It was another kind of Roman holiday when law students from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome were guests of Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Thomas More Law School in Sydney.
For over three weeks 22 students undertook an intensive English language course at ACU’s English Language Centre and also studied various aspects of Australian law and legal culture.
At the District Court in Sydney they observed the workings of a criminal trial under Australia’s adversarial system of law, which is very different to the civil system of law found in Italy.
They also met some of Australia’s leading refugee lawyers and compared the legal framework around protecting the rights of refugees in Australia with the protection of refugee rights under Italian and European law.
Deputy Head of the Law School Dr Catherine Renshaw said the Italian students were struck by the way the law program at ACU engaged with the real world of legal practice, and appreciated the level of informality between students and teachers which is differs from the relationship between students and teachers in continental Europe.
The Roman students also sat in on lectures from Professor Terence Tobin QC and Sydney barrister Victor Kline, who runs the Sydney Law School’s pro bono Refugee Law Project with other members of the NSW Bar.
“[They] were fascinated to hear about the Law School’s pro bono program, which requires every ACU law student to commit to providing 160 hours of voluntary legal service,” Dr Renshaw said.
In addition to a walking lecture around Sydney Harbour led by Indigenous leaders students were introduced to Indigenous legal issues in Australia and to the current debates around reforming the Australian constitution.
“The Sydney Harbour Bridge in this beautiful city is like the Thomas More Law School – a link between students and their potential to further the common good,” said Lateran University’s Professor Michele Riondino.
The Roman holiday in Sydney was concluded with a farewell dinner for the students and their new friends at Luna Park.