What do client agreements and Bangkok lady boys have in common?
According to Steven Hogg, this year's national Golden Gavel winner, they can work both ways.
Hogg, a lawyer with Tucker & Cowen in Brisbane, took out this year's Golden Gavel at the National Press Club in Canberra on Friday 29 October by addressing the topic of, "Things I wish I could put into a client agreement".
Hogg emerged victorious from a field of eight contestants, with the winners of each state and territory competition qualifying for the final.
Despite only getting the topic the day before, Hogg was able to impress the judging panel of Justices Hilary Penfold and Richard Refshauge of the ACT Supreme Court, and ACT Law Society president Athol Opas, with references to hot pants, former Prime Ministers, contraception and national law firms.
To whet the appetite for the puns that followed, Hogg said that if you order a client agreement from any firm's menu, you will be "served a half-baked slice of reluctant disclosure, served with mashed disclaimers on a bed of self-preservation and drizzled with a confusion coulis".
Just warming up, Hogg then likened having a new client to the "excitement and passion of a new relationship", stressing the importance of pausing to use a client agreement.
"But you've got to remember, you've never met this client before, you don't know where they've been or how many equity partners they may have had before you," Hogg said by way of an introduction. "And I know clients tell you that you're their first, but that's usually the biggest furphy since Freehills advertised on their website that 'as a graduate with our firm you will be given responsibility and a variety of interesting work'."
Hogg finished by praising a well-drafted client agreement as "done right, they can lead to a long lasting relationship where both parties end the night panting and sated on satin sheets.
"Now that's what I call client relationship management."
Hogg told Lawyers Weekly he worked in Brisbane on the Thursday before the event, flew to Canberra on the Friday morning, and finished preparing his speech by 4.30pm, just ahead of the scheduled 6pm kick-off.
"I was quite chuffed to be able to speak at the National Press Club," said Hogg. "You see photos on the wall of past speakers, like John Howard and the Dalai Lama, and you feel like a bit of an imposter."
Hogg finished in front of Gavin Hollamby, a senior associate with Lander & Rogers, and Elizabeth Shaw from Western Australia, who was admitted to the WA Supreme Court and High Court in March this year.
The judges couldn't split Hollamby and Shaw and awarded them equal second place.
Hollamby addressed the topic of, "The man on the Clapham Omnibus: just where was he going?", while Shaw presented a speech on why "99 per cent of lawyers make the rest look bad".
The people's choice award went to the Victorian entrant Athol Birtley, who spoke on the topic, "To an optimist the glass is half full, to a pessimist the glass is half empty, to a lawyer the glass is..."
Hogg was presented with $250 and a Golden Gavel trophy for winning the competition.
The victory presentation was followed by a rush of young lawyers, and even a judge or two, stampeding to the stage to be photographed behind the National Press Club lectern.
To read Hogg's winning speech, click here.
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