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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Classroom: Technology, Law, and Entrepreneurship

By Kathryn LoConte

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Oliver Goodenough. Photograph by Douglas Fraser.
HEAD OF THE CLASS: Oliver Goodenough. Photograph by Douglas Fraser.

Professor Oliver Goodenough guides Thayer School graduate students through the intricacies of the legal system that surrounds entrepreneurial enterprises. It’s not enough for students to have an innovative idea to unleash onto the world, he says. They have to scale legal hurdles as well.

“Understanding the legal frameworks available for creating productive alliances of invention, capital, management, and labor is a critical skill for people who bring ideas to fruition,” says Goodenough, a Vermont Law School professor and Thayer adjunct professor who has taught ENGM 188: Technology, Law, and Entrepreneurship for five years.

During fall term, 22 students from Thayer and Tuck School of Business filled 202 Cummings Hall to learn about the law of intellectual property, contractual transactions, business structures, debt and equity finance, and securities regulation in this country and abroad.

In leading students through these issues, Goodenough demystifies the way the legal world works. “My goal is to convince you that at least in certain domains, the law is your friend,” he told the class. “By having a core understanding of what lawyers are doing, you will understand the context, ask better questions, and make things better for yourself.”

Goodenough, who practiced business and property law earlier in his career, gives students a blunt look at his profession. “Lawyers are bossy people. They’re also often cautious people. That can be a very good thing. But there may be places in engineering and business where you want to take some risk. You should manage the lawyers, not be managed by them,” he told the class. “By the end of the term, I hope that you will not be intimidated by a 20-page contract. You may be bored, but you won’t be intimidated because you’ll have the tools to unpack it and manage it, not be managed by it.”

—Kathryn LoConte is assistant editor at Dartmouth Engineer.

For more photos, visit our Faculty and Instructors and Student Projects pages on Flickr.

Categories: The Great Hall, Classroom

Tags: curriculum, entrepreneurship, faculty, students

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