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SMG’s ‘Pocket MBA for Lawyers’ gives attorneys business expertise

Executive Education program addresses the changing role of corporate counsels

Mini-MBA conference participant Susan Alexander, general counsel for PAREXEL International Corporation.

An in-house corporate lawyer may be a great attorney, but she can’t serve a company effectively without adequate business skills. That was the message of a daylong Mini-MBA conference at the School of Management on November 16.

Mini-MBA: Business Skills for In-House Counsel, conducted by SMG’s Executive Education Program in partnership with the Association of Corporate Counsels, drew more than 160 in-house lawyers from some of the Boston area’s largest companies — including Reebok, EMC, Stop & Shop, Millipore, and Tyco. It provided a glimpse inside an emerging trend in the legal profession: equipping corporate attorneys with business expertise.

The conference was a precursor to the weeklong Pocket MBA for Lawyers program that will be offered at SMG from January 23 to 27. Titled Beyond Legal Boundaries: Providing Exceptional Business Counsel, its curriculum will explore the business skills enabling lawyers to formulate legal solutions that meet clients’ business needs.

Obviously, the better corporate attorneys understand the operations of the business they work for, the more they can contribute to the overall success of the enterprise. But earning an MBA isn’t an option for many lawyers, and learning management on the fly isn’t a practical solution, especially when companies rely on their judgment on important business decisions, according to Susan Alexander, a participant in the recent Mini-MBA conference.

“The conference concentrated on issues that are relevant to general counsels, such as decision-making, valuation, and accounting fundamentals — all of which are key areas of interest and concern for people who are helping manage companies’ legal affairs,” says Alexander, general counsel for PAREXEL International Corporation, a global bio/pharmaceutical services organization based in Waltham, Mass.

Alexander found The New Corporate Counsel, a session taught by SMG Associate Professor Susan Samuelson, informative because it delved into the evolving role of in-house lawyers as managers.

For more information on SMG’s Pocket MBA for Lawyers program, visit http://management.bu.edu/exec/elc/pocket.shtml.