Student Testimonials

Geneva Sekula, Edward McGinness and Lisa Gao

Cornell University

Cornell Exchange

Geneva Sekula, Graduate, Allens
The campus at Cornell Law School is beautiful, full of waterfalls and gorges, and the libraries have a distinctly Harry Potter vibe about them which I thoroughly enjoyed. The atmosphere was always upbeat, and Cornell always had interesting speakers and activities for the students. Over the first few weeks alone we celebrated Homecoming, went to a tailgate party, went on a beautiful hike, went apple picking and much more. It felt like there was always something new to do or see.

One of the best parts of exchange was meeting other law students from all over the world. I had the opportunity to study with some of the most intelligent, diverse and interesting people I think other universities had to offer. We went on trips together - little adventures to Philadelphia, Chicago, a fall break trip to Disneyworld, and some of my best friends now live scattered in different corners of the world.

I was also happy to be able to engage in courses that really interested me, with professors who had distinguished careers. I took Employment Law, International Human Rights Law, Feminist Jurisprudence and War Crimes Trials and found the American style of classes and the American perspective on law quite different and engaging. I think going on exchange helped me to feel more confident outside of my comfort zone, and to feel more confident just striking up conversations with people I don't know. I've found that to be quite valuable in the transition from uni to the professional world, as it's always good to feel comfortable in a new environment. The socratic style they use over there (yes, Legally Blonde was accurate in some ways) also helped me to think on my feet and respond quickly and confidently under pressure.

My time at Cornell was the highlight of my time at university. I could not recommend going on exchange more.

Edward McGinness, Graduate, King & Wood Mallesons
I came back from my exchange semester with experiences I could never have expected, and the expectations I did have were vastly exceeded.

What I knew exchange could provide was exposure to world class education from teachers who are leaders in their fields internationally. In this I certainly was not dissapointed. Whether it was being taught the nuance of human rights law from a renowned legal advisor to the United Nations or how to best sway a jury in a murder trial from a professor who had made a career out of death penalty appeals, I was constanty impressed by what was on offer.

What I didn't know exchange could provide was the sheer array of inspiring people who would become long-lasting friends. The program exposes to you people of all walks of life from not only across the diverse corners of the US but from all corners of the globe. Learning from the unique experiences of these people was an enriching experience both academically and personally.

What I know now is that on top of the amazing personal experiences and quality education, an exchange is an invalubale asset professionally as well. Setting yourself apart from the crowd of applicants can be hard when leaving university and employers are constantly looking for unique experiences and skills that graduates can provide. An exchange semester can definitely assist in bringing those elements to the table and in my experience employers value applicants who have thrown themsleves into new experiences and exposed themselves to different ways of thinking.

I would recommend exchange to anyone who is considering it, and urge those who aren't to think again.

Lisa Gao, Graduate, Allen & Overy
I undertook an exchange to Cornell University in my final semester of law school. I was interested in the practice of law in the US and thought a semester studying abroad would give me valuable insights into the American legal system and allow me to meet like-minded people from all around the world.

My exchange experience at Cornell surpassed all my expectations. Academically, I cannot speak highly enough of the courses offered by Cornell Law School, nor the quality of the lecturers who provide them. During my semester, I reviewed and learned about the various contracts used in real estate transactions, taught by partners from the New York City office of the international law firm Paul Hastings; I stood up and practised the skills of trial advocacy, ultimately running a full day mock-trial alongside my fellow students; and I learned about the nuances of international commercial arbitration in a truly international setting, sitting among LLM students from around the world.

If academic enrichment wasn’t incentive enough, the friends I made on exchange really are friends for life. Together, we roamed the huge campus, studied in the Law School’s incredible, Hogwarts-Great-Hall-esque reading room, and drove down to New York City every chance we had.

Professionally, as a graduate at a global law firm which works predominantly on multi-jurisdictional matters, the understanding Cornell gave me of how law is practiced on an international level has been invaluable.

Exchange is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I found my exchange to Cornell to be academically, socially and professionally rewarding.

Zhongyi Wang, Graduate, Herbert Smith Freehills

National University of Singapore

Zhongyi Wang

I went on exchange to Singapore because I wanted to see more of our region. I had been to Singapore twice before but felt that I did not have a proper understanding of the country from my brief trips.

My experience allowed me to grow personally. Living out of home for the first time gave me a new-found sense of independence and taught me to be self-sufficient for everything. My semester abroad also enabled me to meet new friends from Singapore, other parts of Asia, other parts of Australia, Europe, and even as far afield as Brazil. Travelling with them throughout Southeast Asia was a highlight of my experience.

During my semester abroad, I experienced a different teaching style with a lot of in-class hands-on activities and take-home exams. I also immersed myself fully in Singapore’s culture by sampling the local food, learning Singlish (the colourful local variant of English), visiting its many museums, and taking part in celebrations such as National Day and Chinese New Year. I also joined the NUS Wind Symphony where I played and performed an assortment of Asian and Western pieces.

My exchange has also been highly beneficial to me professionally. I stayed in Singapore after the conclusion of my semester at NUS for an additional three months to work at Herbert Smith Freehills’ Singapore office. As the sole paralegal there, I gained valuable experience working in a broad range of practice areas and liaising with local counsel throughout the region.

