Corrs Chambers Westgarth lawyer James Whittaker to join faculty.

Prominent litigation specialist James Whittaker will bridge an academia-practice gap as he joins the University of Sydney Law School in a new, adjunct role, ‘practitioner-in-residence’.

For the equivalent of one day a week, Mr Whittaker, a Partner at leading independent law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, will focus on external engagement and student activities.

In coordination with Sydney Law School Dean, Professor Simon Bronitt, Professor Jason Harris (academic sponsor), and Peter Finneran (Head, Strategic Partnerships and Engagement, Sydney Law School), Mr Whittaker will assist with student research projects, teaching, and mentoring, as well as lead a Corrs public seminar series.

Sydney Law School Dean, Professor Simon Bronitt, explained the value of the scheme and mused on its potential future. “Our latest Strategic Plan, Reimagining Sydney Law School 2020-2025, has intensified our focus on external engagement. The Corrs initiative will allow us to build closer links with the profession,” he said.

“We are also hopeful that this new, practitioner-in-residence venture will provide a template for other short-term adjunct practitioner-type positions, including judge-in-residence. This will complement our longstanding program of visiting Japanese judges.”

James Whittaker said: “Young lawyers are vitally important to our firm and the future of the legal profession, and I am delighted to be working with Sydney Law School as its first practitioner-in-residence.”

In addition to the abovementioned activities, Mr Whittaker will assist with student extra-curricular initiatives, such as judging student competitions; collaborate with academics on assessment and curriculum development and marking; and help to build on the law school’s indigenous program by bringing his experience working with indigenous communities to the role.

Mr Whittaker specialises in complex and high-profile litigation including regulatory and white collar, investigations and commissions, commercial disputes and class actions.

The Sydney-Corrs partnership

The semester-long practitioner-in-residence role forms part of a broader, year-long partnership between Sydney Law School and Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Among other activities, it will comprise panel events in which former Corrs lawyers share their experiences of achieving success at the law firm and beyond. The inaugural event comprised ex-partners of Corrs who have gone on to fulfil roles in other areas and included a current judge, the former president of The Law Society of New South Wales, and a former anti-apartheid campaigner in South Africa.

The partnership also encompasses a mentoring program led by Sydney Law School academics, for junior Corrs lawyers interested in research. Academics will assist the lawyers to develop research papers, to help them expand their professional skills.