Law At Sloan
Interested in a Sloan law course?
We have put this site together to provide information we think will be helpful if you are trying to decide whether to take a Sloan law course, and if so, which one.
WHAT COURSES ARE OFFERED?
In a typical year, the law curriculum offered by Sloan-based instructors consists of four courses offered each Fall by John Akula and Lou Rodriques; the same four courses offered each Spring; and an IAP course on Patent Law offered each January by Jeff Meldman.
While we do not expect any changes, you should double-check to make sure the particular course you are interested in is in fact being offered and at the usual time.
THE FOUR COURSES OFFERED EACH FALL AND SPRING ARE:
15.615/6151. Essential Law for Business (a.k.a. the “Business Essentials” course)
Instructors: John Akula and Lou Rodriques. 9 units. Letter-graded. Is the most broad-gauged and covers the most material, including: Negotiating and managing contracts and doing business online. Liability of companies and managers, and minimizing the risk. Regulatory compliance, criminal sanctions, and staying out of trouble. Law-sensitive issues in managing a workforce and navigating critical junctures in your career. Complex deals, including M&A and venture capital. Financial distress and markets for distressed assets. Cutting-edge technologies and IP rights in software and other innovations. AI and big data, including fintech, privacy, bias and cybersecurity. Provides the strongest foundation for a career involving transactions, finance, or general management in young and mature companies.
In a typical semester, meets for the full semester Mon/Wed 8:30-10am
For more details, click here for a recent syllabus: 15.615/6151 Essential Law for Business
15.618/6181. Startups and the Law (a.k.a. the “Startups” course)
Instructor: John Akula. 6 units. P/D/F. Covers the key law-sensitive issues common to the life-cycles of innovation-driven startups. Organizing the new venture. Angel financing. The role of patents, copyright, and trade secrets in developing a technology strategy. The division of IP rights between companies and individual innovators. Building and managing the workforce. Navigating critical junctures in an entrepreneurial career, such as leaving an established company to launch a competing venture. Managing the risk of liability to the venture and to the entrepreneur. The venture capital deal. Selling the venture. Managing financial distress. Winding down a failing venture and avoiding personal liability. Students considering launching a venture or working in the startup world, or working with a new technology with commercial potential, will find this course of special value.
In a typical semester meets for the full semester one evening a week, 7-8:30pm.
For more details, click here for a recent syllabus: 15.618/6181 Startups and the Law
15.621. Your Career and the Law: Key Junctures, Opportunities and Risks (a.k.a. the “Careers” course)
Instructors: Lou Rodriques and John Akula. 6 units. P/D/F. Critical law-sensitive issues in your career, including: The true meaning of offer letters and employment “At will.” How to interpret agreements on non-competition, non-disclosure and invention assignment. Minimizing the legal risks in leaving a job to join or launch a competing venture. Startup employment issues, including minimum wage regulation and managerial responsibility for company lapses. Discrimination & harassment, and how cases are proven and defended. Hiring & firing, from the perspectives of the company and the employee. Managing the risks of personal liability from commercial obligations, wrongful conduct, and regulatory non-compliance.
In a typical semester meets twice a week, Mon/Wed 4-5:30pm, for half of the semester. In the Fall, it meets in H2 (the second half of the semester); and in the Spring it meets in H3 (the first half of the semester).
For more details, click here for a recent syllabus: 15.621 Your Career and the Law: Key Junctures, Opportunities and Risks
15.622/6221. The Law of AI, Big Data and Social Media; and other Digital Tech Hot Spots (a.k.a. the “Digital Tech” course)
Instructors: John Akula and Lou Rodriques. 6 units. P/D/F. A deep dive into the increasingly robust legal response to innovations and applications involving AI, data science, social media, and related developments. Privacy. Cybersecurity. Algorithmic bias. Medical devices and healthtech. Fintech, including crypto assets, payment systems, robo-advisors and smart contracts. Liability for injuries and autonomous vehicles. Intellectual property rights in software and data. The division of IP rights between companies and individual innovators. Critical junctures in careers built upon cutting-edge analytic skills. The digital workplace. The rules on fair competition and fair dealing in digital markets. The responsibilities of digital platforms for mischievous content. Planning a venture or career built upon cutting-edge skills in this area? – This course is designed for you.
