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Law graduate Olivia Irvine has taken out this year’s virtual NSW Young Lawyers Golden Gavel competition with a hilarious take on how to adequately measure 1.5 metres and adhere to COVID-19 public health orders.

The Golden Gavel competition looked a bit different this year due to the pandemic restrictions. In the absence of a crowded early morning breakfast the competition went ahead online, with seven brave competitors bringing the laughs and drawing in hundreds of viewers and votes.

Irvine’s winning speech tackled the topic, “COVID health order – the best ways to measure up 1.5 metres are these”. Her speech featured a lot of wit and the occasional reference to her “beautiful hair”. The crux of her comedic routine was that 1.5 metres is in fact a complex legal term determined by your member of parliament.

“To meet the 1.5 metres, measure with your member,” Irvine, a volunteer at the Redfern Legal Centre, said.

Irvine was surprised by her win and grateful to everyone who watched her video; particularly given her mum didn’t even vote for her.

“I sent it to my mum, and she felt it would be nepotism if she voted, so she didn’t. But she told me she liked it,” Irvine told LSJ.

The winning speech was shot as one long take and Irvine admits she had to redo it 30 or 40 times due to her cat Sheba walking into the background.

In this year’s pandemic edition of Golden Gavel, each competitor was given a different topic and had just 24 hours to write and film their five-minute speech. The videos were then made available online for viewers to vote for across the week.

Sophia Urlich, a lawyer at Lindsay Taylor Lawyers, won the People’s Choice Award for her theatrical performance of “M-m-m-m-my corona – tips to going back to the office and living to tell the tale”. She staged her video at the beach using a pink esky as her desk where she provided amusing tips for returning to the office safely.

By far the best thing you can do is sing and dance, that’ll keep people away from you.

Sophia Urlich, Lawyer, Lindsay Taylor Lawyers

Urlich demonstrated the point by singing her own lyrics “Let’s go fight a case” to the tune of Mary Poppins’ “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”.

NSW Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum, who is the 2020 Patron of the NSW Young Lawyers and headed the judging panel, praised all the competitors for braving the online competition and creating laugh-out-loud moments.

She highlighted Irvine’s winning speech, calling it “stand-up comedy in its purest form”.
“It was a careful narrative with a slow build, a strong message conveyed through satire, punctuated with the odd irrelevant gag and glimpses of the vulnerability of the comedian,” McCallum said.

In a stirring judgment, McCallum gave Irvine a virtual judicial hug and flowers. She complimented all the competitors on their speeches and encouraged them to make her laugh in court one day. You can watch the full judgement here.

The 2020 Golden Gavel was sponsored by Unisearch Expert Opinion Services. If you missed out on the fun, visit the LSJ Website to watch the speeches in full.