FALL 2000 ISSUE

Journal Home

Penn Law Home

There is an experiment being conducted at the Law School this Fall that has every indication of being not only a rousing success, but also the first in many collaborations between affiliated schools of the University of Pennsylvania.

When students of Professor Edward Rubin's course in e-commerce arrive they will learn that the class is co-taught with a Wharton professor and the classroom will be chock-full with Wharton MBA students. A very enthusiastic Rubin explains that the course "is going to join the fields and the methodology. Legal education has been slow to innovate in methodological terms. We're still in the mode of teaching in a passive learning dynamic - questions and answers. But in most graduate programs, including business and medicine, they're trying to move beyond that to a more hands-on experiential way to learn."

Rubin's co-instructor will be Dan Hunter, a law professor from Melbourne, Australia, who is a new faculty member in the legal studies department at Wharton. He has published and taught in the areas of e-commerce regulation, high technology intellectual property, and artificial intelligence and law. "This course is going to be really interesting," the former Cambridge and University of Melbourne law professor says. "The potential mix between the students will be wonderful."

This year while co-teaching his popular course Managing the Future (an examination of recent developments in technology that promise to transform the way in which we live and our identity as human beings) with Associate Professor Peter Huang, Rubin started to brainstorm about creating a spin-off that would specifically address e-commerce. "I learned that Dan Hunter was coming to Wharton and I contacted him to find out what he was planning to teach. Consequently, I proposed this joint teaching opportunity to him," says Rubin.

Together Rubin and Hunter have structured the course following the business plan model that is the standard at Wharton. Central to this method is the use of simulations, a novel approach when utilized in law schools having followed the case study model for decades. The professors will break the class into groups of three or four and charge them with working on a problem that involves e-commerce. Rubin will address the legal component in business transactions.

Anticipating a 3-to-1 ratio of Wharton to Law students, each "team" will comprise business students with a law student "attached" as legal counsel. Each team lawyer will provide the group with legal advice and translate some of the team's conclusions into legal terms, as well as participate in the business part of the process. "It's a very real-world kind of situation," Rubin explains. "Typically lawyers work with a team of non-lawyers on a business deal."