A new focus on American legal studies

7 May 2012

A spike in interest in US law courses at Australian tertiary institutions has been driven largely by globalisation, according to Professor Jennifer Hill.

In an article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Jennifer Hill, who teaches a specialised postgraduate unit on US Corporate Law, says globalisation has made it increasingly important to have tools to understand international transactions.

She says the US is a "critical jurisdiction" given its commercial importance, despite the rise of China.

"While the interest in US law is mainly driven by globalisation, corporate scandals and crises [such as the collapse of Enron, HIH and One.Tel] have also prompted reforms to deal with these kinds of problems across a range of jurisdictions," Professor Hill says.
"This has resulted in a kind of regulatory 'show and tell', where jurisdictions can look at how other jurisdictions address these issues."

This comparative analysis, Professor Hill says, is not just a one-way street.
Many countries are examining Australia's regulatory system to work out how it managed to avoid being hard hit by the global financial crisis.
Britain, for example, is overhauling its regulatory system and Australia's model has been influential in that restructuring, Professor Hill says.
Sydney Law School has a strong international focus, she says, reflected in the intensive postgraduate course that examines topics such as the history and structure of corporate law in the US to the governance role held by US shareholders.
She says two distinct student groups have shown interest in the course: those practising corporate law who need to better understand the aspects of US law so as to negotiate in such transactions; and international students interested in undertaking courses in US law in line with the legal influence the US wields in many countries.

In the same article, Mr Ronald C. Barusch, former Partner with Skadden, who has been teaching the specialisted unit, Cross Border Deals: A US Perspective, says the popularity of the US corporate law courses has been prompted partly by Australia's increasing economic power.

But he says young lawyers also need to understand US law so they can creatively solve problems that arise due to the fact both countries have complex sets of legal principles.

He says Australian commercial lawyers must be able to negotiate with their US counterparts on cross-border deals, mergers and acquisitions.

"I'm not here to tell Australians how to practise law... The real issue is, 'How do we have an equal level of knowledge in order to better do business?'" Mr Barusch says.

For more information on Sydney Law School's postgraduate units that have an American focus - An American Perspective

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

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