The arrival of global law firms has had an impact on the curriculum of Australia's universities.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, the dean of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) law school, Professor David Dixon, said that in altering his university's curriculum recently, the increasing amount of cross-border work involving Australian lawyers was acknowledged.
"One of the specific things happening with the new curriculum is that we will have a new course on international legal perspectives," he said. "It will not about teaching international law - it is about teaching law in a global context."
Dixon has also noticed how the arrival of global law firms has ramped up the war for talent from firms looking to pick up the cream of the graduate crop.
"I know you hear from some firms that they are not getting as many people accepting offers from them," he said. "Top students are going outside law firms for work as well. I was struck by a very good graduate of ours recently going to work for a consulting firm - and turning down an offer from a top-tier firm."
The growing political and economic clout of the Asia-Pacific has made the legal profession as a whole, including universities, take a more regional approach.
UNSW has affiliations with over 20 Chinese universities, and runs a summer school in Beijing in conjunction with the China University of Political Science and Law. It also has connections with Australian law firms, such as Mallesons Stephen Jaques, that have offices in China.
"The areas where law firms are looking to develop, such as in China, south-east Asia and the Indian sub-continent, we have strong contacts there, and are looking to develop those contacts and provide opportunities for students to study in places like China."
Dixon was speaking to Lawyers Weekly ahead of the university's legal book launch on 27 October. This is one of a number of celebrations UNSW has staged this year to celebrate the law school's 40th anniversary.
NSW chief justice Tom Bathurst will be a special guest at the launch, where he will make an address.
For a more extensive interview with David Dixon and other law school deans on the links between universities and law firms, steps to combat depression and the development of law school curriculum, see Lawyers Weekly 559 on 11 November.
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