By Harvey Perlman, J.D.
Notorious for sharing his “Perls of Knowledge,” Harvey Perlman led the university as chancellor from 2001 to 2016. Named the Harvey and Susan Perlman Alumni Professor of Law, he also served as dean of the Nebraska College of Law from 1983 to 1998 and as assistant professor of law from 1967 to 1974. He currently serves as a commissioner representing Nebraska on the Uniform Law Commission, a member of the Council of the American Law Institute and a senior consultant to the Roundtable of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters.
The College of Business and the College of Law established a law and business minor at the undergraduate level. Its purpose is not to produce more lawyers but rather to give business students more understanding and comfort as they pursue careers in a legal environment.
I am teaching the first course in that program primarily focused on the common law – the law judges largely make themselves. However, to do this, I felt I should initially explore the context of judicial decision-making by contrasting it with legislative and executive action. We explore the law of torts, contracts and property – three areas of the common law – with primary attention to cases that arise in a business context.
Throughout the course, we note the judicial process so students understand the methods courts use to arrive at their decisions. The course ends with a few cases on the role of lawyers – their professional obligations of confidentiality, their need to avoid conflicts and their duty to the courts interact with their obligations to their clients.
Our hope is students taking this minor will better understand the nature and limits of the law and perhaps more importantly, the signals that suggest when they had better get legal advice. The class gives students a taste of law school.
After struggling all summer considering how my teaching methods should adjust to undergraduates, I finally gave up and decided to let them try to adjust to me! I’m too old for change. So far no one has dropped the course!
Aside from Professor Perlman’s general enthusiasm for law, I like how he relates most concepts to real-world examples. I plan on attending law school and this course has been very interesting and relevant to my future career.
"Aside from Professor Perlman’s general enthusiasm for law, I like how he relates most concepts to real-world examples. I plan on attending law school and this course has been very interesting and relevant to my future career."
Junior Finance Major with Minors in Economics and Law and Business from Rapid City, South Dakota