Tips for success from the ANU Law Students’ Society: careers and competitions

Andrew Ray mooting
Final-year Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Science student Andrew Ray mooting at the 2019 ANU Open day.

You can’t do everything! Focus on the activities that you are good at and that align with your goals.

The Australian National University (ANU) has many opportunities for law students to consolidate their legal skills and kick-start their careers. Student competitions organised by the ANU Law Students’ Society (LSS) offer a dynamic way to put theory into practice and broaden your personal and professional networks.

During ANU Virtual Open Week 2020, ANU LSS representatives explained the four major competitions on offer and shared their tips on pursuing your dream job in the legal profession.

Our panel: Tiger Lin, Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics/Laws (Hons); Aislinn Grimley, Bachelor of Arts/Laws (Hons); Jye Beardown, Bachelor of Commerce/Laws (Hons); Prisca Ochan, Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Political Science; and Laksshini Sundaramoorthy, Bachelor of Arts/Laws (Hons).

The ‘big four’ competitions:

  • Mooting: Replicates a mock trial and offers an incourt experience where plaintiffs and defendants battle it out in an adversarial manner.
  • Negotiations: It’s your team against another as you both strive to diffuse a situation and reach a compromise.
  • Client interviews: Working in pairs, you’ll interview a partner in an unprepared scenario. Your aim? To get as much information out of them as possible.
  • Witness examination: This is a small part of the trial where you are the prosecution or the defence. You’ll examine a witness and try to get them to confirm a story that supports your case or point out inconsistencies in their story to support your case.

Benefits for students

Competitions are a great way to experience practical application of your legal studies. It has been said that you don’t understand the law until you put it into practice, and these competitions offer that opportunity.

It’s also a great way to build your resume! It gets you on your feet and improves your oral and improvisation skills.

Build your skill-set

Apart from enthusiasm and a desire to learn, there aren’t any pre-requisites for entering student competitions. You don’t need to have prior experience or public speaking skills. You’ll get out what you put in, so don’t be shy and embrace the go-getter spirit! Even first-year students can get involved with a wide variety of junior competitions to help build your skills early in your degree.

Be job-ready

In case the thrill of competition isn’t enough of an incentive, there are many practical reasons for immersing yourself in these opportunities – especially for your career. Here are some of the advantages:

1) Gain legal work experience: Opportunities abound for those who can point to skills and experiences cultivated through competitions.

2) Advance advocacy and public speaking skills: No matter what level you’re starting from, you’ll find yourself sounding more professional with every competition you participate in.

3) Showcase your passion for the law: Competitions are a great way to demonstrate your commitment to issues that matter to you including environmental protections, community law, human rights and more.

4) Be a stand-out applicant: There is no denying that the legal profession is highly competitive when it comes to clerkships and graduate jobs. Competitions and other extra-curricular activities can help stamp your ‘X’ factor to employers.

5) Be a better communicator: Demonstrating that you’re an effective communicator who can rise up above ‘legalese’ is an all-star quality.

6) Gain inside knowledge: Your experience in competitions will equip you with a deeper understanding about the structure and function of our courts and its proceedings.

7) Network with legal professionals: Be prepared to meet everyone from other ANU Law students and alumni in the early stages of their careers, to senior associates and High Court judges.  

8) Expand your horizons: In a post-pandemic world, you’ll get the chance to travel for competitions interstate or internationally. Financial support is also available for some students (see here for more information).  

ANU LSS words of wisdom:

  • “Always think outside the box when applying for jobs and scholarships.”
  • “You can’t do everything! Focus on the activities that you are good at and that align with your goals.”
  • “Utilise your teachers, lecturers and your professors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
  • “Dive into competitions as early as you can. Remember who was involved and the advice you have gained.”
  • “Always be open to new opportunities!”

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team