Bradley Smith, Tipstaff in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of NSW

Trinity College, Dublin

Bradley Smith

Academically, the exchange was beneficial because I was exposed to very different legal subject matter that was a new iteration of foundational common law principles. Topics ranged from Irish media law to the economic analysis of EU competition law, and being exposed to a range of completely new areas of law was of great comparative interest and academic benefit.

Culturally, exchange is a brilliant experience. The majority of the people you meet on exchange are fellow exchange students, so you get to meet people from all over the world. My best friends from exchange are from Hong Kong and from France, and I met people from all over the world. For the month after my exchange finished, I travelled around France staying at the homes of friends I had made, and even stayed with a friend in Luxembourg. That cultural exposure was one of the most valuable parts of the whole experience for me.

I think the exchange has also been of benefit professionally, chiefly by the growth in maturity and perspective the experience gives you. Those attributes are beneficial to the quality of your work in any workplace, and your ability to build strong working relationships. More to the point, though, is that one feels pressure from the law school environment to focus only on study and work. Whilst those things are important, your growth as a person and the range of experiences you have had in life are equally, if not more, important. I am glad I had that realisation in time to apply for exchange, and I am very glad that I decided to challenge myself to have the experience, because it was absolutely brilliant. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a deeply fulfilling experience, in a way that you simply don’t get from travelling as a tourist, and which you certainly don’t get in daily life in Sydney.

Anastasia Mihailidis, Lawyer, Allen & Overy

University of Vienna

Anastasia Mihailidis

Exchange was something that I was interested in from the moment I started university. I had always wanted to live overseas and study, even if for a short period of time, as I thought this would be essential not only for my personal development but also to teach me how to adapt to foreign environments and to understand different perspectives, which is now demanded of many Australian lawyers who commonly work on matters across a range of jurisdictions.

Studying in Vienna exposed me to more than I could have ever imagined. I learnt so much about EU law and the Austrian legal system which I found very interesting as it was so different to Australian law and which I know will be very useful for a career in international commercial law in the long run. I made lifelong friendships with people from all around the world who I still communicate with daily and I was able to immerse myself into the cultural life of a city where going to the opera on a weeknight or visiting palaces for a picnic on the weekend is customary.

Alice Gardoll, Solicitor, Herbert Smith Freehills

Utrecht University

Alice Gardoll

My passion for international law is what drove me to apply for exchange at Utrecht University. At Utrecht, I could enrol in Master's level courses, and had the opportunity to study specialised public international law topics that I have always been fascinated by, such as War Law, Counter-terrorism and Security Law. The quality of teaching at Utrecht was excellent, with lecturers ranging from leading academics, to legal advisors in European militaries and prosecutors in international tribunals. The knowledge I gained as a result of studying at Utrecht encouraged me to undertake an honours thesis at Sydney Law School, on the legal ramifications of foreign fighters entering Iraq and Syria.

But for me, exchange was a lot more than just studying. Whilst in the Netherlands I made lifelong friends from across the world, travelled to a different European city almost every fortnight, and grew to regard Utrecht as my own European ‘hometown’, a place I really knew, rather than somewhere I had briefly travelled through. Embracing Dutch culture, whether bike riding, boating on canals or eating exceptionally good cheese, was a very special part of my exchange. I look back on my semester abroad fondly, and really believe that it has advanced my academic and professional goals. I would recommend the experience unreservedly.

Domenic Cucinotta, Solicitor, King & Wood Mallesons

Bucerius Law School

Domenic Cucinotta

I was interested in undertaking an exchange semester in the final year of my LLB in order to meet new people from different parts of the world, learn about a different domestic legal system and undertake further study in international law. Happily, my semester on exchange at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany ticked all of these boxes.

While at Bucerius I was able to take a mix of courses taught by leading academics and practitioners in their field. I took courses in white collar crime, international banking law, international commercial arbitration, German corporate law and corporate governance. All of the courses integrated elements of international and domestic law and were the logical extension of the knowledge and skills I acquired while at Sydney Law School. It is somewhat surprising how often the principles learned and cases studied on exchange at Bucerius help in my day to day practice at King & Wood Mallesons. Commercial practice is becoming increasingly globalised and a solid foundation in international law (both public and private) and an appreciation of foreign legal systems, from both the civil and common law traditions, are invaluable.

In addition to the academic side of the exchange, it was also a fantastic opportunity to live abroad and make life long friends from around the world. Admittedly, I did not know much about Hamburg before going for my exchange, but it is a vibrant and vivacious port city in the north of Germany with many interesting attractions, including the world's largest model train, and plenty of restaurants and bars. Hamburg is also a short train ride or flight away from the rest of Europe so weekend trips were easy to arrange and accomplish.

Bucerius is one of the leading universities in Germany and every year they send their third year students away on exchange to a number of partner universities. In return, Bucerius receives about 110 exchange students from those universities and runs an International and Business Law Exchange Program, taught in English for those incoming students. This turned out to be a masterstroke since exchange students at Bucerius not only get to meet other students from Germany, but also have the chance to expand their network throughout the world, to places as varied as Argentina, Iceland, Spain, Singapore and the USA (to name but a few). The diversity of students on the exchange program at Bucerius is a significant advantage since they each bring a different perspective to the table and make classes dynamic. Whenever I get the chance to go overseas there is always a friend from Bucerius to catch up with and reminisce about our exchange experience.