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September 17, 2021

Colleges of Business, Law Launch New Business and Law Major

New Major Addresses Critical Talent Shortages for Jobs Not Requiring a Juris Doctor
Colleges of Business, Law Launch New Business and Law Major
The new business and law major at Nebraska offers students an interdisciplinary education in which they gain foundational legal knowledge to better solve business challenges. Graduates will be prepared to fill roles in multiple growing fields requiring some legal knowledge but not a juris doctor. Photo taken prior to the current Lincoln/Lancaster County mask mandate.

The College of Business and the College of Law partnered to provide additional career opportunities for University of Nebraska–Lincoln students by launching a business and law major this fall. The undergraduate major builds off the successful law and business minor first offered in the fall of 2018.

“This new interdisciplinary major utilizes courses developed and taught by the colleges of law, arts and sciences, and business. Business and law students will be able to solve critical challenges in Nebraska and beyond by understanding the fundamentals of law in the context of business,” said Dr. Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business.

Courses build students’ familiarity with legal concepts for jobs that do not require a juris doctor but require some knowledge of the law.

“Understanding how the law works and how lawyers think enable professionals to solve problems and minimize legal risk,” said Richard Moberly, dean of Nebraska Law. “I’m excited that faculty from the College of Law and our colleagues in the College of Business will work together to educate our future business leaders.”

Designed to expand students’ employment possibilities, it also helps meet employer demand in growing fields such as regulatory compliance, financial services, securities regulation and corporate social responsibility.

“The law and business major sends a powerful message to both current and prospective students regarding the college’s focus on offering cutting-edge programs that enhance their marketability,” said Angie Muhleisen, president and CEO of Union Bank and Trust. “At UBT, we are always looking for talent, and I believe graduates with the new business and law major will be highly competitive for positions in regulatory compliance, real estate, human resources, among other functional areas.”

The major came about after Muhleisen, former chair of the College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board, and other board members voiced concern about a critical shortage of mid- and senior-level managers with strong business skills who also understand legal implications and regulatory constraints. The board enables the college to hear and address employer feedback and is comprised of representatives from many of the state’s largest and most influential businesses.

“Position descriptions for non-attorney jobs listing legal knowledge as a qualification have dramatically increased with tens of thousands of jobs currently posted on national job sites like Indeed.com,” said Dr. Donna Dudney, associate professor of finance. “The board’s feedback and our market research point to the critical role this major will play in leading the future of business.”

The undergraduate major will make Nebraska one of a few universities in the nation to help address the shortage of talent. Graduates will also be better prepared for common business decisions like hiring and terminating employees.

“Combining business knowledge with an in-depth understanding of law, the judicial system, the legislative process and the regulatory environment provides an educational opportunity that makes business and law graduates attractive to a wide-range of employers,” said Jeff Noordhoek, ’88, CEO at Nelnet. “The elective courses allow students to select a specific area of expertise that aligns with their interests and professional goals, such as international law, civil liberties law, real estate finance and environmental law."

The major requires 24 hours of business and law coursework beyond the College of Business’ core classes. The business and law major includes 15 credit hours taught by College of Law faculty and 9 credit hours of elective courses. The College of Business anticipates the business and law major will commonly be paired with another major for a dual degree.

“I can speak to the value of this degree from personal experience. While I have degrees in engineering and business, much of my work involves legal issues,” said Jon Panzer, ’89, senior vice president of strategic planning at Union Pacific. “The one business law course I took in graduate school was of great value, but it didn’t adequately prepare me for the broad range of legal topics I must navigate. Looking back, I wish I had the opportunity to develop more robust legal skills while in school. Instead, I had to learn foundational legal concepts in a piecemeal fashion over time.”

The business and law major best suits those who are not interested in being attorneys as it does not replace the skills and knowledge cultivated by attending law school.

“Pre-law students at Nebraska who do not have an interest in working in business will continue to be best served by our law and business 12-credit-hour minor. This way they can take advantage of taking law-related classes as an undergraduate but won’t have to complete the 44 credit hours of supporting business coursework required for the business and law major,” said Dudney. "However, pre-law students interested in business or running their own practice one day should consider the major."

Current students can declare the new major for the fall of 2022, but do not need to wait until then to determine the appropriate way to schedule classes. Schedule an appointment with a College of Business academic adviser in MyPLAN to begin the process of completing the appropriate coursework for the major. Future Huskers can declare their major as part of the undergraduate application process.

“There’s no need to wait or fill out additional applications,” said Dean Farrell. “We’re unique among other Big Ten schools in the fact that once you’re enrolled, you can start right away. You'll follow a course sequence that includes university's general education courses, business classes and then courses taught by College of Law faculty beginning in your junior year that require a 3.25 cumulative GPA."

To learn more about the business and law major, visit: https://business.unl.edu/businesslaw. Future business undergraduates can learn more about the College of Business at: https://business.unl.edu/futureugrad.