Having students roll up their sleeves and dive into big, complicated contracts might not be expected in a typical law school course, but that’s exactly how Associate Professor of Law Robert Weber teaches his students.
“The students will be looking at a 200-page bank loan agreement where a company has borrowed $2.5 billion from a syndicate of banks, and they start to understand the byzantine complexity of the document and the relationship it creates and sustains,” he said.
Weber joined the Georgia State Law faculty in 2014, and teaches Corporations, Corporate Finance and Securities Regulation. While Weber always felt like teaching was a good fit for him, he first pictured himself as a foreign language or literature professor.
After undergrad, Weber received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Rome, where he focused on the experience of immigrant authors who had begun writing about their experiences as new arrivals in Italy. It was there he realized he wasn’t ready to commit to the process of getting his Ph.D., so he decided to attend law school at the University of Michigan instead.
“I was really interested in immigration law growing out of my experience studying literature written by immigrants,” Weber said. “The weird thing was though, by the time I graduated law school, I never even took immigration law. I ended up really getting into another equally international part of practice: business and corporate law.”
Weber first clerked for the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York City after law school for two years. He then started at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP where he spent a few years in their corporate department doing all kinds of transactional work.
While he was practicing, Weber still knew his goal was to make the jump into teaching, even though it was no longer going to be language or literature but instead corporate law.
“One commonality might be that studying corporate law and studying a literary text both involve digging underneath the text,” he said. “When students begin to understand the importance of these complex texts that lawyers are responsible for drafting, in effect the institutional architecture and plumbing of companies which are enormously important in our society, that’s a particular rewarding experience for me.”
Weber is working on two projects currently; one is critiquing legal futurism while the other is looking into the role of racial disparity data in debates about politics and law. It’s a different focus for Weber, who traditionally researches financial regulation and administrative law.
“One theme of my research is to study the financial system as a complex social system,” Weber said. “It’s dynamic and it’s complex in the sense that it often defies our attempts to understand it. It evolves in ways that we couldn’t anticipate and there’s something inherently interesting about efforts to shape it with law.”
Diving into those complexities is something Weber is looking forward to doing with students in a new course he helped introduce into the curriculum in his capacity as chair of the curriculum. In Spring 2022, Legislation and Regulation will be added to the curriculum. It will be required for 1Ls to take and will give students an appreciation of the role of statutes and regulations in the legal system.
Written by Mara Thompson