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Henrik Norsk Hoffmann - Denmark

Course: Master of Laws (LLM)
The University of Queensland (QUT)
Brisbane, Queensland

Henrik Norsk Hoffmann is Denmark’s leading specialist in gambling law, an achievement he puts down to having an Australian Master of Laws degree.

“I was introduced to my current legal area of expertise, gambling law, due to the fact that I had an LLM from a university in an English-speaking country,” he explains.

Henrik enrolled at the University of Queensland (UQ) in 2001 following an out-of-the-blue invitation from the dean of the law faculty. He and his Danish team mates had been practicing for an International Moot Court Competition in Copenhagen with the team from UQ, and the Danes performance in the lead-up to the simulated court proceedings obviously impressed the Australian academic.

“The tuition fees, the happy and easy-going attitude of Australians in general made it a very attractive alternative to the US for a European searching for an English-speaking, non-European angle on law and international business,” he says.

Plus, the LLM at UQ covered aspects of Asian law, which he saw as a great advantage.

Following the year-long course, Hoffman returned to Europe and found work with a small German law firm.

“The foreign entities I was dealing with then weren't so comfortable doing business in German, they preferred English,” he explains. His command of English combined with his knowledge of both common law and civil law ensured him a growing client base within the firm.

“As civil lawyer, an understanding of how law works in a common law system such as Australia is required to achieve a position as a recognised legal adviser in a globalised world,” he says.

“The network I developed in Australia has now grown into a large network of contacts around the world.

“It enables me to help customers and colleagues find competent legal advisers and business partners in more than 50 countries, which working in an international law firm is a great commercial asset and personally very satisfying.”

Henrik says the nature of the UQ campus along with the events targeted at international students played a significant role in helping build networks by promoting constant, casual interaction.

“There was a forum to get together everyday, to meet new people from very different backgrounds and get to know them better,” he explains. “It wasn't a matter of just seeing people in class.”

He also liked the relaxed interaction between students and their professors.

“In Denmark, you would be lucky if you saw your professor for more than a presentation,” he says, whereas the UQ academics were “approachable”, ever ready to have a coffee or a chat in a hallway outside of class.

And they valued the opinion of their students. “There was a willingness to focus on what students suggested for discussion in class, to listen to their ideas,” he insists.

The premise of self study also suited him: “Going for a Master's is more or less a grown-up experience. You have to take responsibility for yourself and I was pleased to do that.”

Henrik admits that one of his main goals in going to Australia was to experience a different approach to life.

Northern Europeans he says are guilty of focusing too much on work. “They discover too late that they should have gone home earlier more often.”

By contrast, he describes Australians as having a “glass half-full” mentality. “There is so much positive energy in Australia,” he maintains.

“Living with people who are generally happy and cheerful and put great emphasis on enjoying and living life while you are fit to do so is an attitude that northern Europeans could definitely learn from.”

Hoffmann describes studying and living in Australia as “a fantastic experience” which has given him a cache of memories, from getting a feel for the vast emptiness of Australia while being stranded by a car that’s broken down almost 100km away from the nearest house to swimming with sea turtles at the Whitsunday Islands and watching whales, from waiting for a python to cross the fairways before teeing up on a golf course to just having a barbecue and a beer on a beautiful empty beach with friends.

“Of course, doing well at your studies is important,” he says, “but just as important in the long run is building an international network and experiencing the Australian way of life.”

Last updated: Friday, 29 May 2015 10:52:11 AM

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