Business law at Akron Law

BUSINESS LAW

The Greater Akron area is home to more than 150 of the Fortune 500 companies. As such, we have made Business Law a priority.

In fact, Akron Law’s expert business law professors provide you with the training needed to skillfully represent corporations or land an exciting job in the business world. Our graduates serve as outside legal counsel for businesses and work as in-house counsel for companies both large and small. 

Virtually every lawyer in any size practice will handle business matters, ranging from drafting a partnership agreement to creating an LLC to advising on contracts and property acquisitions.

For those students who do not necessarily intend on “practicing” law, the acquisition of a juris doctor degree can enhance your opportunities and accelerate your advancement in the corporate world. Our alumni have utilized an Akron Law degree as a springboard to successful careers in management, finance, energy, corporate compliance, human resources, international business, and a variety of industries across the United States and around the world. 

With the specialized training and superior analytical skills you can obtain at Akron Law, you can rise to major leadership positions in the business world

Courses that give you an edge

Distinguish yourself at Akron through our strong foundational courses and our wide range of advanced training activities.  Also, you can gain hands-on practical experience through our Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development Clinic (SEED Clinic) to represent actual clients as you create and advise new businesses.  

Increase your competitive advantage with one of our joint degree programs with the College of Business Administration including a J.D./M.B.A. degree, J.D./Master's in Financial Forensics, and J.D./Master's of Taxation. You can also complement your business law training with our extensive lineup of Intellectual Property courses. In today’s business world, intellectual property plays a crucial role in the success of any corporation.

In addition to training in the classroom, many of our students land internships or work full-time with companies during their time at Akron Law.


Business law experts

Distinguish yourself at Akron Law. Take advantage of the depth of business law expertise on our faculty.

Matthew J. Wilson, PresidentBio

President Wilson has 25 years of international experience in business and law in the United States, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. He lived in Asia for over half of this time, and is fluent in Japanese. President Wilson specializes in international business law, intellectual property law, international dispute resolution, comparative law, and Japanese law. He is an expert on international negotiations, and has taught this subject around the world. He is one of the most renowned speakers in the world on combining a career in the law with international interests.

Patrick H. Gaughan, Associate Professor of Law  |  Bio

Professor Gaughan is the executive director of the Innovation Practice Center. After several years as an insurance, commercial and business lawyer in two major Cleveland firms, he became extensively engaged in business.  Among other things, he organized an investors group to take over and revive a struggling company.  These efforts resulted in an award for small business excellence in April 2008. He also has extensive experience in both startups and business recoveries. He teaches Entrepreneurship, among other courses, and has continued close involvement with the Youngstown Business Incubator.

Willa E. Gibson, Dean’s Club Professor of Law Bio

After several years in the banking industry and at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Prof. Gibson brought her extensive experience to Akron Law where she teaches Secured Transactions, Banking Law, Antitrust Law, Corporations, Consumer Law, and Contracts. She has written extensively on issues of economic efficiency of investment securities' priority rules in Article 8 and 9 of Uniform Commercial Code securities regulation, over-the-counter derivatives transactions, and hedge fund investments.

Richard Lavoie, Dean's Club Professor of Law | Bio

Prof. Lavoie is a nationally known expert on tax law, with a decade of experience in tax and business litigation at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in New York City. He was among the founding teaching staff in the Graduate Tax LLM Program at Northwestern University School of Law and has taught at the University of Texas, Washburn University, and Syracuse University School of Law. He has published extensively on business ethics and tax. A very well regarded teacher, he has taught a wide range of courses, from the core of Corporations and Payment Systems to more advanced courses such as Executive Compensation and Regulation of Financial Intermediaries.

Stefan J. Padfield, Professor of Law | Bio

Professor Padfield brings extensive personal business experience to Akron Law.  Not only does he have extensive experience in the insurance business, but he has also served as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army and a corporate law associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York City. He teaches the foundational business courses of Basic Business Associations and Corporations, as well as the more advanced Securities Regulation and Mergers and Acquisitions. He is also a leading commentator and blogger on issues of corporate theory and socioeconomics.

Gary Spring, Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the SEED Clinic | Bio

After more than two decades of complex business law practice, Prof. Spring turned to teaching. While in practice, he taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Akron before teaching as a Visiting Professor at Rutgers-Newark School of Law (where he was Prof. of the Year) and the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He brought his business law practice expertise to the University of Akron as Dir. of the Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development (SEED) Clinic, in which students represent actual business clients seeking the advice and counsel necessary to establish their businesses. Prof. Spring is also responsible for placing our students in externships throughout the region, and in some cases beyond. He will be a source of excellent contacts with potential employers.

Carolyn L. Dessin, Aileen McMurray Trusler Professor of Law  | Bio

After several years of experience at the large law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Philadelphia, Professor Dessin began her teaching career, in which she has specialized in Income Tax, Sales under the Uniform Commercial Code, Elder Law, and Decedents’ Estates. She has written extensively about Sales and Elder Abuse.

John (Jack) P. Sahl, Joseph G. Miller Professor of Law and Director of The Joseph G. Miller and William c. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility | Bio  

Professor Sahl is a frequent national and international speaker, consultant, teacher, and expert witness. He has served as a visiting professor at the CEIDA Institute in Rome, Italy. He teaches and has extensive experience in the areas of Entertainment Law and Sports Law. He recently co-edited a new casebook on Sports Law.


Business offerings

Core business courses

  • Basic Business Associations
  • Corporations
  • Legal Drafting – Contracts
  • Accounting & Finance for Lawyers
  • Individual Tax
  • Business Planning
  • Payment Systems
  • Secured Transactions
  • Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development Clinic (SEED Clinic)

Specialized business courses

  • Antitrust
  • Bankruptcy
  • Banking Law
  • Corporate Tax I
  • Corporate Tax II
  • Global Tort Law
  • Human Resources Law
  • International Commercial Arbitration
  • International Contracting Strategies
  • International negotiations
  • Securities Regulation
  • International Business Transactions
  • International Trade

Additional courses recommended for business

  • Administrative Law
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Immigration Law
  • Land Use Planning
  • Local Government Law
  • Negotiation
  • Intellectual Property Courses
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Entertainment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Labor Law
  • Law Firm Administration
  • Real Estate Law
  • Sports Law