And so we say farewell from Sydney, Australia. It has been a remarkable journey and an incredible week. Thank you to all who made it possible and to the students who were exceptional ambassadors of Southern Illinois University School of Law.
If I could sum up the past 10 days in just one word, that would be “wow.” It doesn’t even come close to fully capturing the experience, but it’s the best I could come up with in the past few hours sitting on this plane. We are now on our flight from Sydney to San Francisco, and I’m finally able to reflect on just how jam-packed of a week we’ve had. In my last few blog posts, I completely forgot to mention some of the cool things we had been doing, simply because every single experience was an awesome one. So my final blog post will be a bit of a recap of things that were missing from the first two.
1st – I’m usually a pretty picky eater, but as they say, “When in Australia” … I tried kangaroo, emu, AND crocodile. Kangaroo is delicious, but I will probably pass on the other two in the future. (a bit chewy)
2nd – Every person we met with over the course of this week was amazing. Just when I thought we’d talked to the person that loved their job and what they were doing the most, we met the next person. My favorite experience was probably meeting with the members of the U.S. Consulate in Sydney. The way the explained how their American jobs coincided with interests abroad really showed me just how globalized the world is becoming.
3rd – Baker & McKenzie: One of the world’s largest law firms (I believe it is the 2nd largest). The fact that Georgie Farrant took the time out of what I can only assume is an extremely busy schedule to prepare us the most informative power point presentation is amazing. This was something she was not required to do, nor was she getting paid to do, and she put hours worth of effort into ensuring that we got something out of it. Much thanks to her, and the entire firm of Baker & McKenzie for taking the time to meet with us about issue differences with Australia and the United States. – My favorite factoid learned during this presentation is why Australia doesn’t really have a reward system for “whistle blowers”. Because Australian lawyers don’t have contingency fees, there really is no incentive for lawyers to take on these types of cases. I just thought it was pretty neat when put into perspective like that!
All good things must come to an end. As I leave this place they call Australia, I can only hope it’s not a permanent goodbye. This was my second time in Australia, and I would not object to coming back for a 3rd trip anytime in the future. From meeting with corporate executives, to partners in global legal firms, to judges in Australia’s court system, this trip provided me with a very broad range of information. Our classroom focus was on international white collar crime and the increasing globalization of prosecuting those types of cases. All of the people we met with on this trip strongly confirmed this trend of globalization. Whether it be money laundering or a ponzi scheme, the reach of the white collar crimes seen today spans from the United States into all areas of the globe. We got to hear some firsthand accounts of these types of cases when we visited the U.S. Consulate.
After getting escorted through some intense security protocols (i.e. no bathroom visit without an escort), we met with various departments of U.S. law enforcement branches. Clearly, since they were based in Sydney they dealt with many Australian based crimes. However, all of the department members we spoke with had direct dealings in various parts of Asia as well. No one dealt with cases that focused only in Australia. Whether they were tracing crimes back to the U.S., or trying to follow the money trail from the U.S. to Australia to Asia to Columbia, the global presence of the scheme was crystal clear. It was fascinating to hear some of the “war stories” the agents spoke of. You can read about crimes in the newspaper, but it is 100 times more intriguing to hear it directly from the mouth of the person who investigated the crime and brought the criminals to justice. The U.S. Consulate visit was one of my favorite aspects of the trip. Even if you were not interested in what they were saying, which would have been impossible, the conference room overlooked Sydney Harbor from 60 some odd floors up. Apparently our taxpayer money works well in high-rent districts.
I leave this class with an even greater interest in white-collar crime. It is an area of the law that interests me greatly. I would like to work in the private sector investigating these corporate frauds someday down the line and I think this trip will be greatly beneficial in my pursuit of such a position. It was extremely motivating to see and hear firsthand what a day in that life would be like. Although I probably couldn’t afford to live in Sydney, there is only one way to find out. I can think of many worse places to live. This trip was simply incredible. I would recommend it to any law student or MBA student. My post-trip depression is setting in at full force. I better go look at some pictures to relive some of the memories.
P.S. I miss Bondi.
The trip to Sydney, Australia was the trip of a lifetime! Every moment of the trip was fantastic – except for maybe the 20-hour plane ride, but even that went flawlessly. Now that I’m back in Carbondale and looking at the pictures I took in Sydney, I really wish I was still there.
The last few days in Sydney were some of the best. On Friday, I spent the day visiting the Blue Mountains. One of the highlights of the Blue Mountain trip was feeding wallabies, emus, and kangaroos hay out of an ice cream cone at the zoo. We got a great view of the Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters after the fog cleared. The mountains were breathtakingly beautiful and made me appreciate the variety of landscapes Australia has to offer.
On Saturday, I went to Bondi Beach and had lunch with Professor Dervan and his family, Drew, Bill, and Tom. Afterwards, I went to Manly Beach and went scuba diving in the shark tank at the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. I swam alongside huge nurse sharks with rows of sharp teeth. The guide assured the divers the sharks were peaceful, but I couldn’t help but hope the sharks had been fed recently. There were also two sea turtles in the tank that had found a good home at the Sanctuary after they were injured in the ocean. The sting rays inside the tank were massive; one was the size of a queen-sized mattress. As I stood in the aquarium, the huge sting ray glided right over my head and brushed against my arm.
