BYU, Kirkland, partner on program for future M&A lawyers

gordonsmith
© Brad Slade

Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark School of Law is partnering with Kirkland & Ellis on a program designed to introduce transactional law to students early in their academic careers. The Deals Academy is a program for first-year law school students who have demonstrated an interest in transactional law designed to help them experience the M&A dealmaking process.

“We see this as an entrée giving them a chance to start thinking of themselves as transactional lawyers,” said Gordon Smith, dean of BYU’s law school. “This way students are better equipped to pursue this as a career path. It gives them the experience they can use to select classes or pursue clerkship opportunities in their second summer.”

The program, which begins April 29, runs over three days and is designed to give students access to top M&A lawyers and also introduce them to New York City “so they can experience the environment and picture themselves living and working there,” Smith said.

The curriculum for the program was developed by the founder of the LawMeets national legal education program, Karl Okamoto, professor at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law. According to Prof. Will Clayton, who along with Smith will accompany BYU’s students to New York, a typical day would consist of a simulation where students have a deal-fact pattern with a full acquisition agreement. They are then charged with advocating on behalf of a client with set business objectives in negotiations. Students would receive feedback from Kirkland & Ellis lawyers on their deal-document markups and interactions during negotiating sessions. The day is capped by senior lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis demonstrating how they would have conducted the negotiations just concluded by students.

Twelve students were chosen for this year’s pilot program from dozens of applicants. Students were chosen based on a combination of demonstrating interest in transactional law and strong academic performance.

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