Students Get Inside Look at New York Stock Exchange
The opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange marked the start of a memorable field trip for a group of 15 University of Virginia School of Law students last week.
Students in Professor Andrew Vollmer's Advanced Topics in Securities Regulation and SEC and Class Action Securities Enforcement seminars toured the NYSE to gain a better understanding of the purposes and effects of regulation of exchanges.
"Our visit introduced us to senior management of the exchange who provided us with a detailed history of the NYSE," said Alex Cohen, a third-year law student in the Advanced Topics seminar.
They also toured VIP areas of the exchange building, including the board room, and spoke with a Barclays Designated Market Maker, whose role the students had studied. The first two weeks of the Advanced Topics course focused on the regulation of exchanges and broker-dealers, said Cohen and classmate Steve Candido, who called the tour "incredibly memorable."
"In the midst of buying and selling millions of dollars of securities, [the DMM] walked us through his workstation, which provided us a first-hand look of how he coordinates buyers and sellers," Candido said.
Unlike other exchanges, such as NASDAQ, which now operates solely through electronic trading, the NYSE has maintained a human component. The DMMs, who work on the exchange floor, buy and sell the stock of several different companies to smooth price and volume fluctuations.
"The trading floor still has live operators and traders despite the fact that all trades are channeled through various digital platforms," Cohen said. "The DMM noted that his presence on the floor provides participating issuers in the exchange the confidence that if something actually went wrong, the human eye would be there at the center of it to step in."
LL.M. student Jing Yan, who was a transaction lawyer dealing with overseas IPOs before coming to UVA, had visited stock exchanges in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia in the past.
"This was my first time at the NYSE, and it was very different from other overseas stock exchanges," Yan said. "I was so impressed by the busy and excited atmosphere within the hall of the trading floor. It was a good opportunity for us to combine what we have learned from class with what we saw in practice, which helps us better understand how stock markets work."
The students also saw a live CNBC interview program.
Vollmer, who is director of the John W. Glynn, Jr. Law & Business Program, said after two hours at the exchange, students toured other sites in Manhattan and had lunch at Fraunces Tavern, the site where George Washington bid farewell to his officers after the Revolutionary War.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.