Business Strategy for Lawyers

Amitai Aviram

Spring 2013




Learning Objectives: Most business law classes teach students about law, not about business: how to tell, in a given industry, which businesses compete with which and over what, what are their competitive advantages, opportunities or threats.  Yet understanding the answers to these questions is essential to knowing your corporate client’s interests.


This course introduces students to principles and techniques of evaluating the competitive structure of a market.  It will give you the tools to understand what makes an industry tick.  Such analysis is the bread and butter of an antitrust lawyer’s work, but it is also useful to any practitioner who represents businesses.


The course combines theory with practice.  To enhance students’ practical skills, the course includes simulations, in which students research (before class) and analyze (in class) a given market or the effect of hypothetical transactions in that market.  The last segment of the course will be case studies: each student will present to the class some aspects of a market of her/his choice that apply the analytical tools we studied in the course.  At the end of the course, each student will need to submit a report analyzing a market of her/his choice.  Grades in this course are based on the quality of the report, with possible adjustment for class participation.


There are no prerequisites to this course; prior knowledge of business associations law or of economics is not required.  The course is related to the economics of antitrust, so having taken antitrust would make you familiar with some concepts addressed in this course (and conversely, having taken Business Strategy would make some concepts in antitrust law more familiar).


Reaching Me: The best way to contact me is by e-mail, at:  You are also welcome to meet with me at my office.  Simply send me an e-mail suggesting days/times that are more convenient to you and we will find a mutually convenient time to meet. Do not be shy about scheduling a meeting to clarify something that you did not understand in class.  If, despite having read the assigned material and attending class, you are puzzled about some issue that was discussed in class, it is perfectly appropriate for you to schedule a meeting so that I can (hopefully) make things clearer.  Out-of-class discussion affords me the luxury of focusing on your individual questions or concerns.


Grading: Grades will be determined by the quality of the market analysis report submitted by the student, adjusted up to one grade point up and without limit down (i.e., as low as an F) for student participation (e.g., attendance & participation in class discussion, participation in team activities).


Report: Each student will research and write a report analyzing a market of her/his choice. A market can be as large as global crude oil production or as small as fast food restaurants in Champaign-Urbana, as long as it is a properly defined market (we will learn how to define markets in the course). The report must be submitted by April 26, by e-mail, to: Please note that because the reports are not research papers, they do not ordinarily qualify for the Upper Level Writing Requirement (ULWR).


You will benefit from access to reports of past students in this course, who agreed to share their reports with you.  To assist future students, I will assume that you agree to make your report available to future students unless you say otherwise on the first page of your report.  Whether you agree to share your report with future students or not will not have any effect on your grade.


Required text: The required text for the course is the course materials packet that I will make available to you on the law school’s course page, about a week before classes begin.  You do not need to buy any texts.  For the first week’s classes, please read pages 4-20 in the materials packet (Section 1a2 - What is business strategy?), which will be available on the law school’s course webpage.


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