In a typical semester meets for the full semester one evening a week, 7-8:30pm.
For more details, click here for a recent syllabus: 15.622/6221 The Law of AI, Big Data & Social Media; and Other Digital Tech Hot Spots
THE JANUARY IAP COURSE:
15.620. Patent Law Fundamentals
Instructor: Jeff Meldman 3 units. P/D/F. For graduates and undergraduates. Can be taken for credit, but Listeners also welcome. Intensive introduction to the basic provisions of U.S. patent law, emphasizing the legal requirements for patentability and the legal process of applying for a patent. Technology licensing by universities. Disputes over infringement and validity. A quick look at other forms of intellectual property.
For more details, click here for a recent syllabus: 15.620 Patent Law Fundamentals
HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT COURSE FOR YOU
The four courses offered each semester have the same overarching goal: To provide the understanding you will need to successfully navigate the law-sensitive risks and opportunities you will confront as you lead and manage your organization and pursue your career. Both John and Lou were for much of their professional lives practicing attorneys, and we like to think this gives all of our courses a practical and realistic tilt.
There are no prerequisites for any of the law courses. There is no expectation that you already have any understanding of law – whatever you need to know, we will explain.
These four courses are designed as an array of choices, and not a sequence. We try to include in every course certain fundamental materials essential to effective management. One consequence is that there is some overlapping material in all of the courses. You might want to first choose the one course with the “tilt” that most fits your plans. If you want to take a second law course, that is fine, but you should check the syllabus to assess overlap. If there is overlap, you might want to consider the “Listener” option for that second course (see below for our Listener policy), and focus your attention on the non-duplicative material.
Jeff’s IAP course is different: It is a focused deep dive into patent law, and any student with a strong interest in patents should consider taking it.
WHAT IF ENGLISH IS YOUR SECOND LANGUAGE?
The law has its own terminology. But the readings and deliverables are designed to be ESL-friendly. Many ESL students enroll and do well.
WHAT IF YOU ARE NOT IN A SLOAN MBA PROGRAM? WHAT IF YOU ARE FROM SCIENCE OR ENGINEERING, OR AN UNDERGRAD? WHAT IF YOU SKIPPED SLOAN BIDDING?
MBA Sloanies are generally in the majority in these courses. But these courses are designed for all MIT students. No prior knowledge of law or business is expected. There is generally strong enrollment from the science and engineering side of campus. Undergraduates are welcome in all the courses, and there is also substantial undergraduate enrollment. There is no undergraduate listing for Careers, but only because of the meeting time; undergraduates are welcome in that course as well.
Students who use Sloan bidding have priority, and these courses sometimes fill up in the bidding process. But all the classrooms are large, and given the usual beginning-of-the-semester shuffling, it is rare that any interested MIT student who shows up for a class gets turned away, even after skipping Sloan bidding.
WHAT IF YOU WANT TO BE A LISTENER?
Sorry. For the regular semester courses, there is a No-Listener policy for students enrolled in any degree program, unless you are taking a second Sloan-based law course, or the course is P/D/F and your program does not allow P/D/F courses to be credited to your degree. If you are not in a degree program, Listener status is OK. And Listeners are welcome in Jeff’s IAP Patent Law course.
WHAT IF YOU WANT TO JOIN A COURSE LATE?
Consistent attendance is essential in all the law courses. But arrangements will be made for late-arrivers to view videos of missed sessions.
WHO ARE THE INSTRUCTORS?
IF YOU STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
Feel free to reach out to us with any further questions.