ranked business and law school,” Whitaker said. “By working together, we can give students confidence in other subjects. Whether they’re in a boardroom or a courtroom, they can have the assurance to respond to both business and law issues .”

For more information on these courses, you can visit the business course catalog and the law course catalog.