For more than 50 years, Ron Lahners taught College of Business students the importance of understanding how law impacts the success or failure of business. This summer, he taught his last business law class for the college.
Lahners, who received his law degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1959, achieved a distinguished career in law himself, serving in both private and public practice, including an appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 as the U.S. attorney for the District of Nebraska. For the past 20 years, he served as an administrative law judge in the social security administration.
“All business students need a basic understanding of how courts work and how law enforcement interacts with the courts,” said Lahners. “One of the most important areas I teach is contracts. People make contracts either for their business or for themselves throughout their lifetime. They have to know some basic fundamentals in order to do that effectively.”
Many prominent attorneys worked for Lahners over the years, including current Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nebraska Michael Heavican. His breadth of experience and practical knowledge helped his classroom presentations come to life for students.
“The relationships with students have been wonderful, and I get a good feeling from helping them in an area that’s going to strengthen their careers. I’ve had several students come up to me years later and say, ‘That’s probably the most important class I took in undergraduate school. It taught me a lot about dealing with people and situations that came up down the road.’”
Lahners regularly brought in guest speakers such as Kelly and former Lincoln Chief of Police Tom Casady. Lahners believes the practical experience in the classroom left a positive impact.
“The students hear about my experiences as a judge and an attorney, but they also get input from a variety of other professions. The real-world perspective from people in professional jobs such as bankers, lawyers and law enforcement go a long way in speaking to what is happening with the law in contemporary society. Back when I started teaching, I spent next to no time on discrimination issues, and now there’s always at least two chapters out of the book that deal with the legal ramifications of discrimination.”
The School of Accountancy administers the business law class. Lahners, who appreciated the opportunity to teach the class, expressed gratitude to Dr. Aaron Crabtree, director and associate professor of accountancy, and Marci Warner, administrative coordinator, for their help facilitating the classes. Crabtree emphasized the value of Lahner’s experience and ability to relate to students.
“Students need to understand what they can and can’t do in certain situations so the business law class is extremely beneficial,” said Crabtree. “There is a business law section on the CPA exam so our students have to fully understand the topic given all the regulation from an accounting perspective. Ron has been terrific. He’s always been enthusiastic teaching the course and even after 50 years students appreciate what he has to say.”