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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander moot promotes student learning
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander moot promotes student learning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, student learning, Queensland's top lawyer

Law students have recently had the opportunity to work with Queensland’s top lawyers, barristers and judges, taking to the courtroom to contest the fourth annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students’ Moot.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students representing the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University and Bond University explored legal issues arising from a fictional dispute involving a farming and tourism business founded by Indigenous landowners and entrepreneurs.

A culmination of several months of work, the moot is designed to boost students’ understanding of commercial law and advocacy.

In the lead up to the event, students received hands-on mentoring from lawyers and barristers, networking opportunities and workshops at both Allens and Ashurst offices.

The University of Queensland’s team of Martin Doyle, Naomi McCarthy and Cassia Bray came out on top in the final, up against Bond University’s Giselle Kilner-Parmenter, Talhia Cohen-Duke and Jordan Kilcoyne.

The final was adjudicated by several of the state’s most respected judges, Chief Justice James Allsop (Federal Court), Justice Walter Sofronoff (Court of Appeal), and Justice James Edelman (High Court).

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Mr Doyle, who took out the best overall advocate award, said he decided to participate in the moot to challenge himself, as “oral advocacy was (and still is) an area I find challenging.”

“I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and get some valuable experience along the way,” he said.

For him, “the moot is a direct challenge to a prevailing narrative about Indigenous people in Australia. We are a proud people, with a history that cannot and will not be forgotten, or silenced, or defined by the issues and conflicts impacting our community.

“We can and will survive, adapt and thrive as we have done for millennia.

“This moot represents a shared past and a hopeful future, an ancient culture dominating in the modern world, and a hope that we can bear the legacy of our ancestors and make them proud.”

Ashurst partner and moot coordinator Tony Denholder said he was very proud of the efforts of all mooters, “who each showed exceptional talent and skills on the day.”

He continued “the audience of seasoned barristers and solicitors were in awe of the performance of the mooters. When subject to intense questioning from the judges, it was easy to forget these were moots rather than the real thing.”

Allens partner and moot coordinator John Hedge said the moot provides a practical way for the legal profession to ensure Indigenous students have access to the same opportunities as their non-indigenous peers.

He said “hands-on experience provides a critical foundation for a career in law, but that advantage is not always readily accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, who may lack the connections and opportunities of their fellow students.”

Echoing Mr Hedge’s sentiments, Mr Denholder said the moot “provides an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to gain high-quality, practical legal experience and form professional connections that will serve them throughout their careers.”

He said Ashurst has been involved since the inaugural moot in 2015, and the team has “thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the students each year.”

“We are keen to see the competition expand beyond Queensland based universities in 2019,” he said.

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