Australia: National Golden Gavel award for topic of working class lawyer
Last Updated: 26 September 2014

Norton Rose Fulbright Trainee Jamie Cooke has just won the 2014 National Golden Gavel for his witty insights into the topic "working class lawyer".

The National Golden Gavel, presented by the Australian Young Lawyers' Committee of the Law Council of Australia, is an annual public speaking competition in which young lawyers compete to represent their firms before a national audience of legal professionals.

The competition is an opportunity for young lawyers to show their advocacy and comedy skills, with each given five minutes to argue their case on a humorous legal topic.

The 2014 Golden Gavel Award was held at Parliament House in Canberra in association with the ACT Young Lawyers' Committee and supported by the Law Society of the ACT.

The competitors were judged by the secretary-general of the Law Council of Australia, Martyn Hagan; the food and lifestyle editor of The Canberra Times, Natasha Rudra; and ABC senior lawyer and former National Golden Gavel winner, Grant McAveney.

This year's winner Cooke, who is on a secondment from the UK, says considering he's only been in Australia for a few months and didn't know who some of the prominent Australians were that were featured in the topics; the Golden Gavel was a completely new experience.

"I am delighted to have won – it's such a great event, and there is no equivalent in the UK," he says.

The People's Choice Award was awarded to ACT Prosecutor Soraya Saikal who presented her speech on the topic "My milkshakes bring all the briefs to the yard – winning work at the bar".

One of the judges, Hagan, says this year's competitors were of an exceptionally high standard and very entertaining.

"It was great to see young lawyers have fun at this event and just be able to get away from the serious environment of being with clients or court for one night," he says. "Hailing from Glasgow, Mr Cooke was an impressive speaker - his performance was like that of a young Billy Connolly combined with the sharp mind of a lawyer going places."

"Lawyers are often typecast as serious or bookish types, but the National Golden Gavel provides young lawyers with an outlet to show their creativity."

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