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Lawyering to debating at Clayton Utz

Lawyering to debating at Clayton Utz

A CLAYTON UTZ lawyer has taken her expertise to a new market, using debating skills acquired working with the firm’s litigation and insolvency group to teach groups of students who are learning…

A CLAYTON UTZ lawyer has taken her expertise to a new market, using debating skills acquired working with the firm’s litigation and insolvency group to teach groups of students who are learning English as a second language.

A first year solicitor in the Melbourne office of Clayton Utz, Kim Little developed the idea through the firm’s Community Connect program, with classes to be run by Adult Multicultural Services (AMES), a Victorian Government organisation.

Little sees her involvement with AMES as an opportunity to use the skills that helped her become a lawyer, she said, using talents that are related to, but not exclusively contained in practising law.

With experience coaching students in universities across Asia, Little said she knows how challenging debating in a language other than one’s own can be. “It’s almost unimaginably difficult to come to another country and to not only pick up just every day words and what they mean but to really develop the ability to deeply engage with issues,” she said.

Students learning to speak English as a second language (ESL) are unlikely candidates for budding debaters, Little concedes, but said debating gives people access to ideas in a three dimensional way. Speaking in front of people also boosts confidence, she said.

“Obviously for ESL speakers there’s the additional challenge of, depending on the level that they are at, translating ideas from their own original language into English, in order to speak,” Little said. But the vast majority of the population never really comes to grips with what it is to be a confident interesting presenter. So the ability to take on public speaking tasks gives them an enormous advantage.”

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