TERTIARY EDUCATION in this country is beginning to feel the reverberations of a growth in financial services law in the corporate world, according to a leading financial services partner at Blake Dawson Waldron.
As new areas of law emerge, said Michael Vrisakis, courses at universities are having to accommodate these changes, and the traditional focus on types of law such as torts and contracts is crossing paths with these new areas which become subjects in their own right.
As the area of financial services regulation grows, so does the interest of law graduates. So universities are having to cover the areas in their curriculum, he said.
According to Vrisakis, law firms can develop their financial services law practices by interacting with tertiary education providers, giving a number of benefits to both sides.
This has been undertaken by Blake Dawson Waldron, which about three years ago took on Professor Michael Adams as a consultant to the financial services group. At the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), a chair in financial services law was recently conferred on Professor Adams.
Professor Adams has been honoured for his expertise in teaching and educational developments. He was awarded the UTS Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1992, and in 2000 the Federal Government awarded him an Australian University Teacher in Law and Legal Studies award.
Adams’ relationship with the firm gives it direct access to an academic with “top level thinking” and research on key new areas, such as the Financial Services Reform Act 2001, Vrisakis said.
Such a relationship between a tertiary institution and a law firm also gives the latter the opportunity to extend its CLE program through seminars for all legal staff and to enhance its training capabilities. For Blakes, this has the benefit of being a motivator for lawyers who can now interact with Professor Adams both during sessions and during other times he spends in the office.
There is also value in this relationship for clients, Vrisakis said, for whom training in financial services law has become an important issue. “Coming up to speed in this area for a client can be a time consuming exercise,” Vrisakis
He said access to academics is valuable “where the need for focused, clear and well presented training and education is pronounced”.
“In addition, having the ability to call on an external expert in the area of financial services laws for specific technical client issues is also very valuable,” Vrisakis said.
The door swings both ways, though, and there is value in this relationship for the tertiary institution as it has contact with, and exposure to, the world of private practice and the legal issues that crop up in this context, Vrisakis said.
“In this way, the interaction between tertiary education and the law firm becomes a two-way dynamic, with valuable cross-pollination of ideas as well as enhanced development of the area of law as an attractive one for new lawyers,” Vrisakis said.