BU Law to launch new Transactional Law Program:
Building practice-ready skills for the legal workplace
Veteran attorney, banker and educator Tina L. Stark recently joined the BU Law faculty
to head a new Transactional Law Program that will provide students not only with
knowledge of substantive business and financial law but also the practical skills to deliver
informed services to clients.
In general, junior associates in business law practices aren't useful for a couple of
years, notes Stark.
Transactional associates beginning practice today need skills and
knowledge that they can use on their first day of work. Clients don't want junior
transactional lawyers on their matters because they don't want to pay for their training.
Students who can be put to work immediately are that much more valuable and attractive
as new employees. That's the intent of the new
Transactional Law Program
Tina has been on the cutting
edge of teaching lawyers and
law students professional,
practical and translatable
transactional skills, an area
where innovations are gaining
traction in U.S. law schools.
Professor Stark's teaching is informed by her years as a
banker and as a corporate partner at Chadbourne &
Parke LLP. She also spent 14+ years as an adjunct
professor and teacher of continuing legal education
courses. Through her own business, she taught
transactional continuing legal education seminars at
firms in the United States and abroad.
Stark believes that preparation for the actual practice of transactional law must begin with
theory, followed by progressively more sophisticated building blocks that include
practical application of doctrine.
The key, she says,
is to expose students to material
more than once, a critical factor in learning.
Litigation is usually taught in this way. Students start in their first year with civil
procedure and legal writing, where they learn how to research and write a memo and
brief, and move on to evidence in the second year. Then, through sophisticated skills
courses, they learn how to take depositions, argue motions and cross-examine a witness.
Stark believes that the curriculum on the transactional side should mirror this
This process depends on students having taken excellent doctrinal courses, Stark
The doctrinal courses provide the foundation on which the skills courses can
build, and Boston University has some of the strongest faculty in the field teaching these
According to Stark, transactional building blocks, such as contract drafting, provide core
transactional skills and an essential foundation to learning negotiation. She envisions a
drafting course that focuses on how to incorporate the business deal into the contract and
how to look at a contract from the client's business perspective so that the deal is
memorialized in a way that is most advantageous to the client.
Other courses will teach how to think like a deal lawyer, contract analysis, risk analysis,
negotiation, and how to explain business issues to a client. Through simulations, students
will learn how to perform specific tasks that will make them immediately valuable to a
firm and a client, including due diligence, transaction management and the drafting of
third-party opinion letters, resolutions and closing documents.
Finally, as a capstone course, students will work for an entire semester through all stages
of a simulated transaction – from the letter of intent through the closing. At this point,
with students possessing a foundation in both doctrine and skills, simulations could be
taught at a very sophisticated level by practitioners involved daily in those types of
What others say about Tina Stark and Transactional Law:
William D. Henderson, professor of law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law
and director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession commented:
have long struggled with the challenge of teaching effective transactional law. For the last
20 years, many of the nation's leading firms have turned to Tina Stark to fill this large
skills gap. The reason is simple: Her innovative workshops and teaching materials create
powerful, intuitive frameworks for understanding complex transactions, plus these
concepts are made immediately concrete through realistic problems and simulations that
develop hands-on skills. It is a huge coup for Boston University to hire Tina Stark. Her
pedagogy sets the standard for legal transactional training, both in practice and in law
Law firms also recognize the need for the kind of transactional education that Tina Stark
has provided to law students and to lawyers.
Tina has been on the cutting edge of
teaching lawyers and law students professional, practical and translatable transactional
skills, an area where innovations are gaining traction in U.S. law schools, said Jane
Eiselein, Director of Professional Development at Ropes & Gray.
Her knowledge has
been important in addressing the gap between law school and law practice, and she will
be a significant contributor to developing talent at BU Law School and in the Boston