In-House Counsel Course Gives Students Glimpse Inside C-Suite

LLS In-House Counsel Course Alumni
Top: Nancy Avedissian '99 & Tiffany Lee '12. Bottom: Christopher Wilson '93 & Kendra Jones '99.

When developing a course that would provide LMU Loyola Law School students with an inside look into the range of legal issues confronted by in-house counsel, Professors Therese Maynard and Shannon Treviño ’06 needed look no further than their contacts, former students and other Loyola alumni at Fortune 500 and other top companies based in Southern California.

“Increasingly, millennials are seeking in-house experience earlier in their legal careers. And for many students who begin practicing at a law firm, securing an in-house position within a few years of graduation is their ultimate goal,” says Treviño, Patrick J. McDonough Director of Loyola’s Business Law Practicum. “Being an effective general counsel and working in-house requires good judgment, leadership skills and the ability to quickly and efficiently handle various legal and commercial issues that may arise.”

Loyola’s “Exploring the Role of In-House Counsel” course places Loyola Law School students in the shoes of the general counsel and shows them how the company’s lead lawyer would analyze and respond to a broad range of matters affecting public and private companies. The course is divided into several "modules," with each module led by an experienced in-house attorney.

In the spring 2019 semester, students received instruction from the following Loyola alumni: Kendra Jones ’99, Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel, Epson America; Nancy Avedissian’99, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Volt Information Sciences; Philline Zitin ’02, Vinita Agnihotri ’12 and Tricia Lee, Workplace Counsel Team at Panda Restaurant Group; Tiffany Lee ’12, Corporate Counsel, Thrive Market; and Christopher Wilson ’93, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, General Finance Corporation; along with Francesco Barbera, founder of Barbera Corporate Law, P.C., who led a module on the role of outside general counsel in advising social enterprises on corporate governance and transactions.

Loyola’s Business Law Practicum provides a training ground for students by offering experiential learning courses designed to mimic transactional practice.  After shifting from Big Law practice to teaching at Loyola several years ago, Treviño brainstormed with Maynard, the founder of Loyola’s Business Law Practicum, to identify new opportunities for hands-on learning experiences for students.  After a series of discussions with accomplished alumni in the field of business law, they honed in on developing a course on the role of in-house counsel. 

This class focuses on practical simulations based on, or largely derived from, actual legal matters that today’s corporate legal departments are currently experiencing. Meanwhile, supplemental readings, sample documents, case studies and class discussions expose students to the range of issues faced by in-house lawyers.

This year, classes covered a range of issues, including the roles of boards of directors, how in-house lawyers communicate and interact with business executives and teams, corporate governance, risk management, employment and HR issues, managing outside counsel and related party transactions.

“Loyola is one of only a few law schools nationwide providing this type of inside look at the role of a general counsel,” says Maynard.