It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
There is nothing so delightfully raw and primal as watching a group of Australia’s best young lawyers tongue-lash each other at the National Golden Gavel competition.
Hosted by comedian James Smith, the National Gavels, which took place on Friday 20 October 2017, is more than just a hardcore legal industry public speaking event. It’s a battle of wits and a rare opportunity for the industry to let its hair down, to exchange friendly fire (sometimes pointed mud-slinging other times fully fledged, no holds barred attacks), and to see who spars supreme and who cracks in the extreme.
As if the stakes weren’t already high enough for this year’s silver-tongued Golden Gavel State champions, NSW Young Lawyers, who hosted an absolutely flawless evening, decided to up the ante for competitors by sticking everyone on a glass-walled boat cruising Sydney Harbour.
The competition rules are simple:
- Step 1: Receive your topic 24-hours before the National Gavels competition
- Step 2: Try not to have a coronary
- Step 3: Pull together a pithy, witty and ironic speech that stretches the limits of political correctness without compromising a long and prosperous career in the law (40% for humour; 30% for cleverness and originality; 30% for performance)
- Step 4: Comply with a 5-minute time limit
- Step 5: Enter the arena, show no weakness, and as NSW finalist, Floyd Alexander-Hunt’s, mum advised her:
Take down the competition!”
We’ve mentioned previously that the Golden Gavels is a spectator sport held in front of peers, colleagues and industry big wigs (puns are fun).
Poking fun and creating a dialogue around entrenched lawyer stereotypes and legal protocols are welcomed. But contestants must be careful to toe the line without crossing it as Barnaby Grant soon discovered when his light-hearted comment asking “are women people?” resulted in him being gently reminded by The Honourable Justice Lucy McCallum that three out of four competition judges were, in fact, female.
Needless to say, Barnaby didn’t win.
So without further ado, here are just a few of our favourite contestants:
Elly Phelan – Queensland
Topic: Lawyers in a post-apocalyptic world, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the law.
Barnaby Grant – South Australia
Topic: Trial by combat and other good alternatives to modern litigation.
Floyd Alexander-Hunt – New South Wales (represent!)
Topic: Can you imagine a world without lawyers?
Congratulations to Floyd for taking out the Patron’s Choice Award!
Conor O’Bryan – Victoria
Topic: CVs, tender pitches, and other works of offiction.
Congratulations to Conor for taking our the runner-up prize!
Micah Kickett – Northern Territory
Topic: How to speak conversational legalese in one easy lesson.
Huge congratulations to Micah for winning this year’s National Gavels with an epic performance (including rap battle sequence).
In her welcome speech, Renee Bianchi, Law Council of Australia’s Young Lawyers Committee said:
The event is part of the calendar of events of the Law Council of Australia’s Young Lawyers Committee (LCA YLC). The LCA YLC is an advisory committee of the Law Council. It represents young lawyers at a national level and advises the Law Council on issues affecting, and matters of concern to, Australian young lawyers. The LCA YLC is responsible for the coordination of the National Golden Gavel and the Australian Young Lawyer Awards, however, each year they are hosted by a different State.”
This year’s event is hosted by NSW Young Lawyers, a division of the Law Society of NSW. It is wonderful to have this event back in NSW after some time.”
Australian Young Lawyer Awards 2017
The National Gavels also includes the presentation of the Individual and Organisation categories of the Australian Young Lawyer Awards.
Congratulations to this year’s winner, 29-year-old commercial lawyer, James Skelton, who took out the 2017 Australian Young Lawyer Award.
Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, praised Mr Skelton’s contribution:
James is an incredibly dynamic and accomplished young lawyer well deserving of this honour.”
Congratulations to the 2017 Australian Young Lawyer Award (Organisation) winners, the NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee, for its Refugee Assistance Project (RAP).
The RAP provides form-filling assistance to asylum seekers and refugees who are subject to the Fast Track Assessment process and might otherwise find the entire process impossible,” Ms McLeod said.
The RAP has done tremendous work in assisting asylum seekers and refugees to exercise their right to seek asylum.
Bring on next year!