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Faculty Spotlight – Professor Rich Hendler “The friendlier face of the Law”

By Jessica Wong, Carola Gasser-Trinkl, and Isabell Wenning

Of the ‘must take’ Professors at Stern, Professor Hendler, or as he prefers to be called, Rich, is certainly one of them. Rich is a recipient of several official teaching awards, including the Executive MBA Excellence in Teaching Award, the Undergraduate Teacher of the Year Honors in both 2001 and 2003, and the Stern Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014. Informally, he is a highly recommended Professor and a unique person to get to know as a friend and mentor. If asked to describe himself in one word, Rich would choose the word “Humanity”: He loves people and translates that love to the classroom by creating a  community within a community at Stern. In stressful times like recruiting season, his class offers a safe haven and possibility to come up for air amid the crazy turbulence. 

Rich’s path to law was a windy one. His journey started with his enrollment in a 6-year medical program but he quickly realized that he wasn’t passionate about what he was studying. He successfully transferred to NYU Law School and learned an important lesson for life, when being confronted with a religious disparity between himself and his college roommate. Rich made the conscious decision to face this situation, not by running away from it and switching rooms, but by actively trying to make friends with the fellow student. This taught him the importance of dealing with conflict without passing judgment. His decision to be curious about the differences between him and his roommate allowed him to broaden his perspective and practice law in the most humane way possible.

Curiosity is also what led him to teach law and – after a few stops on the way – to find his true calling in helping “the little man” and sharing his knowledge – legal and beyond – with his students. 

This class not only boasts a plethora of insights into the Law of Business and beyond – brought to life through real-world business examples – but it also creates community as one of the many valuable takeaways. The class can be characterized as fluid and relevant. It includes incredibly educating and fun mock trials, as well as open mic sessions that lead to active in-class discussions. Rich also took the learning experience beyond the classroom and encouraged students to visit state and federal courtrooms to gain first-hand exposure to the legal system at work. Our knowledge was tested in exams that we tackled in groups and in an engaging game of Jeopardy at the end of the semester that allowed us to test our knowledge against two experienced practicing attorneys. 

Business Law is definitely an enrichment to the MBA curriculum and should be a core class. Rich brings his kindness and insights to a topic that students might be intimidated by or disinterested in at first but soon find that the class is highly relevant and digestible. We can only hope that Stern will be able to return to full swing in the Fall since these challenging times can’t be easy for Rich, who puts so much effort into passing his sheer endless energy on to his students. Here’s to hoping that he will soon again be able to do it in person – even though his positive energy, dedication and passion for teaching law probably transmit well online too. 

Student Quotes

“In the course of the chaotic recruiting season, Richard Hendler’s unconventional teaching style provided an entertaining and insightful classroom experience.” –Jonathan Hammond

“The friendly side of law – the man with the flower.” – Carola Gasser-Trinkl

“This class combines law and love.” –  Isabell Wenning
“This is the only chance to learn about liability in a business class, something relevant for all roles.” – Sergio Botero

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