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June 6, 2017

UMaine Law aims to help non-lawyers navigate the regulatory landscape

Photo / Renee Cordes
Photo / Renee Cordes
Dean Danielle M. Conway of UMaine Law School has staffed the school's two certificate programs with "professors of practice."
Photo / Renee Cordes
A view of the University of Maine School of Law building in Portland.

Interested in learning about regulatory compliance without going to law school?

Starting this July, the University of Maine School of Law aims to help entry- to mid-career professionals in business, nonprofits and government navigate the regulatory environment through a new certificate program.

"The innovative part of this, is that it's geared towards a non law school professional," Danielle M. Conway, dean of UMaine Law, told Mainebiz.

While the summer pilot will start with two classes taught over two weeks, those wanting to pursue the full certificate can take two further courses in the fall and two next spring.

"In essence the investment is literally six weeks, but that investment is intensive," she noted.

The summer session, to run from July 10-13 and July 17-20, will feature two courses: administrative law and regulation, taught by UMaine visiting professor Jeff Thaler, and an introduction and overview to regulatory compliance taught by Andrew Kaufman, of counsel to Kirkland & Ellis law firm in Chicago. Kaufman has been with UMaine Law School since last fall teaching advanced business associations and an advanced commercial law practicum.

"We want executives and managers to be coming to this," Thaler told Mainebiz. "They're the ones on the front lines who are responsible for trying to keep up with the avalanche of new laws and regulations" in areas such as finance, health care, environment, energy and drugs.

"The list of [regulatory] agencies is just never ending," he said, adding, "It's virtually impossible to get up in the morning and go through the first hour of the day without at least 20 different agencies impacting what you want to do."

Thaler said the aim is to make the courses as practical as possible, to help participants think pro-actively and preventatively about compliance — "preventative in the sense of making sure your coworkers, subordinates and superiors are also knowledgeable enough of what their obligations are."

From a teaching standpoint, Thaler said he and Kaufman would be careful "not to over-lawyer or over-jargon" the coursework, and to take a practical, interactive approach.

Thaler added: "We do not want to run this like seminars where people sit in the back of the room. This is going to be a combination of providing information but also using case studies and simulations to get people to interact and learn from each other and get experience in dealing with different types of situations." Ideally, he said the program would start small with 10 to 12 participants this summer.

Through the program, UMaine hopes to build on the success of its year-old privacy law certificate program for its law students. Out of 80 people in the class that just graduated, five received certificates in the burgeoning field.

UMaine Law, the state's only law school, has staffed both certificate programs with a new category of adjunct, non-tenure track professors.

"We like to call them professors of practice," Conway explained. "It signals they're bringing experience from industry into the educational environment."

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