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About the Program

The Clarke Program on Law, Finance, and Transactions focuses on the intersection of law and finance, including analyses of business relationships from a finance perspective, as well as the structure of the financial markets, the behavior and governance of the institutions that comprise them, and the transactions that occur within them. The program also focuses on the means by which two or more parties can enter into business or other economic relationships, including their structure, the creation of value and management of risks, and the patterns of governance that have been generated. The program supports programming related to those themes, including several curricular programs aimed at enhancing the Law School’s ability to expose students to issues and skills related to complex transactions, business organizations, and financial markets, as well as conferences, workshops, and guest speakers.

Deals Curriculum

In addition to Cornell Law School’s core business law curriculum, the Institute is introducing students to a different way of thinking about deals and lawyering in an effort to expand their practical skills.  The Institute sponsors one core Deals course and a number of Deals seminars each year, taught by expert practitioners, each focusing on a different specialty.  The Deals course is taught by Professor Charles Whitehead.  It is open to law and business students alike, and introduces students to complex deal structuring.  The course provides readings in economic theory, models and mechanics, and describes the tools that transactional lawyers use to address the problems presented.  The course includes deal-related documentation from actual transactions that student teams dissect using tools they study in class.  The teams present the deals to their classmates, describing what the deal was intended to do and how it was structured.  The lawyers (and clients) who actually negotiated the deal then explore it during the following class.

Transactional Lawyering Competition

In addition to Cornell Law School’s core business law curriculum, the BLI is introducing students to a different way of thinking about deals and lawyering in an effort to expand their practical skills.

Each year, the Law School hosts the Transactional Lawyering Competition, essentially a “moot court for deal lawyers,” and the only intramural competition of its kind. Student teams of two lawyers each represent buyers and sellers of a hotel/resort property in the Finger Lakes Region. Students are judged on the basis of their “mark-up” of a modified asset purchase agreement and their ability to negotiate effectively on behalf of their respective clients. Winners of that competition then represent Cornell at a national competition.

Past alumni judges have included:

  • John Alexander ’71 (Sayles & Evans)
  • David Boehnen ’88 (Dorsey & Whitney)
  • John Calandra ’91 (McDermott Will & Emery)
  • William Casazza ’85 (Aetna)
  • Robert Feiner ’85 (Feiner Wolfson)
  • Todd Feinsmith ’91 (Pepper Hamilton)
  • Dean Fournaris ’91 (Wiggin & Dana)
  • David Furman ’83 (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher)
  • Joel Hartstone ’70 (Stonegate Capital Group)
  • Denise Hauselt ’83 (formerly Corning)
  • Sarah Hewitt ’82 (Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis)
  • Adele Hogan ’85 (Hogan Law Associates)
  • Jim Kaput ’86 (Zebra Technologies)
  • Sandra Lambert ’80 (Kadant)
  • Thomas Malone ’05 (Latham & Watkins)
  • Ira Marcus ’74 (Saiber) Deborah McClean ’78 (Nixon Peabody)
  • Ray Minella ’74 (Cornell Law School)
  • Joshua Nathan ’91 (Private Practice)
  • Brendan O’Connor ’05 (Honeywell International)
  • Dale Okonow ’83 (The Watermill Group)
  • Adrianne Payson ’00 (DLA Piper)
  • Jay Rakow ’77 (ProCon.org)
  • Elke Rehbock ’04 (Dentons)
  • Mack Rosoff (Rosoff & Co.)
  • Stanley Schwartz ’69 (Orloff, Lowenbach, Stifelman & Siegel)
  • William Shiland ’83 (Rexford Management Company)
  • Andy Stamelman ’83 (Sherman Wells Sylvester & Stamelman)
  • Al Uluatam ’91 (State Street/Global Treasury Legal)
  • Mark Underberg ’81 (Cardozo School of Law)
  • Stephen Urban ’90 (Connell Foley)
  • Sara Werner (Dentons)


The Institute hosts conferences that leverage Cornell Law School’s position as an academic forum to address important business law topics. Many of the conferences will be limited in size to facilitate candid discussion and will take place in Ithaca, New York City, and other venues.

Past Conferences

“Rethinking the Public-Private Balance in Financial Markets and Regulation”

Nov 9, 2015, Ithaca, NY
The Clarke Business Law Institute’s Program on the Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets held a cutting-edge academic conference at the Cornell Club in Manhattan. Titled “Rethinking the Public-Private Balance in Financial Markets and Regulation,” the conference brought together leading scholars of financial regulation from Cornell Law School, Columbia Law School, Duke Law, Georgetown Law, George Washington Law, University of Oxford Faculty of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, the Wharton School, and many others.

“Symposium on Law, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship”

February 8, 2013, Cornell Club, New York City
In line with the new Cornell NYC Tech campus, this all-day conference focused on legal issues that affect innovation and entrepreneurship. There were four panels during the day. The panels included academic authors and non-academic commentators. The conference papers were published in the September 2013 issue of the Cornell Law Review.

“New Voices on Financial Market Regulation”

September 29, 2012, Ithaca, NY
Professor Lynn Stout, Distinguished Professor of Corporate and Business Law, hosted this conference including Adam Levitin, Bruce W. Nichols Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Yesha Yadav, Assistant Professor Law, Vanderbilt Law School; Daniel Schwarcz, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Law; Simone Sepe, Associate P, James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona; Kathryn Judge, Associate Professor, Columbia Law School; Saul Omarova, Assistant Professor of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Jeffrey Manns, George Washington University; Jeffrey Gordon, Columbia; and Margaret Blair, Vanderbilt University. Other Cornell Law participants included Professor Charles Whitehead, Professor Robert Hockett, and Visiting Professor Gina-Gail Fletcher.

“Financial Regulatory Reform in the Wake of the Dodd-Frank Act”

October 28, 2011, New York City
Cornell Law School hosted an all-day conference in New York City on issues facing financial regulatory reform following passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. The conference featured luminaries from the worlds of law, finance, government, and academia, as well as forty law students who traveled from the Ithaca campus. The speakers’ viewpoints often clashed, but were candidly discussed in a discourse that reflected the conference’s academic setting.


Charles Whitehead
Myron C. Taylor Alumni Professor of Business Law
(607) 255-9498
Cornell University
222 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

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