By Andrew Cohen
Greg Genske ’98 has negotiated some of baseball’s most lucrative contracts and represents Jameis Winston, the first pick in last year’s National Football League draft. Linda Lichter ’76 is a powerhouse dealmaker with a star-studded Hollywood client roster. Scott Kupor is a Silicon Valley giant who heads one of its premier venture capital firms.
What do they have in common? Each will lead a new one-credit course at Berkeley Law this fall—one of seven first-time offerings available to students in different areas of business law.
“These courses, and the heavy hitters teaching them, greatly enhance our business law program,” said Adam Sterling ’13, executive director of the school’s Berkeley Center for Law and Business (BCLB). “They bring leaders of industry to Berkeley Law and provide our students with the opportunity to interact with not just the world’s top academics, but the world’s top practitioners.”
Sterling worked closely with the business law faculty and the academic planning leadership to identify top practitioners that could “provide our students with real-world experiences in key practice areas like mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and sports and entertainment law.”
Genske, executive director and president of The Legacy Agency’s baseball division and a regular panelist at Berkeley Law’s annual Sports & Law Conference, will teach Representing Professional Athletes. In recent years, he has happily witnessed the rise of “student interest in sports law and more specifically in athlete agents. I felt like my background and expertise could be a significant contribution to Berkeley’s program, and honestly, I’m excited about the opportunity to teach at my alma mater.”
With the conference’s growing popularity, the 2012 launch of the Berkeley Journal of Entertainment & Sports Law and new course offerings, students interested in sports law ample opportunities to learn. In Genske’s class, they will eliminate any common misconceptions about agents that are often portrayed onscreen.
“Successful sports agents understand that their job is not about glamour, parties or facilitating poor behavior,” Genske said. “It’s about hard work, discipline and always providing the best advice—whether or not it’s what your client wants to hear.” The keys to representing athletes? “Understanding your legal and ethical responsibilities, and continually demonstrating you’re worthy of your clients’ complete trust and confidence.”
Hardly business as usual
Here are the new one-credit business law courses:
Representing Professional Athletes confronts the wide range of legal issues involved in sports law, including Title IX gender discrimination and antitrust litigation. Taught by Genske and drawing largely from his experiences and expertise, the course will focus on the agency relationship and representation of college and professional athletes, as well as key issues lawyers face when representing athletes.
Negotiating Hollywood Contracts introduces students to the world of entertainment agreements for talent with companies in the theatrical film business. Taught by Lichter, a partner at Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman, the course will simulate three real-world negotiations—each featuring a major practitioner in the field engaging in a mock negotiation with the instructor.
Governance in Venture Capital: The Dual Fiduciary Problem addresses how venture capital investors balance the potentially conflicting interests of the company with the interests of their own firm. Taught by Kupor, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the course will illuminate the role of venture capital in the broader U.S. economy and how such funds are raised and managed.
Deal Workshop: Mergers and Acquisitions pilots an innovative new program linking doctrinal courses with workshops that walk through the steps of business deals. Taught by Ronald Cami, a partner at Davis Polk and former general counsel at TPG Capital, the course navigates how to negotiate a complex transaction—and the different ways of applying the skills required to do so.
Executive Compensation: Legal Fundamentals and Practical Application provides an overview of the rules and practice norms surrounding executive compensation, a topic that touches myriad corporate practices. Taught by Michael Segal, a senior partner at Wacthell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the course will focus on the application of these rules to specific, real-world situations.
Financial Management of Non-Profits teaches foundational tools and techniques for effectively managing the finances of such organizations and their projects. Taught by Brent Copen, a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and CFO of Tiburcio Vásquez Health Center, the course will help students dissect financial information as part of their strategic decision making.
Financial Statement Analysis provides a basic understanding of financial and accounting concepts that are critical to successfully representing business clients. Taught by Olga Mack, general counsel at the tech startup ClearSlide, and Troy Foster, former legal department director at TrueCar, the course will sharpen practical skills related to reading and analyzing financial statements.
Susan Whitman, Berkeley Law’s assistant dean of academic planning and curriculum coordination, cited two main reasons for developing more one-credit classes: “To give students exposure to an area of law, like environmental justice, that they might want to explore further with advanced courses, or to give them an in-depth, immersion into specific areas of practice that students have long been interested in, such as representing professional athletes or negotiating Hollywood contracts.”
By condensing the scheduling of these courses, “we can bring in national and international experts to teach who would otherwise be unable to come to Berkeley for an entire semester,” Whitman said. “This spring, we hope to expand the availability of one-unit courses to first-year students by giving them small seminars on topics that are specialized, interdisciplinary and timely—such as policing disparities, technology policy and comparative equality.”
Other first-time offerings
Law and Economics of Discrimination explores the history of economic thought on discrimination and its intersection with current litigation practice. Taught by Berkeley Law Professors Justin McCrary, director of UC Berkeley’s Social Science Data Laboratory, and Robert Cooter, director of the Law and Economics program, the course will incorporate social science perspectives.
Poetic Justice: Dostoevsky, Nabokov and Literature in the Shadow of the Law examines some conceptual and thematic places where literature and law intersect. Taught by Eric Naiman, a UC Berkeley Professor of Comparative Literature and Slavic Languages and a former attorney, the course will focus on novels and texts where crime, judgment and punishment assume particular importance.
Public Speaking for Lawyers enables students to develop valuable oration skills that attorneys and law students are expected to display. Taught by Mallika Kaur, a lawyer and writer who focuses on international human rights, the course will hone students’ speech structure and mechanics and teach them how to research, outline, write and deliver various types of speeches and presentations.
Mediation Lab in Estates and Trusts offers a practical understanding of Estates and Trusts matters through the lens of mediation. Taught by mediator and Berkeley Law Lecturer Betsy Candler, and intended for students enrolled in Estates and Trusts, the course will use case scenarios and simulation exercises to show how to resolve conflicts arising from the distribution of a decedent’s property.
Social Justice Issues in Entertainment and Media Law explores social justice issues in the entertainment, media and technology industries. Taught by Berkeley Law Professor Russell Robinson, the course will include guest speakers to help engage issues such as the underrepresentation of people of color in Hollywood, gender pay inequity and gender and racial disparities in Silicon Valley.