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Corporate / Governance Practice - Australia

About this Practice Area
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Corporate / Governance Practice Definition

Corporate governance is the system by which business organisations are governed, encompassing the rules, relationships, policies, systems, and checks and balances by which businesses are managed. Corporate governance is a broad practice area extending to all aspects of the relationship between the enterprise and its directors, officers, shareholders, creditors, regulators, and other stakeholders. Robust corporate governance is critical to the integrity and efficient administration of an organisation.  

It involves all aspects of the life cycle of a business enterprise, from its incorporation to its dissolution and everything in between. Accordingly, corporate lawyers must be highly adaptive and be able to provide decisive legal advice in a broad range of circumstances to a broad range of officeholders, including the board, board committees, individual directors, executive officers, and to key management.  

Corporate lawyers must be intimately familiar with an enterprise’s constituent documents (such as its constitution and shareholders’ agreement), the fiduciary duties of officeholders, and have a strong understanding of the regulatory framework in which business organisations operate. In relation to a company, being the most typical structure, this means an in-depth understanding of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and associated regulatory policies.  

Whether an organisation (typically a company) is publicly listed or privately held also will dictate the scope of a corporate lawyer’s required knowledge. A corporate lawyer advising a publicly listed entity must also be experienced in ASX Listing Rules and the added complexity and scrutiny that come with being publicly listed.    

Corporate law extends well beyond only legal matters. An effective corporate lawyer will be expected to provide strategic commercial advice that is decisive and unambiguous and is delivered on time and budget and without getting in the way of their clients’ operations. 

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