Tom Guélimi (GED 3)
Just like any third-year student at the Grande Ecole du Droit, I had to choose two courses of M1 in business law to study before leaving on my LL.M. During the first semester, I followed the international private law course (you can find Maxime François’s article on this course below) but this semester, I decided to go with financial law. Basically, it’s the law of the markets on which investment services are offered and operations take place. These are all under the control of a national entity, in France the AMF.
This area of the law has become particularly important and interesting after the financial crisis of 2007 because of all the efforts that were put in the regulation of the financial markets. But aside from the fact that this subject is fascinating and very stimulating intellectually, why should you chose this course for your second semester?
First of all, everyone starting in this class feel like they’re being spoken to in a completely different language which makes you at the same time very curious but also a little bit stressed about the final exam (an oral exam by the way, beware). Indeed, you will feel as if you were part of a special group allowed to understand how the world of finance works and the feeling of uneasiness actually quickly goes away after a couple of classes.
Second, the professor teaching financial law is amazing (in a good and a bad way, trust me). Professor Paclot often says “If you understand what I am saying, I must not have been clear enough”. He actually is quite clear most of the time and manages to make very complex situations or rules of law sound very simple. Even better, he does not hesitate to criticize the judicial decisions or the applying rules of law. However, you should not join this course if you do not like to participate because he might test you on your general knowledge from time to time.
Finally, this course, if you choose to accept it, can be a major asset in your academic background since very few students attend it (average of 20 students) and even fewer students have the chance to take this course during their third year. As I have mentioned before, this is a very complex and modern area of the law and it embraces a lot of fields of business law so it may become handy in your future career.
I hope I haven’t spoiled you anything and have left you curious enough to join the course. Good luck to you and may the law be with you.
Santiago Ramirez (GED 3)
I have to admit that selecting my Master 1 courses wasn’t an easy task for me. Indeed, when it comes to choosing courses, I believe that it’s essential to combine your personal tastes with a coherent academic project. During the first semester, I decided to study ‘Corporate Taxation Law’. It was a strategic decision, since ‘General Taxation Law’ is taught during the second semester of the third year of LL.B. As a result, at the end of my third year, I will benefit from a strong knowledge of French taxation law.
For the second semester, it was a much trickier question. I was eager to study almost every courses … However, I decided to discover the mysterious world of the financial markets. It was a logical choice. On one hand, I’ve always been interested in economy and finance. On the other hand, financial law isn’t taught in every French universities, and it’s an emerging subject in the legal field.
But Santiago, why should I choose financial law?!
Well, because you will understand the bases of a key sector of our modern economy.
Every day you hear about the results of the « CAC 40 » or the « Down Jones« . Many companies around the world rely on financial markets in order to fund their activities. Since the financial crisis of 2007/2008, everyone has heard of ‘subprimes’, ‘swaps’ and other weird names of financial products. In France, the Kerviel scandal (which lead to an epic lawsuit), renewed the touchy debate surrounding the wrongdoings of the financial world. However, who understands anything of this whole mess?
The course of Financial Law, taught by Professor Y. Paclot, sheds some light on these issues. Financial law focuses on the regulation of both uses of financials services and the relationships between the protagonists who operate within this sector. It would be quite difficult to explain you in details what do we learn during these weekly classes, so I’d rather tell you why I don’t regret my choice.
This class enabled me to acquire a better comprehension of what are the financial markets, why do they exist, what are their functions, why are they essential, who are the key actors in this field, why regulation is a significant role for the states etc. Most importantly, it’s really interesting within a legal point of view to demystify what is seen by everyone as an evil and gloomy world. Studying financial law gives you the tools to develop your personal opinion on financial markets.
Moreover, Pr. Paclot perfectly handles its subject and explains tough principles in simple ways:
« You all know Canada Dry right? It almost tastes like alcohol, but it’s soda. Well, it’s the same thing with hedge funds. They are almost companies but they’re not: they don’t have a complete legal personnality ».
To finish this article which is getting way too long, I will be more academic. Financial law is a fascinating subject because it completely blends many legal areas. Every time we must refer to our knowledge in corporate law, constitutional law, public law, european law, criminal law, but also (and mainly) to general civil law. I would say that financial law is an advanced use of contract law and property law. Today, I realize why during my entire second year each one of my professors used to repeat that we will use contract law in every legal field. ‘Forward contracts’, ‘usufruit’, or ‘conditional obligations’ are legal notions that now make more sense to me.
At the end of the day, financial law is a complex course because we barely have expertise in finance, but also because this legal area uses other legal concepts with a much more technical approach. Nonetheless, it is probably what renders this subject exciting.
At the beginning of the semester, it was pretty funny and reassuring to see that the twenty fourth-year students of the Master 1 were as much lost and troubled as Tom and I felt. Unfortunately, I guess that the upcoming final exam will be less funny.
SantiaGuél (GED 3).