Peter is in his first year of a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) / Bachelor of Justice degree at Queensland University of Technology. He spent a day at the Supreme Court Library Queensland. The Supreme Court Library was established in 1862 to serve the judiciary and the legal profession in Queensland. Today, the Library maintains research and historical collections in Brisbane and in courthouses across Queensland, and continues to serve as the central law library for the state.
At the start of my justice journey at the Supreme Court Library Queensland, I met David, the Supreme Court Librarian. It was interesting to get his insight into the changing landscape of the library in the digital age. David emphasised that with the substantial demand for online and instant access to content in the 21st century, the library is evolving from the traditional library space towards a modernised space offering research services and study areas.
The library also manages the exhibitions held in the Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre, and I took a tour of the current exhibition In Freedom’s Cause, commemorating the lawyer-soldiers of World War One in a moving display of journals, images and information.
After my tour of the exhibition, I had the opportunity to speak with Katherine, the Judgments Services Manager. Most law students should be familiar with the Supreme Court Library case law service, but seeing it work from behind the scenes was very interesting. Katherine and her team are responsible for processing and uploading judgments, transcripts, legislation and criminal sentencing statistics – an absolutely vital service for those in and learning the profession.
Katherine also demonstrated how the Queensland Sentencing Information Service can be used to find past sentences for criminal offences. The service can display each different sentence handed down for an offence in graphs and then further lists the cases each sentence stemmed from. Even as a student, this is a recognisably important service for those working with this area of law.
Later in the afternoon, I had the chance to shadow two of the library’s researchers, Brendon and Marion as they worked. Solicitors and barristers submit research requests, and they find the required information. While I was there, we received an unusual request for cases and commentary on extra-curial punishment. Watching how the researchers approached such a broad topic and then narrowed down results to specific cases was incredibly informative and fascinating to watch.
In the evening, I attended a lecture on Sir William Blackstone in the Banco Court. The lecture was hosted by the Supreme Court Library Queensland as part of their Selden Society 2016 lecture series. The Selden Society aims to disseminate knowledge of English legal history throughout the legal profession, and the lecture definitely piqued my interest in the area. After the lecture there was time to meet and speak with members of the legal profession, including Justices of the Supreme Court.
I’d like to thank all the staff of the Library, especially Miriam, for accommodating and guiding me throughout the day, and for providing such an excellent insight into the challenges and work of the Supreme Court Library Queensland. My Justice Journey was an opportunity to experience and discuss the profession with the profession. Doing this so early in my degree has provided grounding for an exciting future in law!