W&L Law Professor Named Founding Member of AALS Transactional Law Section

Lexington, VA Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Lyman P.Q. Johnson
This June, the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) announced the formation of a new section on Transactional Law and Skills.  Lyman Johnson, the Robert O. Bentley Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, will serve as a founding Executive Committee member of the new section. 

The AALS is a non-profit educational association of 172 law schools representing over 10,000 law faculty in the United States and organizes professional development programs for law professors and administrators. These programs are targeted to a complement of over 90 sections dedicated to specific areas of the law.

The new section will focus on teaching students the substantive knowledge, skills, and tasks required to become transactional lawyers, such as those who work in law firm Financial Services or Corporate Acquisitions groups.  Members of this section will also explore transactional law as a multidisciplinary area of law practice including the law with respect to contracts, business associations, securities, tax, labor and employment, the environment, and the Employment Retirement Income Security Act.

"The creation of this section is, frankly, long overdue," says Johnson. "Legal education, traditionally, has focused largely on litigation. Yet most lawyers spend little if any time in litigation-related matters during their careers as practicing attorneys."

Johnson has long addressed this imbalance in legal education through his Business Planning Practicum, a transaction-based class where students, among other tasks, develop from scratch an operating agreement for a new business. This practice-based class, which served as a model for the teaching methods that constitute W&L's new third-year curriculum, serves as a capstone to doctrinal classes such as Close Business Arrangements and Securities Regulation that emphasize planning rather than just litigating.

Among its many goals, the new AALS section will address how to integrate the teaching of doctrinal law with the essential skills required to become a successful transactional lawyer.  The section also will provide a forum for those who teach transactional law and skills to discuss and present their research, an important emerging area of legal scholarship. 

 "The goal will be to promote scholarly endeavors to enrich the teaching of transactional lawyering and to provide insight into the deal-making process as well as the legal, business, and ethical implications of those transactions," says Johnson.

Prof. Johnson teaches and writes about corporate and securities law.  His scholarship and expert testimony have been employed in several high profile corporate lawsuits in recent years, including the nation's largest stock options backdating case and a case brought by shareholders of the Walt Disney Company for the way their Board of Directors handled the hiring and firing of Michael Ovitz. In addition, he has filed amicus briefs in three recent U.S. Supreme Court cases involving corporate disclosures and shareholder rights.

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