Volume 1, Issue 12 (Originally Published 21 May 2016)
A big fan of De Minimis, Associate Professor Jeremy Gans, who teaches Criminal Law and Procedure, and Evidence and Proof in the Melbourne JD, readily agreed to an interview in his light-filled office.
Jeremy was first drawn to the law by television. “As a kid, I loved Rumpole of the Bailey. In high school, I was keen on debating and that seemed to have a natural connection to the law,” explains Jeremy. “When I did my LLB, which I combined with a BSc in theoretical physics at the ANU, my favourite subject was Constitutional Law. The lecturer, Gary Rumble, really inspired me.
He set high standards and was suitably cynical about judges’ motivations. Ultimately though, criminal law seemed more relevant to real life.” His least favourite subject was defamation, which in those days was “boring, old-fashioned and immune to policy issues.”
Jeremy went on to do a Master’s degree in Criminology at the University of Toronto, and a PhD at UNSW, where his thesis concerned child sexual abuse. With this abundance of qualifications, it would not seem surprising that Jeremy now teaches law, but “I got into academia by a process of elimination,” he claims.
“The clerkships I undertook did not dispose me in favour of corporate life, and working in government I encountered a lot of red tape and inertia. Consulting for the government is fun, though”. He currently is a Human Rights Adviser for the Victorian Parliament.
“I love my job and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The only downside is that people are too reverential towards lawyers. I have never encountered the dim view that people are alleged to take of us. If anything, they should be more cynical than they are!”
‘The challenge with teaching is to keep it fresh. Using new cases helps with this.” Jeremy receives a number of phone calls every week from journalists who want to understand criminal law for cases they’re reporting on. “Sometimes I can’t comment, but more often, I advise them off the record.”
Though his work is also his hobby, Jeremy also enjoys cooking and eating. “I used to whip up some pretty good curries and risottos, but having little kids has lessened my creativity a bit. They like simple food but we enjoy watching Master Chef together.”
His other favourite TV shows include Survivor and The Apprentice. “I love reality TV! I think it’s the human element. I would love to work on the contracts the participants have to sign.”
Jeremy also enjoys reading sci-fi, playing computer games and having fun with Angry Birds on his phone. His favourite film is Being John Malkovich, in which an unemployed puppeteer finds a portal behind a filing cabinet which allows him to enter and control the actor’s mind.
Jeremy’s advice for JDs: “If you’re not enjoying it, quit now, while you’re ahead. Don’t wait 10 years, during which the law is unlikely to grow on you, and then make a wrenching career change. I am lucky in that I love my job. For other lawyers, the problem is a being in a job they don’t love and that takes up all their time so that there’s no room for anything else.”