UVA course teaches students about how BigLaw is run

University of Virginia law students are learning about how to create and manage a big law firm, thanks to a new course taught by a partner at a large law firm. 

Art Robinson, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is teaching the course over the course of four weekends this spring. Management of Big Law: Balancing Culture and Profit tasks students with deciding every aspect of their firm’s management — from location, to area of specialization, to compensation structure. The unique format of the class allows students to learn the inner workings of the firms they will soon join.

Robinson is global head of the Capital Markets practice at Simpson Thacher, as well as a member of the Executive Committee and former chairman of the Business Development Committee at the firm. 

“The class is designed to educate the students about the environment in which they’re going to be entering as a new associate,” said Robinson, who is based in New York. “And as an associate, you tend to look at things from an associate perspective, and it takes time in any environment to get up to speed and learn the culture. The course aims to accelerate that process so that when students join their firms — whether it’s a national law firm, a global law firm, or a niche firm — they are able to think a bit more like the management committee of a law firm and be better equipped to understand context, variables and other considerations in their firm’s decision-making process.” 

One of the first classes focused on the different compensation structures, such as lockstep (in which compensation is based on seniority), modified lockstep and more variable structures.