Assistant Professor of Business Law
University of Michigan Ross School of Business
When Jeremy Kress started as a Lecturer in Business Law at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, it completed a full circle. Kress earned his BBA from the Ross School of Business in 2005. And after completing the JD/MA in Public Policy dual-degree program from Harvard University, he came back to Ann Arbor, where he has been since.
“After working at the Federal Reserve in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, I had a lot I wanted to say about the future of financial regulation and systemic risk,” Kress says about his path back to school and eventually teaching. “I hoped that becoming a business school professor would give me the opportunity to think, write, and teach about these issues on a daily basis.”
Kress was one of our most popular professors on this year’s list, earning nearly a dozen nominations. His research focusing on bank mergers has earned media coverage from The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. That combo of teaching chops and impactful research easily put him on this year’s list of Best Undergraduate Business School professors.
Current age: 37
At current institution since what year? 2016
Education: JD, Harvard Law School; MPP, Harvard Kennedy School; BBA, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
List of courses you currently teach: Legal Issues in Finance and Banking
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… After working at the Federal Reserve in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, I had a lot I wanted to say about the future of financial regulation and systemic risk. I hoped that becoming a business school professor would give me the opportunity to think, write, and teach about these issues on a daily basis. (And I was correct!)
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
One aspect of my research focuses on bank mergers. I’ve argued that the federal pre-approval regime for bank mergers, which dates back to the 1950s, is no longer appropriate for modern financial markets. In my research, I’ve proposed strategies to revitalize bank merger oversight, and my ideas formed the basis for legislation introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Chuy Garcia last year.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… working in a policy capacity in Washington, D.C.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I work hard preparing to deliver engaging in-class experiences, and being a Ross BBA alumnus helps me develop a strong rapport with my students.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Exhilarating
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: The importance of structuring your day to maximize productivity. I’ve learned that I’m better at some types of work (e.g., writing) during the morning, while I’m better at other types of work (e.g., research and class preparation) in the afternoon and evening. In addition, I’ve discovered that I need to preserve long blocks of uninterrupted time to write well.
Professor I most admire and why: Mehrsa Baradaran, University of California Irvine School of Law. I admire Mehrsa’s scholarship on making the financial system fairer and more just, and I aspire to emulate the way she leverages her academic work to influence public policy.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
My favorite part of every semester is the last office hours before final exams. At the beginning of the semester, students generally know very little about financial regulation and how it could affect them and their employers. But by the end of the semester, they’ve mastered the material, they’re connecting concepts from throughout the class, and they come to office hours with very sophisticated and insightful questions. Those discussions have been some of my most gratifying moments as a professor.
What is most challenging?
Some students enter my class with a presumption that business law is nonessential to their future careers. Occasionally it takes some time to disabuse them of that notion, but I usually get there by the end of the semester!
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Engaged
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Uninterested
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Having high standards and providing good feedback.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies?
I’ve built several University of Michigan-themed Lego models (e.g., the football stadium, basketball arena, football helmet), which are proudly displayed in my office.
How will you spend your summer?
Writing about banks, reading on my deck, and trying to entertain two small children whose summer camps have been closed due to COVID-19.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Northern Michigan
Favorite book(s): Non-fiction: Liar’s Poker, When Genius Failed, The Spider Network. Fiction: The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Expanse series.
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
Billions. Although unrealistic in many respects, Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades are fascinating characters, and I love the intersection between law and finance.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?
1990s alternative rock. I guess I haven’t listened to new music since high school…
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Interdisciplinary classes. I’d love to see more courses that are cross-listed at different schools across the University and co-taught by multidisciplinary faculty teams.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Legal strategy. Far too often, legal departments are viewed as a cost center, rather than a potential source of competitive advantage. In my classes, I try to demonstrate through case studies and examples how business leaders can use legal strategy to create value for their firms.
I’m grateful for… (1) My family, who have unconditionally supported my academic pursuits, and (2) my colleagues, who have helped position me to succeed.
Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:
“A lawyer as well as a business professor, Jeremy Kress previously worked for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and drafted rules to implement the Dodd-Frank Act. That experience informs his current work as a professor and a national thought leader who’s been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other top publications. He has written extensively on financial regulation, testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and helped draft proposed federal legislation on bank mergers. He has presented at conferences and is a senior research fellow at the University of Michigan Center on Finance, Law, and Policy. However, his impact is greatest in the classroom. He teaches the popular elective Legal Issues in Finance and Banking, helping BBAs learn to successfully navigate business environments fraught with legal risk. Last year, his students recognized his efforts with the BBA Teaching Excellence Award.” – Scott DeRue, Dean, Michigan Ross School of Business
“Jeremy Kress is a Business Law faculty member who was recognized last year by the undergraduate students at Michigan Ross who awarded his the BBA Teaching Excellence Award. Before joining the faculty at Ross, Prof. Kress worked for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on rules to implement the Dodd-Frank Act. That experience has informed his scholarship which has received a lot of attention in the press, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. He has written extensively on financial regulation, testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and helped draft proposed federal legislation on bank mergers. He is a senior research fellow at the University of Michigan Center on Finance, Law, and Policy. He teaches a popular elective on Legal Issues in Finance and Banking, equipping BBAs with the tolls they need to understand and navigate complex regulatory contexts and related business issues.”
“In a short amount of time, Professor Jeremy Kress has established himself as a leading voice on banking law with his research and policy work, and has translated this expertise into the classroom. In addition to teaching the Ross School’s core course on Business Law for BBA students, Jeremy has developed a BBA capstone course on Finance and Banking Law. In both classes, Jeremy has received excellent evaluations; and by excellent, I mean has received an average score of 5.0 on a scale of 1 to 5. This excellence has translated into winning the Ross School’s teaching award for undergraduate students, and being twice nominated for the University-wide best teaching award.”