Professor Gillian Triggs (pictured), who is also Sydney University’s law school dean, told Lawyers Weekly that the event positions Australia as a strong Asian operator in a legal environment dominated by global alliances.
She believes Australia’s saturated legal market requires lawyers to take a more global view.
“We will never survive, other than on a very parochial level, unless Australian lawyers have a legal education that prepares them to be genuinely globally-skilled lawyers,” she said.
“It is the only way we’re going to stay in the game of delivering legal services, both here and internationally.”
A total of 21 law deans will visit Sydney from 30 June to 1 July at the invitation of the Council of Australian Law Deans and hosted by the Sydney University Law School.
Exploring opportunities for joint research between China and Australia in areas such as energy and resources law, corporate law and financial regulation is on the agenda.
China’s poor human rights record will also be discussed, Professor Triggs added.
“We don’t intend to duck the human rights issue and many deans on the council are very keen to make the point about the human rights concerns we have in Australia,” she said.
As China slowly opens up to the rest of the world, Australian law students and university staff will have a more pivotal role in encouraging the country’s compliance with international human rights law, Professor Triggs continued.
“Laws around freedom of the press, freedom of association and appropriate criminal and civil procedures for breaches of the law are areas where China is evolving and these connections between universities will help strengthen the objective voice of lawyers that these rules must be complied with.”
Professor Triggs referred to Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, who made headlines when she was arrested by Libyan authorities on 7 June, as a prime example of the extent to which Australians are involved in the international legal environment.
“We have an enormous advantage in the sense that we speak English, operate in a common law legal system and have a very comprehensive understanding of the civil law system in the region,” she said.