ABN moves to defuse skills crisis

Dutch investment banking giant ABN Amro has responded to the drought in the market for derivatives lawyers by rolling out a unique training programme for its in-house finance lawyers.

The bank, which has bolstered its in-house legal team in the past 12 months, has called on Clifford Chance to implement the training in its Hong Kong, London and New York offices in order to equip all its in-house finance lawyers with derivatives experience.

ABN global head of legal John Collins told The Lawyer: “While the bank is continuing to recruit derivatives lawyers, the market is tight for quality derivatives lawyers. We also believe our in-house lawyers should be given better career development opportunities.”

As first reported in The Lawyer (17 October), there are plenty of in-house vacancies in areas such as derivatives and structured products, but there are not enough lawyers to meet the demand.

One senior in-house lawyer at a major US bank said: “There has been a proliferation in derivatives work, so a lot of banks are hiring junior finance lawyers and giving them derivatives training on the job. ABN is formalising what other banks are already doing.”

F&C Asset Management’s director of legal services Gillian Switalski said: “Derivatives are now being used in so many vehicles, it’s difficult to find good [private practice] lawyers to instruct on complex transactions.”