Calculator and papers, by Rawpixel via Unsplash

There was a surprising—but welcome—addition to the Faculty’s course schedule this fall. As an experiment, the Faculty of Law brought Accounting for Management, a non-law elective course, to Chancellor Day Hall, offering law students a convenient opportunity to learn to read and understand financial statements.

As the legal profession rapidly evolves around the world, more and more law alumni share that they wish they had been much more financially literate when they entered the job market. A recent feature by Lexpert reinforced their point by highlighting how employers highly value business and financial skills in young lawyers, as such interdisciplinary knowledge will help them better understand their clients and become more trusted advisers.

Bringing numbers closer to home

For the first time, this fall law students had the opportunity to sign up for a non-law elective course in accounting just as easily as they could enroll in any law course. Offered by McGill’s School of Continuing Studies, the Accounting for Management course is designed for students who will not become accountants, but who want to acquire a solid understanding of financial statements and budgets. “By the end [of the course] , students will be able to interpret financial statements and financial results which will help them identify problems and find ways to improve those results. Students will also be able to identify a successful business from a struggling one, and be able to make informed decisions based on financial information”, course instructor Riccardo Zerbino said.

While the course has been offered for years and was available to law students ready to hike across campus and take a night class, it wasn’t an obvious option to them. The class is offered in a room in Chancellor Day Hall as part of the Faculty’s standard timetable, eliminating scheduling challenges.

A relevant investment in many areas

“The course may strike students as especially relevant if they see themselves going into corporate law or business, but its relevance reaches much further,” Dean Robert Leckey highlighted. “Litigators often need to understand a party’s financial situation. And, whatever their day job, many McGill Law alumni serve on boards of directors, be it in the profit or not-for-profit sectors, where it’s essential to understand financial statements and budgets,” he said.

If this pilot project succeeds, the Faculty hopes to repeat the offer in upcoming years.