The Washington Post President and General Manager Stephen Hills announced he will leave his post to assume a new position as founding director of the Georgetown University Law Center’s Business Skills Program, effective in January.
GULC Dean William Treanor said the new program will broaden the range of educational opportunities its students receive.
“One of the things that emerged from it is that we should be teaching students a broader range of competencies than just teaching them how to think like a lawyer,” Treanor said.
“We should be teaching them to understand accounting and finance. We should teach them project management. We should teach them a broader range of skills than is traditional of law school.”
Hills will work with law school faculty to develop a curriculum for the program, which will focus on teaching law students about the business sector, project management and organization. Any student enrolled in the law school is eligible to participate in January.
“It’s really about trying to understand what business is really like, not just taking a full course in accounting or a full course in mergers and acquisitions,” Hills said. “A survey course, an overview of this, [will] try to prepare law students for either a career in business, a career in business law or to be a lawyer running a firm and to deal with actually managing a business.”
Hills added that experiences from his 28-year tenure at The Washington Post have influenced the broader themes of the new program.
“There are lessons across the board in every discipline that can be learned about leadership, about innovation, about marketing, about finance organizational structure and behavior that, in the course of my Washington Post career, I really got to draw on,” Hills said.
Professors Peter Byrne, Naomi Mezey, Anna Gelpern, Jeff Bowman, Don Langevoort and Bob Thompson have been working with Hills throughout the development of the program.
Gelpern said the program aligns with Georgetown’s goal of preparing law students for a range of opportunities in the legal field.
“We’re not preparing folks with a particular set of skills for a limited set of occupations,” Gelpern said.
“We’re really preparing folks for leadership positions and a wide range of possibilities, and I think today it is especially important given the evolution of the legal marketplace. … Training in entrepreneurship is immensely important in any number of jobs.”
Gelpern added that she is hopeful the program will teach a mix of entrepreneurial skills with an experiential and practical focus.
“My hope for the program is that it is not just advanced business — that to me would not be the right way to use this opportunity,” Gelpern said. “I think it’s a way to take entrepreneurial skills broadly defined and combine them with the public-spiritedness of our institution, the policy focus, as well as our strength in business, finance and regulation.”
Treanor said GULC is also looking to add courses to the business skills curriculum as the program expands in addition to previous initiatives, such as offering a financial literacy boot camp taught by the McDonough School of Business faculty members and externship short courses.
“I think we’ll have more courses such as project management, organizational behavior, strategic planning that are offered at the law school,” Treanor said. “We’ll be thinking through how to take what are traditionally business school courses and adapting them for law students.”
Treanor added that the program may also prepare students for careers specifically in business law.
“It’s an innovative program; it’s not something that you see at other law schools,” Treanor said. “At a time of challenge in the legal profession, we think it responds to the needs that we have to prepare our students for their professional careers, so I could not be more excited about this program.”
Hills also said he is looking forward to his new career as a professor, which will allow him to interact with Georgetown students.
“I’m very excited. I think that Georgetown has got some of the best and brightest law students in the country, and so the idea to be able to spend time with people of that caliber is really exciting,” Hills said.
“A lot of what I’m going to hope for and look forward to is actually having the students teach each other because that to me is the best: a lot of participation, a lot of case study work, very few lectures.”