find the latest legal job
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Outrageously funny lawyers sweep prizes at Golden Gavel

Outrageously funny lawyers sweep prizes at Golden Gavel

Andrew Marriott

Going on a blind date with a barrister and shirtfronting a difficult bench were two of the subjects dealt with by the speakers at this year’s Golden Gavel.

The annual NSW Golden Gavel Competition, which showcases the oratory and comedic talents of young lawyers, was held on 15 May in Sydney. 

Winner of the coveted speaking prize, Andrew Marriott from Legal Aid, spoke on the topic ‘Married at first sight: the honeymoon of briefing new counsel’.

Mr Marriott’s engaging portrayal of briefing counsel as a professional romance, further sensationalised by use of the theme music from Titanic, had the audience in hysterics.

When you first set eyes on your match through “barrister Tinder” (the internet), “your stomach tightens, your heart flutters, you can’t get them out of your head or your inbox”, Mr Marriott said.

“Counsel says, ‘Meet me out the back of Silks’. You tell your counsel, ‘I’ll be the one carrying the blue file’.

“As things draw to a close, you are packing up, you’re about to go back to the office and then the counsel says the magic words, ‘I want you to come back to my chambers and show me your briefs’.”

Email exchanges and coffee dates become increasingly “thrilling and sexy” as you draw closer to your public debut at trial.

“You learn to love his quirks,” Mr Marriott said. “The way his moustache catches his crumbs, the way his belly prevents him from leaning over and grabbing the notepad off the desk, the way he sometimes looks like he definitely slept in chambers overnight, but you are just too shy to ask.”

When the court date finally arrives, your barrister “whispers sweet nothings into your ear like, ‘What did the judge say? I wasn’t listening’.”

Mr Marriott’s witty and elaborate storytelling caught the attention of judge Michael Kirby, who said the speech was a “brilliant contribution and right up to the very best standards of Golden Gavel”.

Andrew Marriott - Legal Aid

Winner: Andrew Marriott, Legal Aid - ‘Married at first sight – the honeymoon of briefing new counsel'

Posted by NSW Golden Gavel Competition on Thursday, 14 May 2015

Another speaker, Gemma Lardner from Henry Davis York, deliberated on the difficult relationship solicitors have with the court and assessed whether shirt fronting judges, Tony Abbott-style, was an “appropriate way” to deal with a bench that won’t budge.    

“Every judge I’ve ever had the pleasure of appearing before has been easy to talk to, patient, understanding,” she reflected. 

“Superior court judges have only led me to weep in a foetal position under my desk, 10, 15 times tops.”

But for lawyers who find judges difficult to deal with, shirt fronting is probably a flawed strategy, she said. 

Lawyers obviously don’t have to address the “practical issues” that Mr Abbott would have needed to overcome to come good on his threat to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“How on earth do you shirtfront a man who is, as a general rule, disinclined to wear shirts and predominately travels by horse or bear?” Ms Lardner pointed out.

But there is another way: “The beautiful thing about the law firm structure is that partners delegate their work, personal insecurities and problems down to us young lawyers and we in turn can always hospital pass the matter to an unnervingly enthusiastic grad who hasn’t quite had their enthusiasm for the law completely stomped out of them,” she said, brightly.

“Send them up to take the hit from the judge while you are still bruised from the last one.”

Ms Lardner qualified this suggestion by saying that “there is a real likelihood that the grad you now need to manually paginate a ten volume brief to counsel will be too busy dealing with their PTSD flashbacks to be of any use to you.”

Gemma Lardner - Henry Davis York

Gemma Lardner, Henry Davis York - The ‘Shirtfront’ and other ways to deal with a difficult bench.

Posted by NSW Golden Gavel Competition on Thursday, 14 May 2015

Kristen Hammond from Holman Webb Lawyers, who was the runner-up in the competition, demonstrated unequivocally that there is no time too early in the morning to speak publicly on the subject of butt plugs, nipple clamps and whips.

Her topic ‘50 Shades of Grey: being dominant on the rough road to success’ led her to discuss subtle themes of the film, such as how “it’s ok to behave like an absolute stalker control freak nut bar when you are hot and rich”.

Kristen Hammond - Holman Webb Lawyers

Runner up: Kristen Hammond, Holman Webb Lawyers - 50 Shades of Grey - being dominant on the rough road to success.

Posted by NSW Golden Gavel Competition on Thursday, 14 May 2015

The people’s choice award, presented by partner at Sparke Helmore Mark Doepel, went to James Foley from Gadens, who spoke on the topic ‘Speaking in Emoji: surviving a performance review’.

Mr Foley was introduced as a speaker with “an innate gift for spilling coffee on original documents” and described by his colleagues as “presumably a lawyer” who can normally be found face down on his keyboard.

Hitting a chord, he said performance reviews are “are a little bit like going on a date with your boss except there’s no dinner, no drinks and only one of you is going to get screwed.”

James Foley - Gadens

People’s Choice Award: James Foley, Gadens - Speaking in Emoji: surviving a performance review.

Posted by NSW Golden Gavel Competition on Thursday, 14 May 2015

In his presentation speech, Mr Doepel said a key sign that a young lawyer is about to depart a firm is when they are honest in their performance review.

“I remember many years ago when I was a partner at a law firm that shall remain nameless – it was Minter Ellison – we had a lovely young girl in a performance review … and it started with her saying that she couldn’t work with this partner for a moment more and she blew us all away when she said, in the most eloquent of language, she would rather spend the rest of her life with a diseased penis in her mouth than spend any more time at this so-called law firm.”

Image: The winners and judges of the Golden Gavel Competition.


Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Outrageously funny lawyers sweep prizes at Golden Gavel
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Gavel, legal book, criminal lawyers
Jan 19 2018
Three criminal lawyers named NSW magistrates
The NSW Attorney-General has announced the appointment of three new local court magistrates. ...
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...