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Studying Law in the Land Down Under

By Emeritus Professor Otto Stockmeyer
Prof. Otto Stockmeyer

Prof. Otto Stockmeyer

Otto Stockmeyer is an emeritus professor at Cooley Law School and a past president of the Legal Authors Society and of Scribes. This article is posted with permission of the Michigan International Lawyer and appeared in their Winter 2014 Edition.

Introduction

From January through mid-April of 2014, some lucky Cooley Law School second- and third-year students – along with guest students from other American law schools – are spending their winter semester studying Down Under in New Zealand and Australia. And for them it’s summer. Cooley’s ABA-approved “Down Under Foreign Study Program” is in its 16th year. The program combines one upper-division Cooley course, Equity & Remedies, with an array of international courses taught  by faculty members at two of the world’s top law schools: New Zealand’s University of Waikato and Monash  University in Australia. Monash’s law school is ranked 13th best in the world; Waikato’s is in the world’s top 100.

New Zealand

The first half of the program takes place at the University of Waikato. The university is located in Hamilton, New Zealand’s fourth largest city, located on the country’s North Island.

The formal name of the law school is the Te Piringa Faculty of Law. It was founded in 1990 on  the principles of professionalism, biculturalism, and the study of law in context. Te Piringa in the Maori language translates as the coming together of people. The name links the law faculty to the region’s indigenous Maori heritage.

New Zealand, along with most other Commonwealth countries, teaches law at the undergraduate level. The degree awarded is the Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Six New Zealand universities have law schools or (as they are called) “law faculties.”

Most of New Zealand’s law schools follow an open-entry policy. Any student enrolled in the university may elect to study law, usually after one “intermediate year” of university course work. Of those who elect to study law, about 20% make it past the first year. In contrast, Waikato does not have open entry or an intermediate year. Waikato accepts well-qualified law students directly from high school.

For full-time students, the LLB degree requires four years of study. Foundation courses have familiar names: Contracts, Torts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Evidence, etc. Equity, however, consists primarily of the study of trusts and wills.

Participants in the Down Under Foreign Study Program can chose among the following elective courses: Comparative and International Indigenous Rights, Comparative Chinese and Common Law Systems, Transnational Criminal Law, and International Trade Issues. Housing is offered in university dormitories.

Down Under, law generally is taught and tested like other undergraduate courses, through readings and lectures. Examinations are more expository than analytical. Waikato law students are advised to commit at least one hour of study and review for every hour of class. In the U.S., that expectation would be unrealistically low by a factor of two or three. For visiting American students looking forward to travelling the country, it’s welcome news.

Australia

In mid-February the program moves to Melbourne Australia. Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city with a population of more than 4 million people. There, Cooley’s program is affiliated with Monash University, Australia’s largest. The Monash law school is likewise the largest of Australia’s 36 law schools, with over 3,000 students. Monash offers not only the undergraduate LLB degree, as do most Australian law schools, but also postgraduate JD and LLM degrees.

The Monash JD program is structured much like the year-round program that Cooley Law School has employed for 40 years: three trimesters a year, with classes entering in January, May, and August. Full-time students graduate in three years, part-timers in four.

Monash’s JD and LLM classes are held in a modern facility in the heart of Melbourne’s legal center. Foreign Study students live in a nearby apartment hotel.

The courses that Foreign Study students can select from in Australia include Introduction to the Australian Legal System, International Criminal Justice, International Environmental Law, and Competition Law. The Equity & Remedies course carries over from New Zealand. All course credits and grades transfer back to Cooley Law School.

In both countries extracurricular professional activities are an integral part of the program. They generally consist of witnessing local court sessions, visiting a barrister’s chambers, and attending talks by leading governmental and judicial officials. Group social activities include in New Zealand, surfing at Raglan Beach and a pool party at the Dean’s residence, and trips to a wild animal sanctuary and a winery in Australia.

By the time exams are over in mid-April, fall will be arriving in Australia, signaling to program participants that it’s time to return to the good old U.S. of A.

About the Author
Otto Stockmeyer is an emeritus professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he has taught Contracts and Equity & Remedies for 35 years. He has also been a visiting professor at Mercer University Law School and California Western School of Law. He was fortunate to participate in Cooley Law School’s Down Under Foreign Study Program in 2005 and 2013.

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If All Of Your Friends Jumped Off A Bridge, Would You Too?

Nathan Chan

Nathan Chan

Nathan Chan participated in Cooley’s Australia/New Zealand Foreign Study Program and is a third year student at Cooley. This article is posted with permission of the Michigan International Lawyer and appeared in their Winter 2014 Edition.

