Usha Rodrigues, who holds the M.E. Kilpatrick Chair of Corporate Finance and Securities Law in the School of Law, helps her students discover how exciting and interesting business law can be.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I have a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Besides teaching classes in our business law curriculum, I serve as associate dean of faculty development.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in 2005, straight from practicing corporate law. From my first visit I loved Athens—the college town feel, the old houses, the beautiful campus.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I love all the courses I teach. I love “Contracts” because I am teaching first-year law students—they’re fresh and eager and full of energy. I love teaching “Corporations” because it’s the first introduction many students have to the world of business and business law. Those two classes are big lectures, where I am trying to get students excited about the subject matter. “Lifecycle of the Corporation” is a small, hands-on class that gets the students drafting contracts and documents as actual transactional attorneys would. And “Business Ethics” allows us to discuss important ethical questions that students will face in practice.
What interests you about your field?
I split between two fields, corporate governance and securities. What I love about corporate law is exploring all of the permutations possible to answer a relatively simple question: what happens when you separate ownership and control? For securities law, what interests me is what kinds of disclosure we should require of public companies, when (if ever) we should force companies to go public, and how we deal with the risks of allowing people to invest in private corporations.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
Serving as Reporter of the American Bar Association’s Special Task Force on the Impact of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) on Corporate Governance; my appointment as associate dean; participating in the eHub, a group of energetic individuals from various colleges and disciplines committed to supporting startup businesses at UGA.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
My research and scholarship focuses on the legal challenges of businesses organizing and raising money. Every day in the classroom I talk about the same problems of governance, control and disclosure that I spend the rest of my time researching.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
An appreciation of how exciting and interesting business law really is.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is energetic, hardworking and curious.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is …
… the walk from the North Campus parking deck across the quad to the Law School. My head is always buried in my phone, making use of every free minute. But after I pass the fountain, I put the phone away and just enjoy the beauty of the green space, the trees, the light. I grew up on a college campus, and stepping onto North Campus never fails to put a smile on my face. It feels like home.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to …
… run, visit the farmers market and try to keep up with my three children (aged 7, 4 and 2).
Community/civic involvement includes …
… supporting the startup community in Athens. Before coming to Athens I practiced with a major Silicon Valley law firm. Early in my career here, I focused on traditional scholarship and hoping that eventually I could reconnect with technology startups, most probably in Atlanta. Imagine my surprise that a vibrant startup scene has sprung up right in my backyard!
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
I am an avid reader and movie watcher, and there’s no way I could name a favorite.
Proudest moment at UGA?
My proudest moment at UGA was when the class of 2013 selected me to serve as a class marshal.