Professor Andrew Verstein enjoys helping students and the public clarify complicated concepts
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Office of Communications and Public Relations
March 17, 2014
When Professor Andrew Verstein took contract law classes at Yale Law School, he didn’t expect to discover his passion for the subject he now teaches, and characterizes, as ”vitally exciting.”
“I think it’s a joyful thing, to take a muddle and make it clear,” he said. “”I was a philosophy major as an undergraduate, and that’s what you do: clarify concepts. Actually, that’s what a lot of lawyering is. Clients come to you with a goal, and you have to translate that goal, which is muddled.”
Verstein joined Wake Forest Law in July 2013 from Yale Law School, where he was the John R. Raben/Sullivan & Cromwell Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Corporate Law.
An assistant professor who teaches Business Associations, Contracts, Financial Services Regulation and Securities Regulation, Verstein’s research focuses on contract law and financial regulation.
In 2008, he published one of the first legal papers on crowd funding, a popular and fairly new method of online fundraising. He has also examined the manipulation of markets through price indices, such as LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate, which was the subject of criminal settlements by Barclays Bank in 2012.
“Just this week the FDIC filed a massive suit against the Libor banks,” he explained. “In some ways, the best is yet ahead.”
Verstein often discusses financial topics through a legal lens on CNBC’s Squawk Box and Worldwide Financial Exchange, and in Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.
“I get a lot of joy out of helping people see through that muck and find out what’s really going on,” he said. “I see that as important for my students, who can’t possibly help their financial clients if they don’t understand what these concepts mean, or what these contract terms mean.”
Helping law students negotiate that territory is particularly important, he said. This gives Wake Forest Law an opportunity to perform a valuable service and take a leadership role in training the next generation of lawyers.
While he is happy to be putting down roots in North Carolina, Verstein believes that it’s important to keep one’s antennae trained on world culture.
During his first year of law school at Yale, he interned for a Chinese legal aid organization in Beijing that represented children and rural migrant workers who had been mistreated. That experience gave him a front row seat for the explosive growth of China. He saw tall buildings appear out his office window virtually overnight.
“China is where the action is. So, I thought it would’ve been irresponsible for me, as a person with some freedom and movement, to not try to become familiar with this enormously important part of human history. China’s rise is the most momentous thing of my lifetime, and so it’s important that I become, if not linguistically fluent, then at least culturally fluent.”
That experience led to teaching stints at Fudan University and East China University of Political Science & Law in Shanghai.
Verstein was attracted to Wake Forest Law for its creative, supportive and pleasant environment. He and his wife, Lynn, recently welcomed a baby girl, their first child, into their family.
“For people who are bringing a child into the world or for a young scholar you can’t ask for a better thing than a good community,” he said. “These are complicated times for legal education, but we have great leadership here.”
That sense of community is important to students as well, Verstein added.
“When I went to a meeting concerning the upcoming transformation of the Worrell Professional Center, I saw the room was full of students. They were happy, they asked questions and their opinions mattered. That is not how it is everywhere.”