Robert (Bob) Austin holds the degrees B.A., LL.B., LL.M. (Syd), D. Phil. (Oxon). After graduating in law and completing articles of clerkship in 1969, he worked in a corporate and commercial legal practice for two years and accepted an appointment as a Lecturer in Law at the University of Sydney in 1971. His full-time academic career extended over a period of 20 years. He was appointed Professor of Equity and Company Law in 1986 and became Head of the Department of Law.
In 1990 he accepted a partnership with Minter Ellison Solicitors, while continuing to teach part-time at the University of Sydney as Challis Lecturer in Corporate Law. His specialties were in corporate law, trusts and equity, mergers and acquisitions and financial services. He acted for ASX in the establishment of the CHESS settlement system and in the demutualisation of the AMP Society. He became a member of the Board of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority upon its establishment.
He was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1998, sitting in the Equity Division and sharing responsibility for the Corporations List with Justice GFK Santow. His judgments included a series of decisions in proceedings brought by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission against some of the directors of One-Tel, a failed telecommunications company.
After retiring from the bench in 2010, he returned to legal practice and has appeared and advised in some important cases in his fields of expertise.
The degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) was conferred on Dr Austin "in recognition of his extensive contribution to the practice of corporate and commercial law in Australia as well as his exemplary service to the academic sphere and the teaching of law", at a graduation ceremony at the University of Sydney on 11 December 2019.
Dr Austin is co-author of Ford, Austin and Ramsay’s Principles of Corporations Law (LexisNexis, 17th edition, 2018, and looseleaf), Austin and Black’s Annotated Corporations Act (LexisNexis, looseleaf), and Austin, Ford and Ramsay on Company Directors (2005), and many articles and papers on corporate law.