Tales of Wearing Wigs and Visits to Courts, Parliament, Consulate and Barrister

The students and faculty of the WMU-Cooley Down Under Study Abroad are learning large by visiting as many legal venues around Melbourne as they could. So what’s the scoop on the wigs? And why do some judges wear them in Australia? What law students found out was that Judges from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia wear a plain black gown in court (without a wig) but the Judges of the Supreme Courts of the States and Territories of Australia do wear court dress similar to that worn by judges of the High Court of England and Wales, with the formality of full gowning and wigs.
Visiting everything the law has to offer in Australia was easy. The Law Center where students take classes sits right in the heart of the legal district of Melbourne. The Supreme Court of Victoria and the Magistrate Court are also just a five-minute walk away, and the Victoria Paliament is a 5-minute tram ride.  At the Victoria County Court, Chief Judge Peter Kidd met with students to  discuss his work and the cases and issues that arise in that court. The WMU-Cooley group got to sit in on a complex sentencing hearing.20160408_144841_Richtone(HDR)

Students then got to visit Parliament. They toured the upper and lower chambers and the most beautiful law library we have ever seen.  At the U.S. Consulate General office in Melbourne, professional foreign service staff explained their careers and how the consulate works to help U.S. citizens in Melbourne, including issuing visas to people who hope to visit the United States.

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Barrister Robert Miller met with the students in his law chambers office. He explained what a barrister does and how he is engaged by solicitors to represent clients in court.  Mr. Miller then brought out his robe, jabot, and wig, and let the students try them on! Although wigs are becoming optional, barristers in robes and wigs can be seen frequenting the streets around the courts. Not only was this a fun and fascinating way to spend a day in Australia, WMU-Cooley students and faculty now have a much greater understanding of Australian courts, legal systems, and wonderful traditions – including wigs!

 Kimberly E. O'Leary

Kimberly E. O’Leary

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly E. O’Leary is directing the law school’s foreign study program in New Zealand and Australia. She and her students are sharing their experiences throughout the Hilary 2016 semester.

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Filed under Faculty Scholarship, study abroad, Uncategorized

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