Law and Business

Claire Churchward, Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Global Studies

Claire Churchward

Claire Churchward
Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Global Studies

2015 Shine Lawyers Torts Moot Competition

The competition, held by the QUT School of Law in conjunction with leading law firm Shine Lawyers, took place from 3-7 August 2015 at the Queensland University of Technology, Garden Point campus in Brisbane.

Even though the team didn't win the competition, ‘Our students were third year law students competing against fourth and fifth year students from other universities. Our students are to be congratulated, and I have no doubt that they will be more seasoned mooters in the future. They should from a good base of experience and knowledge for future mooting both within the university and for inter-university mooting,' said Graham Thomas QC, the Legal Profession Mentor and the moot coach of the team.

We spoke to Claire about the competition.

Why did you choose to participate in the QUT Moot Competition? "I chose to participate in the competition because I love mooting both in the exercise of creating a case and orally presenting it. I have participated in the internal criminal law mooting competitions for the past two years, but I wanted the opportunity to refine my skills and apply them in different areas of law. The QUT moot was an excellent place to do this, as we would be able to see how external students approach mooting in the area of tort law."

What was your expectation and if the reality matched what you expected? "Yes, in the sense that I expected to be challenged by the law, other competitors and the judges. However, outside of this, I had no idea what to expect. No students from ACU had had the opportunity to represent the university at this level so in this sense we were walking in blind."

How did the experience relate to your study at ACU Law? "For any law student, knowing the law is only a small part of the skill set required to succeed. To get the most out of this information, you need to know how to apply it to a unique set of facts and be able to argue for a particular application of the law to support the outcome you want. Mooting tests all three of these skills in a practical environment. Being able to see the law applied in ‘reality' in turn cements an understanding of legal principles learned in the traditional classroom environment."

What made this trip special? What are the highlights? "The four of us, and Graham Thomas as our coach, worked together well. The week was constantly demanding. When we weren't competing or sleeping, we were working to prepare for our next round. While only two of us presented in any given match, there was far more work to do than the two speakers could manage. We created a system where the two team members who weren't competing would do the prep work so that the mooting pair could work on their arguments. Despite how much work and stress was required, we had a lot of fun working through it together. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to have worked with such an intelligent and dedicated team who made the experience a memorable one."

What did you learn? Does the experience have any impact on your study/personal life? If so, how? "From the other competitors, I have gained an insight into the standard required to excel, and I will take these lessons and apply them in future moots. The week has confirmed for me that mooting is something I want to continue pursuing heading into the rest of my degree, and I'm looking forward to the next competition."

How do you sum up the whole experience? "Both challenging and rewarding. A lot of work went into the competition and a lot of sleep was loss during the week and those in the lead up to it but the experience was worth it. All of us are stronger mooters and have deeper understandings of the relevant areas of law as a result."

Would you recommend other Law students to do the same? "Absolutely. Mooting is not just for students looking to become barristers in the future, it's an invaluable experience for everyone studying law. Whether you like it or not, public speaking is inevitable in life. Outside of your university experience, you are not likely to have such an environment where you can develop presentation skills in such a controlled or supportive environment before you're expected to utilise them in practice."

With this article, what is the message you want to get across to the readers? "Don't let fear deprive you of such an incredible experience. When I talk to first years and prospective students, many of them see mooting as an intimidating exercise and want to know how to avoid it. As somebody who is extremely introverted, I had the same attitude at the start of my degree. Now, having seen how much I've grown personally and academically since my first mooting competition, I can't emphasise what an important experience it is to any law student. Accept the challenge and you might surprise yourself."

Anything else you would like to share with us? Thank you to ACU, The Thomas More Academy of Law, Melissa Passarelli at the St Patrick's Law Students' Society for making the trip possible.

From left to right: Team Member Connor Beattie, Simon Hubel, Legal Profession Mentor Graham Thomas QC, Alexandra Roso and Claire ChurchwardFrom left to right: Team Member Connor Beattie, Simon Hubel, Legal Profession Mentor Graham Thomas QC, Alexandra Roso and Claire Churchward