Anirban Basu was about 30 years old and looking for a career change when he enrolled in the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Though he had already begun establishing himself as a respected consultant on economic development, he said, “I was going to become a practicing attorney.”
But a funny thing happened on his way out of the world of entrepreneurship.
“The School of Law education was so good that, as I was starting my studies, my consulting career took off,” said Basu, who founded Sage Policy Group, Inc. in 2004, the year after he received his JD. These days Basu is quoted widely and frequently in the media as an economic expert, and has clients in 30 states and four countries.
When he enrolled, Basu already had the academic credentials to be a fine consultant: a B.S. from Georgetown, a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a Master’s in Economics from UM College Park. But studying business law deepened his understanding of the rules and the tools for doing business, helped him write better contracts, and gave him an advantage in support of clients facing litigation.
“The business lawyer is an interdisciplinary professional,” said Professor Robert Rhee, co-director of UM Carey Law’s Business Law Program. “It’s important that lawyers are flexible in skills and outlook, and should be adaptive to changing environments.”
Maybe even more importantly, Basu said, his legal education at UM Carey Law helped him recognize ethical perils while he still had time to avoid them. “The law school gave me the ability to segment people with good intentions from people with not-so-good intentions,” he said. “We just don’t have the time to take on clients that are not going to pay us, or increase the scope of a project.”
The footprint of UM Carey Law in Maryland’s judicial, public service, public policy, and private practice sectors is well established. But Basu said the School’s business law program will produce the attorneys who turn Baltimore’s business community from a Washington focus to one oriented all the way from Boston to Atlanta. And as Maryland becomes even more globally connected, “The University of Maryland School of Law will be a big part of that.”
As part of UM Carey Law’s commitment to the region’s business community, the School presents “An Evening of Entrepreneurship with MSNBC’s JJ Ramberg,” on April 9. Delivering The Norman P. Ramsey Lecture, Ramberg – an entrepreneur and author – will present advice including human resources, finance, public relations and sales. Registration for the free event is at the School’s website.
Michelle Harner, the other co-director of the Business Law Program, said the global approach is by design, and is integrated into the curriculum. “We emphasize the importance of lawyers understanding their clients’ businesses, and the environments in which they operate. This aspect of our students’ education is enhanced by our increasingly interdisciplinary and global approach to legal education.”
When it comes to his legal education, Basu is both a believer and an evangelist. Of all the prestigious schools he’s attended, he said, “I’m most loyal to the University of Maryland School of Law.”