Law Week 2017 Justice Journeys

Roberto

Roberto completed two days at the Supreme Court Library Queensland brushing up on his legal research skills.

Roberto is in his second last year of a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at the University of Queensland. He spent two days at the Supreme Court Library Queensland where he conducted legal research, attended a talk by a judge and even got a sneak peek at the library’s upcoming exhibition about Queensland’s legal system and the foundations of law.

My Justice Journey at the Supreme Court Library Queensland in Brisbane was an eye opening experience. I had the opportunity to meet the amazing team that manages and administers all of the library’s services ranging from legal research, publishing the decisions of the Queensland Courts and Tribunals, community education and even installing exhibitions.

At some point, traditional libraries were a hushed hub of books and tables – today, a number of library services occur online.At some point, traditional libraries were a hushed hub of books and tables – today, a number of library services occur online.

My journey kicked off with a legal research seminar conducted by the library’s Community Education Coordinator, Kirsten Murray. I was able to brush up on my legal research skills and also learn new research techniques relevant to my legal studies.

Following this, I met the Supreme Court Librarian, David Bratchford, to talk about the library’s services and its future direction. It was very interesting to learn about the library’s role supporting the judiciary, legal profession and self-represented litigants to promote access to justice. David discussed how web-based content and electronic media have changed the dynamic in which the library operates. In the past, traditional libraries were a hushed hub of books and tables – today, a huge portion of the library’s services, including document delivery, reference enquiries and even complex legal research, occur online.

Research and Training Librarian, Brendon Copley, gave me a tour of the library space on level 12 of the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law. The tour included exploring the extensive print collection, using the public PCs and WiFi services to get free access to online legal databases and subscription services, and viewing the private study rooms, meeting and conference facilities available to library visitors free of charge.

Roberto pictured with Research and Training Librarian, Brendon Copley (right) says his time at the Supreme Court Library has shaped his understanding of the legal profession and his career prospects.Roberto pictured with Research and Training Librarian, Brendon Copley (right) says his time at the Supreme Court Library has shaped his understanding of the legal profession and his career prospects.

I spent some time with Collection Management Librarian, Sean Pybus, getting an introduction to the library collection and how to use the catalogue.

Principal Librarian Collections and Services, Carlo Iacono, was generous enough to let me shadow the Information Services team and work on legal research enquiries submitted by lawyers. This opportunity gave me a hands-on understanding of the library’s services and also tested my legal research skills.

Acting Caselaw Heritage and Education Services Manager, Katherine Graff, walked me through the library’s role in managing the CaseLaw databases. This included the unreported judgments and decisions of Queensland courts and tribunals, and the Queensland Sentencing Information Service. It was a unique experience to see how judicial decisions and legal information are published so they can be accessed by legal professionals and law students such as myself.

A guided online tour of CaseLaw databases with Legal Research and Training Officer, Rose Barrett (left). A guided online tour of CaseLaw databases with Legal Research and Training Officer, Rose Barrett (left).

In addition to learning about the library’s information services, I also had the opportunity to learn about their commitment to preserving Queensland’s legal history through the heritage and education programs. The library houses legal artefacts including judicial wigs and robes which are currently displayed in the library’s foyer. Katherine explained the importance of preserving Queensland’s legal heritage in order to appreciate the evolution of our current legal system.

The library also manages legal exhibitions at the Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre which will soon showcase an installation aimed at school students and community members interested in expanding their knowledge of significant developments that have shaped the law in Queensland. Curator, Samantha Faulkner, was kind enough to talk to me about the challenges and importance of educating the community about the law. To top it off, I had the rare opportunity of an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre before it reopens in mid-May, just in time for Law Week.

A behind the scenes tour of the Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre reopening in mid-May. A behind the scenes tour of the Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre reopening in mid-May.

As well as learning about the library, I also had the chance to attend a talk by His Honour Judge Anthony Rafter SC. As a third year law student who has read dozens and dozens of judicial decisions, I was very keen to talk to a real judge about his day-to-day tasks and journey to becoming a judge. This experience allowed me to see a judge under a different light, stripped from robes and wigs; and have an informal conversation about the legal profession.

I concluded my Justice Journey with a deeper understanding of the library’s role in supporting the legal community, which I aim to be part of in the near future. All this of would not have been possible without the help and guidance of Communications Officer, Mary Healy and Corporate Support Manager, Miriam Moss, throughout my Justice Journey. My time at the Supreme Court Library Queensland has definitely helped shape my understanding of the legal profession and career prospects.