National law competition sets stage for future legal stars

by Miklos Bolza09 Sep 2015
Held in Dunedin from 25–30 August, the New Zealand Law Students Association (NZLSA) conference gave some of the country’s brightest the chance to show their skills in a real world legal environment. 

The conference consisted of five competitions, each based on a specific skill or setting: University of Auckland, led by the president of the Auckland University Law Students Society (AULSS), Benjamin Kirkpatrick, produced the highest number of champions out of all participating universities. Sam Jeffs and Carter Pearce won the Open Mooting Competition and Caitlin Anyon-Peters and Katie Eichelbaum (both pictured) won the Junior Mooting Competition. Additionally, Roshana Ching came runner-up in the Witness Examination Final.

Noting that this was the third consecutive time the University of Auckland had won both NZSLA mooting competitions, Kirkpatrick said that several factors were responsible:
  • A strong integration of advocacy skills within core papers with criminal oral submissions, torts moot and general moot compulsory for those studying an LLB
  • A growing interest in student mooting competitions with AULSS recently expanding a number of regional competitions
  • The recent creation of a Mooting Society which offers further practical workshops and two additional moots
  • The competitive entry requirements of the University of Auckland law school which attracts top students from around the country 
  • The availability of further mooting competitions including the Maori Moot, Pacifica Moot and the Meredith Connell Greg Everard Memorial Moot

Kirkpatrick praised the NZSLA conference saying that it presented a number of benefits to students.

“In addition to developing their skills and representing their University on a national level, they get to meet other law students alongside members of the legal sector and the judiciary from all around the country,” he said.

Professional lawyers could also gain from watching these types of competitions, Kirkpatrick noted.

“Firstly, it’s an opportunity to see a high level of advocacy which judges say is on par with or above some of the general practitioners within the legal sector. Secondly, it’s a chance to connect with some of New Zealand's top law students. Someone could potentially scout students for their firm or chambers. Thirdly, it provides insights about what members of judiciary want within courtroom advocacy.”

As for Auckland’s senior champions, both Jeffs and Pearce will get the chance to represent New Zealand at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington D.C. next year. This is the largest moot competition in the world with almost 700 law schools from over 90 countries participating. 

The junior prize winners, Anyon-Peters and Eichelbaum, will have to wait to compete in the senior competition for this honour. 

Looking back, Kirkpatrick says all four students gave their all and certainly lived up to their potential.

“Sam Jeffs, Carter Pearce, Caitlin Anyon-Peters and Katie Eichelbaum all performed to an exceptional standard and demonstrated their high calibre of advocacy. In any future competitions and in any court room, they will definitely hold their own and advocate in their case at a level recognised as ‘high calibre’ by top members of the New Zealand judiciary.”

The University of Auckland team is pictured below.