Boston University Rides a Boom with Center for Banking Law Studies: Industry Changes Spawn Widespread Interest in New Graduate Program

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- If Boston University were a business, it would be exulting over entering a booming market -- banking law.

"It's the hottest area in law today," says Prof. Dennis S. Aronowitz, director of Boston University's Morin Center of Boston University's Morin Center for Banking Law Studies, part of the university's School of Law.

The center's graduate program in banking law is the first offered by an American law school. An initial graduating class of 19 students got "out of the gate" in mid-May, Prof. Aronowitz said. They received diplomas for completing a one-year multidisciplinary program that comprised a wide range of banking law subjects as well as economic and managerial aspects of the financial services industry.

The first class started last September with 27 full-time students (several switched to part time during their studies) and 42 part-time students. Next September, Prof. Aronowitz expects 40-50 full-time students, about 20 new part-time students, and almost 50 continuing part-time students.

"The thing that has surprised us enormously is the numbers applying," he said.

Prof. Aronowitz attributed the boom in bank law studies to the deregulation or re-regulation of the banking business and to recent technological advances. This has resulted in a rapidly changing economic scene for bankers as both international and interstate banking spreadsh, and banks and their competitors in the securities, insurance, and other industies move into new financial areas.

"It has made tremendous opportunities for lawyers," he said.

Lawyers Need Savvy

However, Prof. Aronowitz said he thinks many lawyes are unprepared to give their banking clients good advice. When a banker asks about moving into this or that nw financial market, too often his lawyers simply said it couldn't be done, Prof. Aronowitz said. With more understanding of the changing banking scene, lawyers might be better able to suggest ways and means for accomplishing bankes' goals while remaining on the right side of laws and regulations.

"In order to be an effective lawyer, you have to get some rudiments of economics and management of the financial system," Prof. Aronowitz said.

The program's first class came from 15 states and held law degrees from 30 American universities. The class also included a number of foreign lawyers from Japan, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Venezuela.

Most of the new graduates already have positions in law firms or banks, Prof. Aronowitz said. There has been no salary survey to determine whether incomes reflects the $9,500 tuition, which will be raised to $10,000 next year.

"None of them seems sad about their salaries," he commented.

International Appeal

Next school year's class will include students from West Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Japan.

The school had one Japanese student last year and will hve three next year. Last year's Japanese student joked that the number of Japanese students will multiply -- "just like Hondas" -- because Japanese banks and securities firms are expanding their operations in the United States.

Other foreign applicants include lawyers from Pakistan, India, Brazil, and Taiwan.

"The interest of foreign lawyers in the program is the biggest surprise," Prof. Aronowitz said.

Instruction in the program is provided by a faculty of 19. Seven are full-time Boston University faculty, four from the School of Law and three from the School of Management. Twelve part-time instructors are experts from law firms and financial institutions in Boston, New York, Washington, and Pittsburgh.

John D. Hawke Jr. …