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Heather Zordel

February 14, 2018

Roz Bahrami

At OsgoodePD, we frequently talk about our ‘top-notch’ and ‘world class’ instructors. But rather than talk about them, we thought we should introduce our incredible faculty to you.

As part of a new series, we’ll introduce you to members of the Osgoode Professional LLM faculty who direct, develop and lead our Specialization programs. Academics, judges, and legal experts – from around the world – considered to be some of the Canadian legal industry’s thought leaders

For the first installment of this series, we’re profiling Heather Zordel, Co-Director of the Osgoode LLM in Securities Law. Heather is Partner at securities group Gardiner Roberts and, of January this year, was elected as a bencher for the Law Society of Ontario (LSO).

Heather Zordel
Co-Director of Osgoode’s LLM in Securities Law


How long have you been involved as Faculty for the LLM in Securities Law at Osgoode?

I started my LLM in Securities Law in 1998. I was a lawyer with the Toronto Stock Exchange and I decided to enroll in the Osgoode LLM program to help transition into private practice – and I’ve been working in law firms since.

My class was the first class of the LLM in Securities Law at Osgoode. I graduated in 2000 and have been involved in the program ever since in a variety of forms and in various positions, from Adjunct Professor to now Co-Director.

What motivates you to be part of the Faculty for the LLM in Securities Law?

I like working with the students.
I like the value the program offers as far as helping people learn about specific areas of securities law. I also like that this program has the flexibility of helping individuals change their jobs and transition across industries or improve the work they’re doing and specialize their practice.

The LLM in Securities Law offers detailed, progressive training in securities law, that’s relevant and up-to-date with the current legal climate. I like that the LLM in Securities helps people improve their practice and specialize their work, whether they are working in government roles or whether they are in business. It’s relevant.

Who is this program for?

The LLM in Securities Law is a program that benefits different people from different circumstances. It attracts individuals with a wide range of experience and knowledge, from around the world. The LLM attracts people that have been in private practice for a couple of years and are looking to gain or develop a specialized knowledge in securities law.

Yes, there’s business lawyers and securities lawyers, but there’s also business executives and professionals with experience in securities. There’s roughly a 50/50 split of lawyers and experienced professionals. Knowing the law has become an important part of business, and it’s now becoming more important for people in business, who aren’t lawyers to know more about the law.

We’re now getting more students who have been trained in foreign jurisdictions, who are able to study either all or some program subjects as part of their Ontario licensing and bar accreditations. These students bring with them exceptional and unparalleled experience from other countries. Which is valuable to both the program and to the students, as there is a wealth of experience from a variety of industries and jurisdictions in every class.

Studying the LLM in Securities Law is a great crossover of experience for those trained in other jurisdictions as they can receive training and education more specific to their existing field of work. It’s especially helpful for foreign trained students, as they get development to get something more relevant to their professional experience, and qualifications, which helps them move towards achieving the type of employment they want to pursue in Canada.

Why do you recommend the LLM in Securities Law program?

The LLM is an effective means of education for learning about securities law and current issues affecting related industries in more detail. The LLM program structure is a better mechanism for learning; related and interconnected courses over a series of months, rather than a collection of varied conferences and professional development courses from a range of different providers that may overlap or leave gaps.

If you are working at a higher, executive level in business, and you want to deepen your legal knowledge, you don’t want to have to start back at square one and go through law school after you’ve already built your career to a senior or executive level. The LLM in Securities Law allows people with years of business experience to gain legal knowledge or knowledge on securities law, alongside trained lawyers and internationally trained lawyers over a two-year period.

With the LLM in Securities Law, these individuals who don’t necessarily practice law, get to hear from the legal experts in the securities field. Knowing you’re learning from the leaders in the field is a tremendous benefit and builds confidence in your practice and skills.

Myself and the faculty try to ensure that there is no overlap in our planned coursework and curriculum. That way we’re avoiding repetition, but we’re also able to cover more issues in the securities law space – which is wholly beneficial to the student, as they’re learning takes place across more topics and issues. They’re getting a broader understanding of securities law and its applications.

It’s also a great environment to teach. The students in the program are extremely motivated and completely immersed in the learning. They are here and completing their LLM because they want to be here, that in itself, is rewarding.

Has your involvement in the program benefited your practice?

My involvement in the LLM in Securities Law keeps my practice current and up–to-date. I have to do the work; I have to prepare the lectures for the students, and that information needs to be current and relevant.

Also, working with and alongside the Securities Law faculty at Osgoode has been extremely beneficial to my own practice and professional development. It is an incredible opportunity to network with the people I teach with. I get to work with experts in the sub specialties within securities law which has helped me vary my knowledge and expand my practice. I have been involved in policy development for the Canadian government’s Securities Regulation as a result of the people I’ve met through this program.

I was also just elected bencher of the Law Society of Ontario which is going to be an exciting learning curve. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do to help the organization; how we can work on the licensing of lawyers, bar regulations and continual regulation of the industry. Also, as the legal profession progresses and the world continues to change, working on how, as a legal association, we adjust to the changes and stay relevant. I get to pull in what I’ve learnt at Osgoode and apply that to my bench position at the Law Society of Ontario. And I can take what I learn at the Law Society of Ontario and apply it to the LLM in Securities program at Osgoode.

Want to know more about the Professional LLM in Securities Law? Sign up for an Information Session!