Cornell Law School has launched a new master’s program designed to help full-time business professionals develop a deeper knowledge of the legal issues and concepts shaping their fields.
Offered primarily online with two summer visits to Cornell’s Ithaca campus, the 20-month Master of Science in Legal Studies (MSLS) program has begun accepting applications for an inaugural cohort of students starting in January.
“This program teaches people the language of law,” said Sital Kalantry, clinical professor of law and faculty director of the MSLS program. “It’s for business professionals who want to know the key concepts of U.S. law, how to navigate potential opportunities and pitfalls for their business, and when to look for additional resources.”
From startups to multinational corporations, Kalantry said, candidates who could benefit from the program include those involved in contracts and business development; finance; regulatory compliance; human resources; corporate governance; risk management; cybersecurity; immigration; intellectual property; and privacy.
“The MSLS is designed to be useful to almost anyone who’s interacting with the law in any number of contexts,” said Eduardo M. Peñalver ’94, the Allan R. Tessler Dean of Cornell Law School. “It’s like an MBA for law.”
From its inception, the program – the first of its kind offered by an Ivy League institution – was designed to be conducted online in collaboration with eCornell, the university’s distance learning platform since 2000. The flexible program allows full-time professionals to work at their own pace from wherever they are, while devoting 15-20 hours a week to their master’s studies.
In contrast to some programs, Kalantry said, MSLS students will not simply sit in on classes with others training to become practicing lawyers or be limited to adjunct faculty. Instead, full-time members of the Cornell Law School faculty and other leading lawyers have developed and will teach courses tailored specifically for business professionals and nonlawyers.
A small cohort of students will interact with each other and with faculty through online discussions, office hours and e-mail, Kalantry said. They’ll complete a capstone final project similar to a thesis.
Examples of the program’s core courses include:
- Introduction to the U.S. Legal System;
- Working with Business Contracts;
- Navigating the Intellectual Property Landscape;
- Employment Law;
- Criminal Liability of Organizations; and
- Cross-Border Transactions.
Electives focus on finance, health care, technology and privacy.
“We will give students an understanding of the legal regulations relevant to their business, where to find them and why they say what they say,” Kalantry said. “We think it will make them more effective in their jobs.”
Additional courses in persuasive communication and legal research will be taught on Cornell’s Ithaca campus during two intensive one-week summer sessions, providing training in fundamental legal skills that apply to many other contexts, Kalantry said.
Those sessions also will enable MSLS students to meet and network with their classmates and professors in person, and connect them to the campus, where they’ll be invited to participate in graduation ceremonies and whose alumni network they’ll join.
Admission to the first MSLS cohort is being offered on a rolling basis; the next monthly application deadline is July 15.