“We are going to expand our curriculum offerings at the law school in the financial restructuring space, as well as organizing other events and opportunities for scholars and practitioners to get together to develop best practices,” says Western Law school dean Iain Scott.
Over the next three years, the faculty will develop and implement programs to help future students navigate their careers post-law school, including two new courses dealing with bankruptcy to be offered this year.
Three insolvency classes are being offered to law students this year, including bankruptcy and insolvency law, advanced restructuring law, and one on cross-border insolvencies in Canada and the United States.
“Most major insolvency transactions are now cross border. They involve companies that have assets not just in Canada,” says Scott. “Nortel was a global company and its insolvency proceeding involved the courts in Canada, the U.S., and U.K.”
The school will also support students who have an interest in business and insolvency law with entrance scholarships to be awarded next year. The scholarships could be up to $20,000 per student, Scott says.
The exact terms of the scholarships are now being developed, but an interest in insolvency and the overall strength of the application will be major factors in terms of acceptance.
“If a student is admitted on that basis and takes courses in this area and does well in them, there might be a possibility of further awards,” says Scott.
The dean hopes to organize visits by world-renowned professors, scholars, or judges who specialize in insolvency law, with potential lectures in Toronto and London, Ont., where students and legal professionals could benefit from their knowledge.
When it comes to insolvency law, the legal profession in Canada is in need of resources. Newton Glassman, founder and managing partner of the Catalyst Capital Group, is offering up to $10 million to “anybody and any educational group invested in helping improve the level of expertise and sophistication in the Canadian restructuring regime.”
So far, Glassman says, Western Law school is the only institution to have offered “far and beyond the best [proposal], which indicated to us a commitment by Western to try and help not just current students but legal professionals and the judiciary in improving their understanding of the impact of insolvency decisions and the regime on the credit market, the economy, and the country as a whole.”
Glassman says he has observed an increasing problem in the administration of the bankruptcy system over the past few years.
“The growth of the Canadian high-yield market, specifically, and the credit market, generally, as a result of the great recession and the zero-interest-rate environment, have exploded, meaning the growth [of restructuring] has exploded,” he explains.
The main challenge for law students in all of this, says Scott, is that they tend to think: “Business is good, [and] business will always be good.” But, in fact, students have to understand that is not always the case and when you structure a contract with a client “you need to be anticipating issues that might arise if the client has financial difficulties or became bankrupt.”