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Brisbane students top of the class in national mooting competition

Brisbane State High School students have put their legal nous on show, beating teams from 106 schools around Australia to come out on top of the prestigious Bond University High School Mooting Competition, the only one of its kind in Australia.

Year 12 students Eamon O'Shea, Isaac Douglas and Joanne Chen were named the winners after going head to head with students from fellow Brisbane school, St Margaret's Anglican Girls' School, at the recent grand final moot (Saturday, 2 August 2014).

Isaac Douglas also took out the accolade of 'overall outstanding advocate', while St Margaret's Anglican Girls' School student Josephine Booth received one of three 'outstanding advocacy' awards.

The remaining 'outstanding advocacy' award winners were Amy Hiscox, from John Paul College in Coffs Harbour, and Sam Gangeemi, from Kingaroy State High School.

The overall winners and advocacy award winners have each been offered a 40 per cent scholarship to study law at Bond University.

The competition was judged by some of Australia's most respected legal figures, including The Honourable Justice Robert Gotterson AO of the Supreme Court of Queensland, retired District Court of Queensland Judge John Newton and Bond University’s Assistant Professor Louise Parsons.

The mooting competition involved two opposing teams forming and presenting legal arguments by applying legal rules to a factual situation similar to those dealt with by the courts every day.

The competition was based on the fictitious case of a boy who swung from a frayed rope and fell into a river and was paralysed as a result.

Brisbane State High School legal studies teacher Kat Gallagher said Eamon, Isaac and Joanne had been working for months on their arguments - acting as both the respondent and the appellant at different stages in the competition.

"It has really helped to improve their communication skills and their confidence, and has given them real life experience in the area they are interested in, showing them how the legal system works in practice," she said.

"They have had to research and take responsibility for their own learning, doing a lot of independent work without much assistance and meeting up for hours each week, both with and without the input of a teacher.

"It has been really impressive to see their dedication."

Assistant Professor Louise Parsons said the team from Brisbane State High School had shown a real aptitude for a career in law.

"The preparation they put into their legal argument was obvious and the standard of their advocacy skills was second to none," she said.

"Across the board, the talent this year was exceptional and it is always exciting to witness the lawyers of tomorrow getting their first real taste of what it would be like to work in this environment."

Assistant Professor Parsons said the competition allowed students to apply the skills they had learnt in the classroom.

"It is all about introducing high school students to a real courtroom environment," she said.

"The facilities we use here at Bond University are replicas of what they would see in any courtroom around the country. The High School Mooting Competition gives them practical experience, and they also get further insight into the workings of the Australian legal system.”

"To receive feedback from judges of the calibre we had involved in the competition is also a major coup for any aspiring lawyer."

However, Assistant Professor Parsons said the competition wasn't just aimed at those wanting to pursue a career in law.

"No matter what field students ultimately see themselves in, the skills needed to be victorious in a moot really underpin those needed to achieve success in any field," she said.

"These include critical thinking, analysis, problem solving and communication."


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