Student Reflections – Melissa Hoffman

Throughout the week, we have gotten a complete picture of white collar crime from all angles – a law firm, fraud investigations, the U.S. government, and the New South Wales District Court. One of the visits I was most excited about this week was our visit to the District Court because I wanted to find out how the legal system and courts in Australia are different from the United States.

One interesting difference is the distinction between a “barrister” and a “solicitor.” Attorneys in Australia are divided into two groups – solicitors and barristers. Law students in Australia complete a 5-year program and graduate as solicitors. Then, they can complete a 6-month program to be barristers. Barristers and solicitors work together to represent clients. When a person needs representation for a case, the person will hire a solicitor to research and write motions. Then, a barrister will be hired to speak on behalf of the client in the courtroom. Today, we were able to see barristers representing clients in a jury trial. Barristers wear wigs and black robes in the courtroom.

Another interesting difference is the layout of the courtrooms. In Australia, the defendant sits alone in a box directly across the room from the jury. In the U.S., a defendant will sit at the defense counsel’s table next to his or her attorney.

After visiting the Court on Thursday, I went horseback riding in Centennial Park, which is one of 3 parks in the world that has a trail specifically for horseback riding around the park. I rode an Appaloosa named Harley and had a great time.

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