Course: Master of Laws (LL.M)
Institution: University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Current position: Partner, owner, attorney-at-law at SIRIUS advokater, and Court Mediator, Denmark
“It’s something that stays with you the rest of your life”, says Benjamin Lundström of his time in Australia. “There is nothing like it”.
Lundstöm, an LLM alumni of the University of New South Wales, is now Court Mediator and Chairman of the Danish Mediator Lawyers, a position which he says is a direct consequence of his Australian studies. Lundström is among the first in Denmark – there are a team of 46 – working in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), i.e. non-litigious dispute resolution. Seeing how ADR was done in Australia, he explains, made him realise its pertinence to the Danish system. As part of his degree, Lundström learned common law (Denmark uses civil law) which has proved invaluable to his work because as he sees it, “it not only shows clients that you have the ability to acquire other knowledge but that you have an interest in the outside world.
“It creates an international profile and clients want players who understand the global world,” he says. “Having been in Australia has given me an international network. I often refer clients on to contacts in other countries, or they do it for me.”
Australia, as far as Lundström’s concerned, has it right when it comes to the study-life balance, calling it a “perfect combination of academia and adventure”. He admits that he’s not the kind of person to just "sit in a corner and study". It was the idea of travelling on the other side of the world that first drew him to studying in Australia, along it being an English-speaking country and having a good academic reputation.
While there, he also came to appreciate Australian mateship and the hospitality, especially that of his professors. "They seem to be very down to earth, they communicate and develop a more personal relationship,” he explains.
UNSW professor Graham Greenleaf, a specialist in IT law, was, he says, “an extraordinary person, not just his legal side. He was very friendly, very curious.”
When Lundström first returned to Denmark, he put the lessons he’d learned from Greenleaf into immediate practice, setting up a law firm with a friend and building it up into the leading Scandinavian IT law boutique, employing some 30 people.
Australia left a lasting impression. “I proposed to my wife in Australia during our stay there. She was enrolled at COFA (UNSW College of Fine Arts). We lived on the beach in Coogee – probably one of the cosiest spots in the world,” he says. “We often look back on our one-and-a-half years in Australia as a period with so so many fantastic experiences that it almost feels like recalling an unreal but beautiful dream.
"We spent all our spare time on travelling through the country. We bought an old 4WD, rebuilt it with a huge bed in the back and travelled up the coast to Cairns several times; inland; over to Adelaide; and up to Alice Springs. The bush experiences now form our approach to life."
One of his most vivid memories, he says, happened enroute to Coober Pedy in South Australia. Stopping to rest in the middle of the desert, they set their light tent up on the roof of their 4WD with 360˚ panorama of stars and blue sky hovering just above them. “It was out of this world”, says Lundström, “I haven’t seen anything like it and probably never will again.”