PUBLISHED:May 14, 2010

Alumni demonstrate support for Law and Entrepreneurship LLM

Alumni and friends of Duke Law School have given more than $100,000 in the past six months to help launch the Law and Entrepreneurship LLM program, which will welcome its inaugural class in August.

The two-semester, 23-credit program focuses on the legal, business, institutional, strategic, and public-policy frameworks that apply to entrepreneurs and innovation, combining rigorous academic study with practice and research opportunities that help students develop skills in representing clients.

Stanley Star ’61, Scott Arenare ’89, and Glenn Sarno ’92 are among those who have provided financial support based in part, they say, on an appreciation for the program’s hands-on approach to training students in areas related to their professional work.

Star is the principal of Cliffstar Corp., a private-label juice manufacturer headquartered in Dunkirk, N.Y. Arenare is managing director and general counsel in the New York office of Warburg Pincus, a global private equity investment firm. Sarno is a partner in the corporate department of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York, where he focuses on private investment funds and other facets of alternative asset management.

“It’s exciting and important for the Law School to undertake this type of program,” Star says. “We’re giving students a chance to work with entrepreneurs, with real experts in the field. It’s very appropriate. The program goes beyond general coursework to provide specific, useful skills and information.”

During a second-semester practicum, students will be placed in relevant externships with law firms, general counsels’ offices, venture capital firms, trade associations, government agencies, and similar settings in the field. A capstone project will allow students to work closely with faculty on scholarly research tied to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship policy.

“The program will address the intersection of legal principles and practical business applications, in the context of entrepreneurship and the early-stage enterprise,” Arenare says. “This is particularly appealing to me, as a lawyer focused on private equity, venture capital, and growth investing.”

The three-course core curriculum of the Law and Entrepreneurship LLM includes courses on Entrepreneurship and the Law, Intellectual Property, and Financial Information. Students also will take a Venture Capital and Private Equity course that uses a case study approach to expose students to the lifecycle of a startup venture with a particular focus on the different types of financing leveraged as a company matures.

“It is important to be well-versed in the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and the regulatory frameworks within which an entrepreneur must operate, while also having real, hands-on experience that brings these lessons to life. This program qualifies on both counts,” Sarno says. “Students will be challenged to translate their ideas into action and realize the tangible outcomes of their decisions.”

Clinical Professor Andrew Foster, who directs the Law School’s clinical programs, will oversee the experiential component of the LLM curriculum. He notes that alumni support is a critical component to the success of the new program.

“The faculty of Duke Law School is very excited about the new program and is confident that it will enrich the school as a whole,” Foster says. “We have been particularly gratified by the level of alumni enthusiasm surrounding the launch of the program; sustained, creative engagement in the program by the alumni will be critical to ensuring that the Law and Entrepreneurship LLM program reaches its full potential.”

“We’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm so many alums have expressed for the program. It is off the charts,” adds James Cox, Duke’s Brainerd Currie Professor of Law, who helped develop the LLM proposal and will serve as the program’s faculty director.

“Because the program is so deeply experiential, we need the on-going assistance of alumni in initially securing internships that embed the students in the vortex of venture activities and later in networking the program’s graduates so they obtain positions that can reap the benefits of the education and training provided by the program,” he says. “And, because the program’s participants are JDs many have substantial debts from college and law school, they and we need alumni assistance to reduce the program’s costs. Thus, this program, perhaps even more so than other efforts of the law school, calls for a partnership with the alumni.”