Founded in 2003 by its inaugural chair, Dean David M. Schizer, with the support of then Dean David Leebron, the Charles Evans Gerber Transactional Studies Program is an innovative program that brings transactions to Columbia Law School and the teaching of transaction-based skills to the classroom.
The conventional law school curriculum implicitly emphasizes appellate litigation, teaching students to read, argue and distinguish cases, and to predict what a judge will do. However, a transactional practice demands an additional set of skills. The casebook method alone will not help a young lawyer identify, evaluate, and manage business risks, structure agreements, negotiate terms, and draft documentation for complex financial transactions. Traditionally, young lawyers are expected to learn those challenging skills in practice -- potentially a missed opportunity for the legal academy. Instead, by leveraging Columbia Law School's historical strength in corporate law and financial regulation, the Program offers students the opportunity to develop and practice transactional skills before graduation and emphasizes that skilled transactional lawyers are more than simply a "necessary evil," creating value for their clients by managing transaction costs and acting as business advisors. The Program achieves those results through the guidance of an experienced advisory board, a dedicated faculty, and innovative courses, conferences, and roundtable discussions that combine academic and real world expertise. Collaborations with other Columbia faculty are also an important part of the Program.
The Charles Evans Gerber Transactional Studies Program has three principal goals: Curricular innovation, in order to help students to better understand the world of business law; enhancing multi-disciplinary scholarship; and developing scholars with an expertise and interest in transaction-related studies.
In order to achieve the first of these goals, Columbia Law School has introduced a series of classes and seminars that focus on transactions and the art and practice of being a successful business lawyer, integrating Socratic teaching with experiential learning -- drafting, negotiating, and analyzing real-world business transactions -- to help students better understand what a business lawyer does. In addition to the core Deals course and Deals workshops, the Program sponsors a number of transaction-related seminars.
The Law School also provides a vibrant physical and intellectual space in which cutting-edge transactions are explored, facilitating the formal and informal exchange of ideas among Columbia's many law and business faculty and prominent economists, practitioners, business leaders, judges, and government officials.
Finally, the Program provides the best means for practitioners who wish to become full-time academics to train, research, and produce scholarship, as well as engaging experienced practitioners as adjunct instructors. The Program also funds faculty research in transactional studies.