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Exchanging countries

Exchanging countries

Studying law can leave little time for anything else, but for students with a desire to travel or broaden their experiences, going on exchange might be just the ticket, reports Sarah Sharples.…

Studying law can leave little time for anything else, but for students with a desire to travel or broaden their experiences, going on exchange might be just the ticket, reports Sarah Sharples.

Denmark, France, Italy and London are among the destinations where Australian students can immerse themselves in a different country, while earning credits towards their law degrees.

Tim Leoncilli, now a lawyer at Middletons, travelled to Denmark in 2005 to complete a semester at Aarhus University. He says the exchange was a perfect way to combine travel and study without having to lose any time completing his degree back home at Deakin University.

"It was an amazing experience, something that will stick with me for life and I made some lifelong friends and lifelong memories," he says.

Tim's fellow students were from Canada, Spain, Ireland and North America, and he lists his top travel destinations as Italy, Scotland and England. He says the experience also gave him a competitive edge when looking for his first job.

"It helped in my being recruited and securing my articles because it's a great thing to have on your resume, it's a bit of talking point with interviewers and employers, and just shows independence and initiative," he says.

For Allens Arthur Robinson lawyer Shalini Shanthikumar, a four-month stint in Italy at Monash University's Prato campus was well-suited for travel because subjects were delivered in three-week blocks.

Subjects she undertook included anti-trust law, international commercial arbitration and the law of financial transactions, which were taught by a mix of lecturers from Monash and the University of Paris as well as the managing partner of Mallesons Stephen Jaques in London.

The subjects were taught with a comparative component between Australian law and overseas law - which has helped Shalini in practice, she says.

"When you read about [how the] European Union laws work, it might not be something you picked up on... because [at home] they would have just taught Australian law or would have just mentioned generally European law or other types of foreign law," she says.

"Whereas now I have practice searching [European Union] websites, their databases and being somewhat more familiar with it - which is quite important in practice because you might have clients that are overseas-based or clients that want to know [the] overseas implications of their actions."

Elizabeth Day, also a lawyer at Allens Arthur Robinson, was lucky enough to go on two exchanges during her time at the University of Melbourne.

In her third year she visited France to attend the Universite Jean Moulin in Lyon, and then took a year off to work in a law firm in London as a secretary. In her final year she was in the first intake from the University of Melbourne to attend the Centre for Transnational Legal Studies, which is located in London but run by Georgetown University in Washington.

She says it was particularly interesting meeting people from Israel, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, France, America and Canada, as well as learning from high quality lecturers.

"The professor for my international investment law class was the guy who had written the book on international investment law and was really at the forefront of developing new theories about how the Third World should be incorporated [into international law]," she says.

"We had a colloquium, which is a lecture, from Philip Sands, who had written articles in Vanity Fair about the Bush government and torture in Guantanamo and Iraq.

"You've got the opportunity, because you're in London in a leading American school, to hear from people who might not come all the way out to Australia and to Melbourne."

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