May 2023 Business Law Boot Camp
In 2023, Baylor Law School hosted its seventh annual Business Law Boot Camp — a unique, week-long program covering a wide range of business law subjects. Distinguished transactional attorneys from across the State of Texas traveled to Waco to serve as visiting faculty for the week. They offered their real-world perspective and experience as they covered a variety of topics—from contract drafting to trademark and advertising issues—in dynamic classroom sessions. Additionally, the visiting faculty shared their wisdom and insight with students through luncheon conversations and other informal gatherings throughout the week. Business Law Boot Camp is generously underwritten by Kim and Bill Shaddock and sponsored by the firms of Beard Kultgen Brophy Bostwick & Dickson, PLLC, Haynes & Boone, LLP, and Barnes & Thornburg, LLP. Second- and third-year students are selected for admission to the class through an application process, and the popular class has a waiting list every year. During the week of the course, students attend over a dozen different sessions, complete various related assignments, and take three exams. Students also complete a pre-course reading requirement and a post-course writing assignment.
Professor Elizabeth (Beth) Miller, who holds the M. Stephen and Alyce A. Beard Chair in Business and Transactional Law at Baylor Law, is the creator and director of Business Law Boot Camp. Every year, she works tirelessly to see her vision come to life. From its inception, Professor Miller’s goal for the program has been to offer students an opportunity to engage with a multitude of business law concepts and skills and see them applied by experienced transactional lawyers who come right from the front lines of practice. The course drives home to students the inter-related nature of the various topics covered and provides a unique opportunity for students to network, receive mentoring, and engage in professional development. Over the course of the week, students are exposed to practitioners from varied size firms, practice settings, geographic areas, and backgrounds.
This year’s Business Law Boot Camp kicked off on Sunday, April 30, with dinner and a classroom session covering the tax considerations related to business entity formation and operation. Professor Miller was joined by Dan Baucum, a Shareholder at the Dallas office of Ferguson Braswell, for this session.
On Monday morning, Traci Cotton, Director of the Business and Public Filings Division of the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, along with Chase Howell, Managing Attorney for the Business and Public Filings Division, and David Eskew, Melissa Clark, and Summer Thomas, Staff Attorneys with the Division, gave students an inside view of business formation issues seen from the trenches of the Secretary of State’s Office. The group was also joined by Carmen Flores, the retired Director of the Business and Public Filings Division and a long-time contributor to Business Law Boot Camp. The students reviewed helpful resources prepared exclusively for the Boot Camp and were provided with tips and tricks for navigating the Secretary of State’s business filing system.
After an icebreaker activity during the lunch hour, students returned to the classroom for an afternoon session covering the legal and practical issues associated with raising capital. Mollie Duckworth, Partner and Chair of the Austin Corporate Department at Latham & Watkins, captured the attention and interest of the students with this session focusing on federal securities laws and start-up and venture capital fundraising.
At the end of the day, the students met in small groups with Dan Baucum and enjoyed Dr. Pepper floats. At these informal gatherings, Baucum answered questions and provided practical advice to the students. Baucum’s long career—including serving as Special Assistant to the IRS General Counsel, practicing and mentoring young lawyers in both BigLaw and boutique firms, teaching as an adjunct at several law schools, and holding leadership positions in the Tax Bar—has provided him a wealth of perspective to share with the students.
Tuesday started off with an enthusiastic lecture on Contract Drafting in the 21st Century given by Hull Youngblood, General Counsel for Sankofa Development Group, LLC. He showcased for the class the tools utilized by the modern drafter, as well as some of the developing options that the students will have at their disposal when they enter into practice. Youngblood gave students an opportunity to hear from two guest speakers during his session. The first was Ken Adams, a leading authority on contract drafting, who discussed the advantages and pitfalls of using artificial intelligence programs in the drafting process. Students also met with Jim Jorrie, the CEO of Sankofa Development Group, LLC, who spoke with students about what he looks for when hiring in-house and outside counsel and what he expects of young lawyers. The students also spent lunch with Youngblood where he shared his wisdom and insights obtained from his vast experience in practicing law, serving in leadership positions in the Bar, and educating lawyers at continuing legal education programs. Youngblood left students with an impressive display of his signature magic tricks, garnering extended applause from the crowd.
