Back to (Business) School

Ah, September. The leaves are falling, the air is crisp and most of us feel motivated to learn something new.

Stanford University offers several online learning options for lawyers and legal professionals* interested in sharpening their business skills, especially in the areas of entrepreneurialism and innovation. The videos and podcasts in their Entrepreneurship Corner are professionally produced, available for view at any time and presented by top faculty from several departments. I’ve especially enjoyed the interviews with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs such as Mitch Kapor who talk about lessons learned, developing “people skills” and learning to be comfortable with business risk.

Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner

If you’re looking for structured learning about business growth, you might take advantage “Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up” with Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao, which starts on Sept. 15. Offered by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, this is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). There are no prerequisites. And it’s free. Where else could you learn from two acclaimed professors, watch interviews with successful entrepreneurs and participate with fellow students from around the globe from the comfort of your desk or laptop? Students will be expected to complete reading and homework assignments that relate to their current business issue.

Scaling Up Your Venture

There isn’t one way to practice law and there isn’t one way to learn. Thankfully, universities – which, like law firms, are under pressure to innovate in response to societal and economic changes – are offering a variety of creative options to access their services. This exposes them to new markets and generates value at the same time.

The more business skills that lawyers have, the better equipped the profession will be to anticipate and address adjustments necessary to thrive. If you know of similar online courses that would be relevant to lawyers in private practice, please refer to them in the comments below. It would be especially useful to have a Canadian resource listed here.

*None of the Stanford offerings are customized for law firms. They won’t qualify for CPD credit, either. If you’re interested in accessing high calibre business academics, the options listed above might be worth investigating.