Management and Leadership

Essential Law for Executives: The MIT Advantage

Dates: Nov 20-21, 2014

Certificate Track: Management and Leadership

Participant Ratings


| 4.7


| 4.7


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| 4.6

The U.S. legal system and legal style are in many ways business friendly. The law can help you protect intellectual property and design an effective IP strategy, develop sound plans for new products and marketing technologies, build and retain a successful management team, and shape complicated transactions such as M&A and tailored financial products. But it is also hard-edged, complex, contentious, and poses many risks—such as disputes that cloud IP, consumer class-action litigation which can discredit a brand and impose massive damages, lawsuits by terminated or aggrieved employees, structured financial products that carry hidden risks, and heavy-handed government investigations and sanctions.

Effective management of such issues will sometimes require consulting a lawyer, and this program will discuss making good use of lawyers. But professional legal advice is not a substitute for your own informed judgment and leadership. The ability to navigate tricky legal waters is a powerful source of value for a company and an important competence for a manager. Errors in judgment can doom a business strategy, create liability both for you and your company, and cast a long shadow over a career.

This program will give you the tools you need to plan, manage, and lead in the key law-sensitive areas of your business.

The MIT Advantage:  Practical Advice for Innovative Companies
The view of law in this program is practical and hands-on. Faculty Director John Akula practiced law for 15 years, and was a partner at one of the top firms in the country when he returned to the academic world. He has been at the MIT Sloan School of Management for over a decade, working with students, managers, and companies. The materials in this course were developed in response to the distinctive concerns of these stakeholders. The program addresses the special legal challenges of innovation and cutting-edge technologies, and focuses on the needs of successful entrepreneurial managers, in new companies and established firms, whose responsibilities are broadening and who are confronting law-sensitive issues for which their experience and training may not have prepared them.



Program Experience
The program will mix quick lectures–laying out basic legal principles–with group discussions of realistic business opportunities and problems. Participants will be given additional materials to take home and further explore critical legal issues.

Join the MySloanExecEd Community Group for this program to network with past, present, and future participants.

You will leave this program better prepared to:

  • Protect yourself and your company from the risks of liability and litigation
  • Meet the special legal challenges of new technologies, products, marketing tools, and business models
  • Avoid regulatory problems, respond effectively to compliance concerns, and minimize the risk of criminal liability
  • Understand the key dimensions of transnational legal problems
  • Create, protect, and commercialize intellectual property including patents, software, and trade secrets
  • Negotiate and interpret contracts, including those relating to M&A and financial services and instruments
  • Understand the key legal options for resolving business disputes
  • Supervise employees, build and retain a successful management team, and plan for career transitions
  • Utilize lawyers and legal advice and manage legal costs

“I found this course more rewarding and fruitful than I hoped. It helped me understand the complexities of our legal system.”
Ian Pratt

Division Manager
Multi-Contact USA

"Akula is very engaging. He clearly displays his applied and academic knowledge—great balance of the two."
Daniel Newham

Cox Communications

“Great style and substance! This course was, by far, one of the most useful and best delivered courses I have taken.”
Elvis Clemetson
Global SAP/ERP Practice Director
Citrix Systems Inc.

Any manager in the U.S. with significant responsibility and an expanding leadership role would benefit from this program. One group for whom this course will be especially useful is managers who have strong technical expertise, but whose responsibilities have broadened beyond technical issues.

Many managers from outside the U.S. would also benefit. Foreign companies doing business in the U.S. must adapt to the U.S. legal system, and the U.S. legal style is a strong influence on transactions elsewhere—for example, in M&A and commercial finance.

The materials in this course have been found useful to managers from both young and established companies; and from the for-profit, not-for-profit, and public sectors.

Titles of potential participants may include, but are not limited to:

  • CEO
  • President
  • COO
  • CFO
  • Executive VP
  • Head of Research & Development; Engineering;
  • Manufacturing; and IS
  • Chief Technologist
  • Corporate Planner or Strategist
  • VP of Marketing & New Venture Development; Supply Chain Management; Human Resources
  • Other senior managers with business development responsibility


"In an increasingly complex legal landscape with proportionate liability exposure for companies and management, this is an excellent course that provides a framework of the key issues."
Hassan Basil Hassan
Associate General Counsel
GE Healthcare
United Arab Emirates

“The delivery was incredibly straightforward and useful. This was the best legal class I've taken, hands down.”
Adam Saavedra

Technical Manager
US Army Medical Department

07:45 AM - 08:30 AMRegistration and Continental Breakfast
08:30 AM - 12:30 PMWelcome and Introduction; Liability and Litigation; New Technologies and Business Models
12:30 PM - 01:30 PMLuncheon
01:30 PM - 05:00 PMRegulatory Compliance and Criminal Liability; Transnational Legal Issues
05:00 PM - 06:00 PMReception
07:45 AM - 08:30 AMContinental Breakfast
08:30 AM - 12:30 PMWelcome Back and Preview of Day 2; Intellectual Property; Contracts and Business Disputes
12:30 PM - 01:30 PMLuncheon
01:30 PM - 03:30 PMM&A; Financial Services and Instruments; Employment Law; Building and Supervising a Team; Career Transitions; Managing Lawyers; Summary and Looking Forward
  • Title: John Akula on Essential Law for Executives: The MIT Advantage (Part 2)

    Description: Professor John Akula discusses the importance of understanding criminal liability for managers. John is a faculty member at MIT Sloan Executive Education and teaches Essential Law for Executives: The MIT Advantage (formerly called Fundamentals of Law for the Technical Executive.)

  • Title: Professor John Akula on Essential Law for Executives: The MIT Advantage (Part 1)

    Description: John Akula discusses the importance of understanding legal accountability for managers. He teaches in Essential Law for Executives: The MIT Advantage (formerly Fundamentals of Law for the Technical Executive.)

  • Title: Participant Discussion: Mariusz Jedra on Essential Law for Executives

    Description: Participant Discussion: Mariusz Jedra on Essential Law for Executives.

  • Title: Social Media @ Work: Managing Risks and Opportunities with John Akula

    Description: This is the recording of the webinar that took place on November 1, 2012. Social media in the workplaceFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platformsis expanding at a dizzying pace. New technologies and business models have raced ahead, and the law is playing catch-up. Every day business managers face many new questions, often with legal implications, but find few clear answers. How should a manager approach risks and opportunities in this shifting, uncertain legal environment? John Akula, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan, explores key issues related to social media in the workplace. Check out his related 2-day program Essential Law for Executives: The MIT Advantage

  • Title: Business Crime: What To Do When the Law Pursues You

    Description: U.S. prosecutors are imposing giant fines and imprisoning managers when regulatory compliance problems arise. Know how to protect your company and yourself when a legal crisis hits.


    The instructor was quite eloquent and knowledgeable. I enjoyed the class and would highly recommend it to others.

    Excellent course. The simulatio software provided was very interesting and relevant to the course

    great instructor and great lecture! I really learned a lot from his two days training.

    Not having any formal training in law, I found this program highly useful in its holistic approach, practical discussions and use cases and Prof Akula's ability to synthesize complex situations into key takeaways.

    What an interesting teacher - talking about the subject and the real world experience. A must in Management and Leadership program!