MBA ELECTIVES FOR SPRING 2008
LEGAL ENVIRONMENT OF BUSINESS
A top executive of a Fortune 50 company recently noted that in a post-Enron, Sarbanes-
Oxley kind of world, “[i]t’s not possible to think of a [business] strategy that doesn’t have a legal
compliance and regulatory element to it.” No wonder, then, that the AACSB, the accrediting
organization for business schools, recently decided that the skill set MBAs should have upon
graduation includes, first (and arguably foremost) the ability to manage a business ethically and
legally. Businesspeople who can identify legal issues, who can include legal considerations in
their strategic plans, and who know when to call in their company lawyers have a meaningful
competitive advantage. McCombs is blessed to have the second best (behind Wharton) legal
environment faculty in the nation.
Below are summaries of the Legal Environment of Business (LEB) electives that will be
offered in the Spring 2008 semester. All are listed in the course schedule as topics under the LEB
380 heading. LEB is located in the IROM Department.
LEB courses are generally a good bet. For the following LEB courses for MBAs
currently listed on the UT Course Instructor Survey Online Results page, the average course
instructor evaluation has been 4.6 in recent semesters.
LEB 380 Corporate Litigation: Damages T 5:00 – 8:00 (Professor Magee) This course
covers economic and financial expert testimony in corporate litigation generally.
Applications include the calculation of damages in corporate tort litigation as well as lost
profits and reasonable royalties in patent and trade secret cases. Students will apply the
principles to legal cases drawn from the instructor’s own expert testimony. There will be
guest lectures by major corporate litigators on the management of experts.
There will be no exams. The course will be for a letter grade based on your in-class
participation and your performance on several cases. The grading will not be confidential.
In some cases and if feasible, MBA students may work with law students in submitting
LEB 380.3: Law of Commercial Real Estate Finance and Development TTh 9:30 –
11:00 (Professor Paula Murray) This course covers the legal framework for commercial
real estate finance and development, including basic real estate law concepts, legal
aspects of financing techniques and instruments, subdivision land-use controls, and
environmental regulation of real estate development. Ethical dimensions are covered
where appropriate. Professor Murray, who moonlights as dean of the undergraduate
program, has taught this class for many years and is a hoot, to put it mildly. Her
evaluations in this class are typically 4.5 or so.
LEB 380.4: Securities Regulation TTh 9:30 – 11:00 (Professor Robert Prentice) This
course could be titled “Law for Finance.” It studies the broad legal environment within
which securities are issued and traded, including such matters as insider trading, mergers
& acquisitions, venture capital, private equity funds, hedge funds, initial public offerings,
shareholder rights and the like. Legal responsibilities and liabilities of investment
bankers, stock analysts, hedge fund managers, auditors, and other professionals are
studied. Sarbanes-Oxley will get a mention or two. The course is quite helpful for the
Series 7 and other professional certification exams. Professor Prentice is a member of
the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and his evaluations for this class are consistently
4.8 and 4.9.
LEB 380.7: Corporation Law TTh 8:00 – 9:30 (Professor Larry Laurent)
The form that entrepreneurs choose for their business enterprises can have significant
effects upon their operation and success. Most large firms take the corporate form, of
course, and their operations are shaped and constrained in important ways by the law of
corporations. This course will examine the various business entities such as partnerships
and limited liability companies but with an emphasis on corporations. Students will learn
how these entities are formed and governed, determine which entity may be appropriate
for a certain types of business, and examine agency law to determine how employees
create profits and liabilities. Finally, students will examine the relationships between the
owners of a business such as the shareholders and the managers of the business such as
the officers and at the duties and liabilities imposed on those managers. Professor
Laurent has many years of experience both practicing law and teaching various business
law courses. He is a very popular instructor.
Topic 16: Legal Aspects of Marketing TTh 8:00 – 9:30 (Professor Stuart Baggish)
This course studies the legal environment within which marketers must operate. Topics
include state and federal laws on consumer protection, pricing (including price fixing,
price discrimination, and other antitrust issues), packaging, advertising, distribution,
dealer control, intellectual property protection, and related topics. Ethical and
international dimensions are included where appropriate. Professor Baggish has
substantial legal experience as a prosecutor of high profile cases in Florida, an intellectual
property lawyer and litigator in Los Angeles, and general counsel for an art supplier in
Austin. He has had hands-on experience with virtually all of the legal issues that
marketers could confront.
LEB 380.26: Law for Entrepreneurs TTh 11:00 – 12:30 (Professor Christopher
All entrepreneurs face a raft of difficult legal issues, including how to protect their
intellectual property, how to hire and retain employees, how to raise capital without
violating SEC rules, how to extract wealth from their company without being sued, etc.
During this class students take an idea and learn how to protect it, build a business around
it and grow that business while minimizing legal and regulatory risks. Professor Meakin
is an Associate Dean with the MBA program. He has taught at Rice as well as UT. He
has practiced law with one of the nation’s most prestigious firms in Houston and avoided
indictment. He has also been general counsel to a start-up company in Austin. His
evaluations in this class are always in the 4.5 – 4.8 range.
Topic 31: Energy Law MW 9:30 – 11:00 (Professor David Spence)
This course will introduce students to the legal issues facing energy companies (energy
generating as well as energy service companies) in a deregulating, although not fully
deregulated, world. Topics will include the (de)regulation of generation, wholesale
transactions, and retail service, as well as environmental regulation of energy production
and the contractual and other legal issues governing the commercial market for energy.
The ongoing push to develop cleaner energy sources, as well as recent events involving
Enron, Dynegy, the California energy markets, etc. will make this a darned interesting
course. Professor Spence has done substantial research in this area. He has taught at
Harvard Law School, as well as the law schools at Cornell and Vanderbilt. He does
substantial teaching in UT’s executive education program for Shell Oil. He received a
4.6 student evaluation the last time he taught this course.