Baylor Law Announces New Endowed Chair in Business and Transactional Law

June 6, 2018

Dean Brad Toben announces the appointment of Elizabeth Miller to inaugural chair

Contact: Ed Nelson, Baylor Law, 254-710-6681
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WACO, Texas (June 6, 2018) – Baylor Law has announced the creation of The M. Stephen and Alyce A. Beard Chair in Business and Transactional Law that will be funded through a generous gift from M. Stephen (B.B.A. ’71, J.D. ’73) and Alyce A. Beard (B.A. ’70). Proceeds from the endowment will support this faculty position in perpetuity, allowing Baylor Law to enhance practical training and scholarship in this critical discipline.

Prior to moving away from his private practice in 2000, Steve Beard was president of the Pakis, Giotes, Beard and Page, P.C. law firm in Waco, where he specialized in business and construction law. His wife, Alyce, serves on the Baylor Alumni Network Board of Advocates and Baylor’s Martin Museum Board.

Baylor Law has named Elizabeth (Beth) Miller, a leading national scholar and expert in business organizations law, as the chair’s inaugural holder. Professor Miller is the foremost authority on Texas business organizations law, as well as a nationally recognized expert on the law of limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships. She frequently speaks on these topics at continuing legal education programs in Texas and across the country. Professor Miller has held leadership positions in the American Bar Association Business Law Section as well as the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. She received the 2011 Jean Allard “Glass Cutter” Award presented by the ABA Business Law Section and the 2013 Martin I. Lubaroff Award presented by the LLCs, Partnerships and Unincorporated Entities Committee of the ABA Business Law Section. Professor Miller is an elected member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation.

“Steve and Alyce have truly blessed our business and transactional business program – and most importantly, our students – by their extraordinary commitment to Baylor Law. Their impact on our program will continue for generations to come, and we are grateful for their dedication and stewardship,” said Dean Brad Toben. “The opportunity to name Professor Beth Miller to this position is so ideally appropriate. Rarely is there legislation on business organizations – considered or passed by the Texas Legislature – that does not have Beth’s imprint on it. She is held in high esteem by her colleagues in the profession across the nation. Her influence on future Baylor Lawyers who practice business and transactional law is and will be profound.”

True to Baylor Law’s mission to prepare practice-ready lawyers, Professor Miller created Baylor Law’s “Business Law Boot Camp,” an intensive intersession course held between the spring and summer quarters. Taught by a team of adjunct professors who are well-established, highly regarded transactional lawyers, the Business Law Boot Camp offers practical training on multiple aspects of business formation, commercial borrowing, raising capital, trademark and advertising issues, succession planning, selling a business, basic tax and accounting, contract drafting and negotiation skills.

Professor Miller also is responsible for creating The Closer, a one-of-a-kind national transactional law competition. Unlike other transactional law contests, law students from around the nation will not have spent weeks to prepare when they arrive at Baylor Law to participate in this invitational transactional competition. Competitors see the problem for the first time and have only 24 hours to prepare to negotiate the deal. This tight timeline reflects Baylor Law’s commitment to training practice-ready lawyers by pushing competitors to identify the legal issues and devise and negotiate solutions that best serve their client's wishes with the efficiency required of lawyers under realistic time constraints.

“Baylor Law’s capacity to continue to develop leaders in business and transactional law depends on strong academic programs led by exceptional, inspirational professors,” Steve Beard said. “I personally have participated in, and benefitted from, the intense academic training that Baylor Law offers. I am inspired to invest in its future by supporting this important faculty position. Alyce and I are committed to the principle of giving and sharing the blessings we have received.”

Baylor stands today at the forefront of practice-oriented law schools nationally. One of the top-five ranked law schools in the nation for litigation and advocacy training, the establishment of this chair also recognizes Baylor Law’s prominence in training business and transactional attorneys. Baylor’s fully integrated transactional program prepares students for all types of positions within transactional areas of practice. Students interested in pursuing transactional practice can choose from among several Professional Tracks that provide deeper dives into specialized areas, such as business planning, estate planning, health care law, intellectual property and transactions involving real estate and natural resources.

“Faculty chairs signal a commitment to quality scholarship and teaching while serving to enhance both our academic reputation and institutional prestige,” said Associate Dean Leah Teague. “Baylor Law is fortunate to have such a distinguished scholar and expert on our faculty. With a significant number of our graduates practicing in business or transactional law, our students are blessed to have Professor Miller as their teacher and mentor. Beth Miller is revered by the business law community for her extraordinary legal abilities, and she is beloved by all.”

The Beards have one daughter, Stephanie, a professional artist. They enjoy traveling, being active in First Baptist Church Waco and supporting Baylor athletic and academic endeavors.

The M. Stephen and Alyce A. Beard Chair in Business and Transactional Law is held by a faculty member with an active Christian commitment, integrity and character who can contribute significantly to the areas of business law and transactions at Baylor Law. The chair is a leader in the field, preparing Baylor Law students with practical training for careers in business and transactional law.


Established in 1857, Baylor Law was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. Baylor Law boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as one of the top 5 in the nation. Baylor Law School also is ranked No. 50 in the magazine’s 2019 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the “Best School for Practical Training” and No. 4 in the nation in its most recent “Best Law School Facilities” listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award’s inception in 1984. Learn more at


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.