There I was, sitting atop the guardrail of the Kopua Footbridge in the laidback surfing town of Raglan, New Zealand, psyching myself up to jump into the water 20 feet below, just as local children have done for 50 years. The adventurous part of me was thinking, “This will be fun,” while the rational part of me was thinking, “You can’t swim . . . are you crazy?!” Then the clear tie-breaker came to me: “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” With a mental shrug of the shoulders, I launched myself off the bridge, and I’m glad I did – it was an extraordinary memory that I will be able to share with my future children and grandchildren!

Jumping off the Kopua Footbridge was just one of the unique things that I experienced while studying abroad in New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand, I attended a Maori cultural hangi feast (similar to a Hawaiian luau), went tubing in the Waitomo glowworm caves, and visited Hobbiton (the movie set used in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit). During the 8 weeks we spent in Melbourne, Australia, we attended numerous events in and around the city: the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition, where one student actually bumped into Kelly Slater, a surfing legend; the Australian Grand Prix; White Night, an all-night art, music, and culture festival; Suzuki Wednesday Night Market, featuring international food stalls and live music; Chinatown Night Market, featuring food stalls and arts and crafts; and Viva Victoria Multicultural Festival, where we enjoyed international food stalls and live music and dancing. While in Australia, I took a weekend trip to Kangaroo Island, where I watched a pelican-feeding show, visited the wind-sculpted “Remarkable Rocks,” and, perhaps most extraordinarily, went sledding down sand dunes!

Not only were the courses interesting and the locations magnificent, but the professors were top-notch. Our Indigenous Rights professor, Valmaine Toki, is currently a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Gideon Boas, who taught the International Criminal Justice course, was a senior legal officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where he worked as an advisor for the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, among others. Our International Trade Issues professor, Sadeq Bigdeli, has worked with the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. And Alexander Gillespie, our International Law professor, was a former rapporteur for the World Heritage Convention, and has worked with the UN in other capacities.

Our professors were not the only distinguished legal professionals that we met; the 2013 program included several extra-curricular events where we met and interacted with other inspiring and influential attorneys. At the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, we had the opportunity to speak with the city’s mayor about the abundant opportunities for foreign lawyers to practice in New Zealand, followed the next week by a Justice of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand, who shared his experiences from around the world. We even had the opportunity to speak with a former Prime Minister of New Zealand! The fact that such accomplished people were willing to come speak with the 20 of us law students really demonstrated the friendly and hospitable nature of New Zealanders.

Despite the high cost of living Down Under, there are numerous advantages to studying abroad. Sure, everything is expensive in Melbourne, and the prices in New Zealand reflect the cost of importing nearly everything to an island country in the South Pacific. But when else would a student be able to stay on holiday long enough to see and do everything that the destination has to offer, while also earning school credits? My advice to law students is this: Before you graduate, begin working, and have no time to travel, participate in a study abroad program in a country that you have always wanted to visit. The rest is simple: take the plunge!

About the Author
Nathan Chan is a 3L student at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He has a passion for public international law, with special emphasis in education, economic and social development, and environmental protection.

 

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Cooley Going to the Land Down Under Again in 2014

DSCF0995By Emeritus Professor Otto Stockmeyer

Professor Otto Stockmeyer has taught at Cooley since 1977 and as a visiting professor at two other law schools in the ’80s and ’90s.  He also taught in Cooley’s Australia-New Zealand Foreign Study Program in 2005 and 2013.

Beginning January 6, 2014, some lucky Cooley second- and third-year students will take their Hilary term classes “Down-under” in Australia and New Zealand as part of Cooley’s Foreign Study Program.   And it will be summer.

Their elective courses will have an international flavor, taught by faculty members from two of the world’s top law schools: Monash University in Australia and New Zealand’s University of Waikato.  Monash’s law school is ranked 13th best in the world; Waikato is in the world’s top 100.

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Participants will also have the opportunity, if they wish, to take Equity & Remedies taught by Cooley’s own Professor Charles Palmer.  All credits and grades will transfer back to Cooley.

Professor Terry Cavanaugh and I accompanied this year’s group of twenty students (17 from Cooley and 3 guest students from other American law schools).   We can attest that they learned a lot that can’t be found in books.  You can read blog posts from Cooley student Teddy Eisenhut and from guest student Luke Pears-Dickson.   And student Michelle Zurcher wrote posts in 2012 about the wonderful people she met while Down-under, and gave us some practical tips for taking the long trip away from home.

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Professor Cavanaugh will be accompanying our foreign study students again in 2014 as the onsite program administrator.

Students who wish to know more should visit Cooley’s Australia/New Zealand Foreign Study webpage.  They should not delay; enrollment is capped at 40 students.  Applications received after October 15 will be considered only if space is available.

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Oh yes, and it will be summer!

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