Preparing for practice: Wintersession 2016
Four hundred and sixty students spent the last few days of their winter break honing their practical skills during the Law School’s sixth annual Wintersession.
During four days of classes taught by faculty and practitioners – including many alumni – students received hands-on instruction in such areas as litigation strategy, international transactions, investing, and negotiating.
Ron Aizen ’05, counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell, offered students an introduction to executive compensation in his course of the same name. He focused on the substance of executive compensation law, such as taxes and securities during the first half of the course. During the second half, students participated in a mock negotiation of a CEO employment agreement.
“In addition to giving the students a taste of what an executive compensation attorneys do, I wanted them to gain an appreciation of the distinction between litigation and transactional practice,” said Aizen. “I think it’s one of the most significant decisions that they’ll need to make.”
Partnering on a Wintersession course for the fifth time with Practice and Strategic Development of International Transactions: Investment in Latin America, Stuart Berkson and Jose Meirelles taught students how to take a transaction from start to finish.
Berkson, a partner at DLA Piper in Chicago, and Meirelles, a partner at Pinheiro Netto Advogados in São Paulo, Brazil, structured their course on the practical application of legal theory. “We try to give the theory and feather it through each practice document,” said Berkson, “We want to teach the life of a transaction and the strategy behind it.” He added that the pair see their course, and other Wintersession classes, as a chance to expose students to the opportunities and challenges of practicing law. “We both really like practice,” he said. “It’s possible to be in practice and really enjoy what you do.”
Cameron Gibbs ’16 said the course, The Way It All Works: Investing, Negotiating, and Operating in the Real World, taught by James Rhee, executive chairman and chief executive officer of Ashley Stewart and founder and president of FirePine Group, LLC afforded “the perfect opportunity” to learn the mechanics of company valuation and how to analyze financial statements. “Now, I know the difference between a truly healthy company, and one that is merely attractive on paper.”
Gibbs, who hopes to go on to corporate law after graduation, said Rhee also discussed the importance of developing “soft” skills. “James reminded us that relationships are critical to social and professional satisfaction –that by being open and pleasant to one another, we create happier and more productive environments.”