Each year, young lawyers test their public speaking skills and comedic genius at Golden Gavel competitions across the country. The winners of each State and Territory competition face off at the National Golden Gavel, to prove that an ounce of wit is worth a pound of argument.
The prestigious 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 from each State and Territory of Australia compete to represent their firms before an audience of legal professionals at a state level. The winners of each State and Territory competition subsequently compete to determine the winner of the National Golden Gavel Award.
The competition is an opportunity for young lawyers to showcase their advocacy and comedy skills, with each given five minutes to argue their case on a usually far-fetched topic - revealed only 24 hours beforehand.
This year's National Golden Gavel Competition was held at The Hilton, Adelaide on Friday, 21 September 2012.
Competitors were judged by :
Ashurst young lawyer Marc McKechnie has won the 2012 National Golden Gavel award for his witty and comically insightful take on the topic "I withdraw that your Honour"; 5 words every lawyer should know – and why.
Mr McKechnie said his speech started with a basic concept which expanded into other areas of legal life, getting progressively—and appropriately—sillier as it went.
“The first thing that I thought of was that it is a unique option for advocates to be able to withdraw a mistaken statement or losing submissions and then the Court forgets it ever happened—it's like a Jedi mind trick,” Mr McKechnie said.
“It feels great to win and the whole evening was extremely entertaining, the other speakers were all very talented and very funny.
“I think that finding humour in the law is very important for your sanity, and it is a rich source if you know where to look.
“With the amount of litigation that goes on there will always be a funny facts situation hiding somewhere.
“Further, any profession that takes itself too seriously and is grounded in many old traditions and conventions is ripe for parody!”
Second place was taken out by Joel Cook from New South Wales for his speech Why women lawyers do it better, and third place went to Heloise Woodside from the Northern Territory for her speech on How to lose an employer in 10 days.