A Message From Associate Dean Teague
August 2, 2021
Dear Baylor Law Family and Friends,
Let me first say thank you! I am blessed beyond measure to be a member of the Baylor Law family. It has been my honor and my privilege to work alongside Brad for almost 30 years to lead in the role of associate dean. After much prayerful consideration, I decided to step down from that position to consider how I might best serve Baylor Law in the coming years. While continuing to serve as a faculty member, I will assume the duties as the inaugural Director of Business Law Programs. As director, I hope to serve as the catalyst for advancing our business and transactional programs, improving recruitment, and elevating and strengthening the national and regional profile of Baylor Law’s business and transactional programs. I also will continue to work on enhancing the leadership development and professional formation of our students while working on a national level to better prepare future lawyers for the important roles lawyers are expected to assume as leaders and difference makers in our society. This transition will allow me more time to work on these two areas that are near and dear to my heart. I believe enhancing both areas is vitally important to the future of Baylor Law and the legal profession.
Even though my background is business and tax, I have always been proud of our national reputation as the best training ground for trial lawyers. With that said, we have worked diligently to enhance our corporate, business, and transactional courses and programming so that we can say with pride and full confidence that we are equally skilled at producing business and transactional lawyers. While we have made great strides toward that goal in the last ten years, more is needed, and I look forward to working with alumni and friends to move our program forward.
In the meantime, we want you to be aware of some of the many additions to our business and transactional programming:
- The Closer: National Transactional Law Competition. This one-of-a-kind annual transactional law competition was created by Professor Beth Miller, who is nationally recognized for her expertise in business entities. Invitations to this unique and challenging national competition are coveted by law students from across the nation who want to vie for the title of the best law student deal closer in America. In its five years, this competition has become the most prestigious transactional law competition in the country.
- Business Law Boot Camp. Also created by Professor Miller, this innovative annual program provides a valuable opportunity to a select group of Baylor law students. With help from Professor Miller and her colleagues, selected students spend an intense week learning about a variety of business law topics from a group of highly regarded transactional lawyers from practices across the country.
- Transactional Law Clinics. With the addition of Assistant Professor Allen Page last year, we are working to provide hands-on, practical experience working with entrepreneurs and startups. In addition to Professor Connie Nichols’ Trademark and Patent Law Clinics, our Entrepreneurship Clinic now provides opportunities for our law students to receive valuable, hands-on experience in some of the profession’s most complex and fastest-growing arenas. This clinic is coordinating with multiple law firms, Baylor University’s Lab-to-Market program, and the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business Angel Network to provide students meaningful transactional experience. Additionally, students interested in estate planning have the opportunity to prepare wills and related estate planning documents under the supervision of Professor Tom Featherston as part of our Estate Planning Clinic for veterans and first-responders.
- Legal Analysis, Research, and Communication program (LARC). Our required legal writing program is second to none! Our LARC program is staffed primarily by six full-time faculty members who have created a professional training system that prepares students to engage in effective written communication from the moment they enter practice as lawyers. Early in their second year of law school, as the fourth of the seven quarters of required legal writing instruction, Baylor Law students take LARC 4: Transactional Drafting. Students generally take Transactional Drafting early in their second year at the same time as the other required transactional courses: Business Organizations I, Trust and Estates, and Taxation and Accounting Principles for Lawyers. In Transactional Drafting, students focus on documents generated in a typical transactional practice such as basic contracts and advice letters. In our newest elective course, Contract Drafting and Negotiation, Legal Writing Lecturer Kayla Landeros builds on those fundamental contract-drafting principles through a series of drafting assignments and addresses the art of deal-making, problem-solving strategies, and negotiation tactics.
- Professional Tracks. Baylor Law offers 15 “Professional Tracks” and students have the opportunity to earn “Special Distinction” in 7 of them. Students interested in pursuing transactional practice can choose from among several Professional Tracks that provide deeper dives into specialized areas such as business planning, commercial law, estate planning, healthcare law, intellectual property, and transactions involving real estate and natural resources. Every Professional Track is organized so that courses complement and reinforce one another while also offering practical skill components to give students valuable, hands-on experience working with documents and clients. Students who excel in the Business Planning, Commercial Law, Estate Planning, or Intellectual Property Professional Tracks have the opportunity to pursue Special Distinction within the Track by completing additional courses as well as a customized Capstone experience.
- Transactional Capstones. Capstone courses offer students a one-on-one experience working directly with faculty members to complete tasks similar to those assigned to a first-year associate in a law firm. Meeting weekly with the professor, the student completes assignments that build upon and tie together various fundamental concepts learned in other courses such as business organizations, securities regulation, and trusts and estates.
- In-house Externship Program. A number of companies with in-house lawyers provide our students with the opportunity to observe and learn about the practical skills in-house attorneys use every day. These students also complete a classroom component each week to discuss substantive issues commonly encountered by in-house counsel in corporate law departments as well as ethical issues and practical skills, such as working with outside counsel, identifying and dealing with conflicts of interest, preserving attorney-client privilege in the in-house context, developing policies and monitoring compliance, and conducting internal investigations.
- Transactional Cases in Practice Court. In their second quarter of Practice Court, students completing a transactional Professional Track have the opportunity to choose a final “big trial” case drawn from that area of practice to allow a customized integration between the Practice Court experience and the student’s future specialization. Students even have the option of completing a “capstone” course in coordination with their big trial which allows them to work directly with a transactional law professor serving as a consultant throughout the big trial process.
- Transactional Competitions. Baylor Law students participate in internal and external transactional competitions. By enrolling in Transactional Law Practice Lab, an elective class offered each spring quarter, students work in teams of two on a hypothetical M&A or other corporate transaction. Students receive instruction and guidance on substantive issues as well as drafting and negotiation skills applicable to transactional practice. The class culminates in a negotiation competition in which the student teams representing each side of the transaction engage in negotiation rounds judged by practicing transactional lawyers. Prize money is awarded to the winners. Students can also try out for the Baylor Transactional Law Team to compete against students from other law schools in a variety of transactional law competitions around the nation. Some competitions focus on specific subject areas, such as sports law or healthcare law. The competition problems present a variety of contexts, such as M&A, venture capital, or startup enterprises. The formats of these competitions vary, but the skills honed by student competitors include analytical, drafting, client counseling, and negotiating skills encountered in transactional problem solving—the very skills that transactional lawyers at a law firm or in-house legal department tackle regularly.
- Transactional Law Mentoring Program. Baylor Law students participating in this newest program are paired with lawyers in a wide variety of transactional practices for advice and job-shadowing. Mentors meet with their mentees to discuss career paths, information about various areas of transactional law, courses students should consider taking, and lessons learned from practice.
- Transactional Dual Degree Programs. To accommodate students who contemplate a career where business or tax overlaps with law, Baylor Law and the Hankamer School of Business have long offered two dual degree programs that lead to the simultaneous award of Juris Doctor with a Master of Taxation or a Master of Business Administration. In recent years, Baylor Law students who are interested in healthcare can pursue a dual degree program to complete a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in healthcare administration.
I am excited about the progress we have made and look forward to expanding the corporate, business, and transactional opportunities for our students and graduates with the help of our alumni and friends! I welcome the occasion to visit with you about ideas to enhance our business and transactional training, to create new opportunities for our law students in the business world and legal profession, and to boost our national and regional reputation. You can reach me at 254-710-4822 or Leah_Teague@baylor.edu .
Thank you for all you do to represent Baylor Law so well! You make us proud and you inspire us to do our best to prepare future Baylor Lawyers for success and meaningful impact in the world.
Leah W. Teague
Professor of Law and
Director of Business Law Programs