Deakin Law School (DLS) recently held an exclusive panel discussion titled ‘Accountants + Lawyers = Numbers, Words, Arguments, and $$’. The event featured academics Sandeep Gopalan (Dean of Law), Barry Cooper (Associate Dean – Industry engagement and partnership) and Ferdinand Gul (Alfred Deakin Professor of Accounting and Finance) who provided insight into the corporate accounting and legal structure as well as the changing role of accountants and lawyers. Panellists included ATO Assistant commissioner (Jennifer Moltisanti), senior partner and National tax Leader Deloitte (James Fabijancic) and Director E&Y (Paul Clarke).
Sandeep provided an insight into how technology disruptions were impacting different industries and has significantly impacted both accountants and lawyers. Jennifer provided insights into her experience with the OECD on international tax policy. Other panellists provided deep insights into cross border and digital legislation which has significantly changed the landscape for both accountants and lawyers.
Complex transactions such as international cross border transaction and international tax policy which requires complex multi-disciplinary skills has significantly increased the role of the multi-disciplinary professionals. What was clear through the talk was that traditional back office roles and mundane legal work is going to be replaced by improved technology or off shoring. For instance, in Australia back office jobs as a % of the work force declined significantly as compliance share of the work force increased significantly.
James reiterated the need for strong practical skills in the workforce and ensuring a good nexus between university learning and industry needs. It was suggested that strong experiential component would significantly enhance the employability of students. The Units such as Venture Law Clinic in the MAL program provide an opportunity to turn theory into practice through experiential learning opportunities.