The last day in Sydney, I went to the Wild Life Sydney Zoo with Jessie to see the koalas. As we enjoyed a buffet breakfast, we watched the koalas munch on eucalyptus leaves right next to us. We pet the koalas, had our picture taken with them, and learned more about koalas from the zoo keeper. The zoo keeper told us koalas spend the majority of the day sleeping and their waking hours eating. Not a bad life. We also got a tour of the zoo before it opened to the public and saw a Tasmanian devil, a crocodile, wombat, kangaroos, wallabies, and reptiles native to Australia. Jessie and I were glad to see the Tasmanian devil come out of its hiding spot because we didn’t get a chance to see one at the Taronga Zoo. The zoo keeper told us Tasmanian devils are struggling in the wild because of a cancer they developed from pesticides used on crops. Zoos are working hard to establish a healthy Tasmanian devil population. We also learned the crocodile ended up at the zoo after it posed a problem at a popular picnic spot where it had been snatching picnickers’ dogs.
The trip to Australia was full of a variety of learning opportunities – white collar crime, Australian history, and wildlife. It was the chance of a lifetime and one I will never forget.
I still can’t believe I just spent 10 days in Australia (or that it is over already). The trip truly was an experience of a lifetime. For my final blog post I thought I would reflect a bit more on the white collar crime aspect of the trip and what we learned while we were there. I was so overwhelmed with how beautiful and amazing Australia was while I was there, I had a hard time talking about anything educational in my previous two posts, but I promise you that I learned plenty during my visit.
To start, I will note what I am sure several of my other classmates have already mentioned; Australia is much more lax on punishing white collar crime than the United States. We learned, especially from the Judge we met with, that white collar crimes that put people away for 30 years in the United States often get 2-4 years (or something similar) in Australia. While everyone we met with consistently reinforced the notion that Australia appeared to be moving towards stricter enforcement of white collar crimes, it was also the general consensus that Australia was not there yet. As our presenter from Ernst & Young jokingly (kind of) noted, crime does appear to pay . . . at least in Australia.
However, what is also worth noting is how close the Australians and the Americans work together to prosecute white collar crime. Many of our presenters noted that Australia takes many of their ideas for how to deal with white collar crimes/criminals from American law. Whether it was the Australian government taking the lead in prosecuting a criminal wanted in America or the United States reaching out to the Australian government, through the consulate, for help, it became very clear that you can run but you cannot hide. It will be interesting to see how Australia proceeds in the future and how quickly they will tighten their grip on white collar criminals.
While I am sad that the trip has already come to an end, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity. Professor Dervan perfectly planned and implemented this trip and without him the experience wouldn’t have been the same. In short, anyone reading this that may have the opportunity to partake in this class or go to Australia in general should leap at the chance. I can’t wait to go back some day!
Sydney is Expensive. Meals are hard to come by in The Rocks for less than $20 and even soft drinks will often be $5. But a short walk will find you great food at much more reasonable prices and we were learning our way around the city. Be prepared with cash, because many places have a high minimum bill for using credit cards or add fees for using them. People are very friendly here and the only obnoxious people I’ve noticed have been other tourists. The accents are not as thick as I was anticipating, or maybe I just got used to them. Anyway, it didn’t sound like “Crocodile Dunee” where I was.
The organized events for us were planned very well and I still had opportunity to get the major things done that I wanted to on my own. We hung out on the beaches at Manly and Bondi; we ate ’Roo on the roof of the hostel with fantastic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and visited the Taronga Zoo which exhibited the best variety of native and non-native wildlife. I had a ride on the Monorail which is slated to be taken down in June of this year. I walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens which were opened in 1816.
Lastly, I would like to thank Professor Dervan (Anne & Dalton included), Carol Manis, Judi Ray, Billie Donas, and everyone else who helped to plan this amazing trip. Everything went so well and I would highly recommend this trip to anyone with the opportunity to take it. There’s hardly a better way to use three elective hours.
I woke up this morning in my own bed and recovering from jetlag from another amazing trip to Australia. It is a place that captivates you, surprises you, and leaves you wanting more every time you go. The last time I went, I said it was the trip of a lifetime. Little did I know that just four years later, I’d have another trip of a lifetime with the SIU Law School.
This trip had it all. It was first and foremost a school trip, and was extremely educational in that regard. It was very interesting to talk to US Consulate enforcement personnel, lawyers, and consultants about the ways that international white collar crimes are perpetrated, and gave much insight into efforts to combat fraud and money laundering. It struck me how passionate all of the people we met with are about their jobs and the lengths to which they will go to bring these criminals to justice. I really enjoyed the Consulate visit, and may seriously consider looking at employment there after graduating. It was also educational from looking at the museums we visited. I was fascinated by the Police & Justice museum and its insight into the differences in the justice systems between the US and Australia, and how Australian law enforcement has changed over the last few centuries. As Australia was founded as a penal colony, the Hyde Park Barracks tour was also very interesting to see how the convicts would have lived.
However, the trip also had a lot of free time to explore the city built into the schedule, and that was a lot of fun as well. I especially loved going to Bondi Beach, with its breathtaking views and great waves. I will also never forget my 25th birthday, enjoying the sunset over Sydney at the Opera House Bar with a glass of wine. Finally, it was great to see my friends in Melbourne again, even if for a short time.
The trip as a whole came off without a hitch (except possibly the very end transportation to Carbondale). We had a great group of people go, and everything was very well planned out, making it easy to know where we were supposed to be.
Hopefully this is just one of several trips of a lifetime going to Australia. I think I enjoyed this trip even more than the last, just because it combined my interest of law with being able to explore Sydney more. Who knows, I may even call Sydney my home someday working with some of the people we met. For the last time, cheers mates!