Degrees to tie business, law

A joint school effort is in the works to form two master’s programs focused on the intersection of business and law in federal contracting.

The GW Law School and the GW School of Business will team up to prepare students for careers linking the federal government to supplies, services or research through a new master’s of business administration in federal contracting as well as a joint master’s in federal contracting.

As an extension of the law school’s government procurement program, which focuses solely on the legal side of federal contracting, the dual degree will target business people “who want to learn both business principles and the background law in government contracting,” law school dean Paul Schiff Berman said.

Hatchet File Photo
GW Law School Dean Paul Schiff Berman

Government contractors are private companies that produce goods or services by contract for the federal government, making them subject to federal laws and regulations.

Administrators in the two schools have been meeting with representatives from industry leaders such as Boeing, Microsoft and Lockheed Martin, to decide the best way to organize the curriculum, Berman said.

“We would be offering a combination of business finance information and law information in an integrated package, which the industry leaders saw as an innovative and exciting program that they would want their middle and upper managers to have,” Berman said.

Berman declined to provide a budget estimate for the program, but said he hoped that it would pay for itself through tuition revenue.

Doug Guthrie, dean of the business school, called the joint program a great opportunity for rising business executives to gain expertise from the law school’s already established government procurement program, which is often ranked among the top in the country for that field.

“There are a lot of people in Washington who would like to get that same set of knowledge and skill who don’t have a law degree,” Guthrie said. “It’s a natural fit for us to be working with the law school.”

Though the program will be offered through the business school, a number of law school faculty will also teach courses. Interdisciplinary work has become a recent focus at GW, appearing recently in health care-focused education.

“We view this as a groundbreaking opportunity to take advantage of GW’s strengths in law and business, in an industry segment – federal contracting – whose importance has grown rapidly, and now accounts for well over half a trillion dollars of taxpayer funds each year,” Associate Dean for Government Procurement Law Daniel Gordon, who will coordinate the program from the law school side.

Gordon, who assumed his newly created position in the law school last month after two years as an administrator for federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget, has taken on the planning process as one of his top priorities.

“The result should be a program that bridges the gap between law and business, as well as between academia and the world of practice,” Gordon said.

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