On Tuesday afternoon, Baylor Law Professor Allen Page provided students with an overview of basic accounting and finance principles. Tuesday concluded with students taking the first of three exams.
Wednesday was action-packed, as the students began their morning with a panel discussion on commercial loan transactions led by Beard Kultgen Partners Rick Brophy, Matt Czimskey, and Sam Hays. The panel of experienced Waco attorneys guided students through a set of commercial loan documents and explored the practical and legal considerations of commercial lending.
Students spent the lunch hour on Wednesday with Greg Looser, whose career has included private law practice, serving as general counsel to a worldwide energy company, consulting on corporate governance and compliance issues, and co-founding several entrepreneurial ventures. Looser shared his experience, perspective, and passion regarding the topics of corporate culture, governance, ethics, and compliance.
Wednesday afternoon, Andy Powell, a Partner in the Waco office of Naman Howell, and Miranda Chavez, from Boulware & Valoir in Houston, gave students a crash course on trademark and advertising issues.
One of the highlights of the week for the students was the Wednesday evening reception in the President’s Suite of the Baylor Club at McLane Stadium. The students were joined by members of the week’s visiting faculty as well as alumni of the Business Law Boot Camp from past years. The returning young Baylor Lawyers enjoyed connecting or re-connecting with one another and Boot Camp faculty, and they enthusiastically shared with current students their advice and insight regarding life as a young transactional lawyer. The reception also gave the students an opportunity to network with the visiting faculty and lawyers affiliated with firm sponsors of the Boot Camp.
Students returned to the classroom Thursday morning for an in-depth discussion of M&A transactions led by Tom Harris, Chair of the Mergers and Acquisitions Practice Group and Administrative Partner of the Dallas office of Haynes & Boone. Students took a break for brunch with Harris provided by Haynes & Boone.
On Thursday afternoon, Paul Williamson, Partner at Morgan Williamson in Amarillo, and Joe Hinton, of the same firm, delivered a dynamic presentation on family business succession planning entitled “Avoiding Dysfunction and Disaster in Family Businesses.” Williamson and Hinton spent the session discussing the succession planner’s “legal toolbox” and concluded the discussion with a series of real-world scenarios illustrating family business issues and the development and execution of plans to address those issues. The students then spent time enjoying ice cream from Waco’s own Heritage Creamery with Williamson and Hinton as they shared stories and advice from their experience in practice. Later that evening, the students took the second of their three exams.
Friday, the final day of Business Law Boot Camp, featured a panel discussion on negotiation by Steve Bolden, Partner at Lock Lord in Dallas, and Kayla Landeros, Partner at West Webb Allbritton & Gentry and Lecturer at Baylor Law School. The class session was capped off with a mock negotiation in which students Andrew Cowden and Emily Garrett were tapped to demonstrate negotiation skills learned by the class during the morning session. After receiving some crash individual coaching from Bolden and Landeros, the students negotiated a draft nondisclosure agreement in connection with a hypothetical acquisition that had served as the basis for the class M&A discussion the previous day. Students spent the lunch hour with Bolden and Landeros, asking questions about transactional practice and career development.
After lunch, Professor Miller offered closing remarks and presented Business Law Boot Camp t-shirts to each of the students as mementos of their unique learning experiences. The students took their final exam late Friday afternoon.
In reflecting on their experience in Business Law Boot Camp, the students had high praise for all aspects but were particularly appreciative of the practical perspective and the opportunity to forge relationships with classmates who had similar interests and practicing lawyers. Third-year student Mary Katherine Camp stated that “the fast-paced learning environment and real-world application was the most enjoyable aspect of the program for me.” She added that “the structure of the class required that we stay on top of our learning, forcing me not only to participate in the lectures but to process and retain the information. I really enjoyed that everything we learned was coupled with a real-life example. One of the highlights of the course was meeting the different faculty members, who gladly shared their practical experiences. Hearing about their journeys gave me valuable insight and enhanced my overall learning experience.” Second-year student Shayan Baig commented that “despite Baylor Law’s relatively small student population, I hadn’t met many of my peers who are interested in practicing transactional business law. The Boot Camp provided an opportunity to learn about career opportunities from both the guest lecturers and my fellow students, which I found to be the most valuable aspect of the course.”