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Law student makes leap of faith to represent Australia


Zuleika Henderson
8 May 2008
A glittering international competition in India with some of the world’s best budding lawyers, lost passports and taxi rides at breakneck speed.

These are just some of the highlights of the roller coaster ride of events that Benedict Coyne, a Southern Cross University graduate law student, experienced when he represented Australia at the prestigious Louis M Brown International Client Counselling Competition (ICCC) in Bangalore, India last month.

Professor Bee Chen Goh, head of SCU’s School of Law and Justice, said the respected competition was designed to teach budding lawyers ethics and the art of interviewing clients in a uniquely practical way.

“The format is a role play situation where teams of two students interview paid actors in various scenarios as they are judged by professionals in the law and counselling field,” she said.

“When we discovered that Benedict had been asked to represent the University and Australia at this prestigious event, we were thrilled,” she said.

But having been selected with just four weeks to go, the Lismore based student admits he felt some nerves at the prospect.

“We didn’t have much time to prepare, and things didn’t always go to plan,” said Benedict.

“My brother lost his passport on the way there and had to be left behind at Singapore airport, and then there was a misunderstanding with an Indian taxi driver which meant we arrived for out second round with just a few minutes to spare,” he said.

Even so, Benedict says that the experience was well worthwhile.

“More than 300 students and spectators attended from some of the best legal institutions in the world, so we had the chance to meet and learn a lot from the people we met and watched in action,” said Benedict.

“The theme was human rights, which is something I am passionate about, and it really allowed me to practice empathising with clients while providing sound legal advice,” he said.

The competition was won by Northern Ireland, with the Australian team coming in ninth place. But Professor Bee Chen Goh, says her students are undeterred.

Benedict intends to move to Brisbane in the coming months and has grand plans to build on the skills he has learned.

“Benedict and another Southern Cross University student intend to compete in the next ALSA competition in July,” said Professor Goh.

If they win, the next trip could be next year’s ICCC event, which is being held in Las Vegas.

“With the right preparation and more time, we could see some great results – we will all be watching with interest.”

Photo: Australian team Benedict Coyne and Adele Nardizzi (far left and far right) with one of the organisers of the ICCC.