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To the more 400 attendees, the comedy acts paired with a hearty breakfast and bottomless coffee made the 2022 Golden Gavel well worth the early rise. Straight from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, solicitor Emma Wei took home the coveted trophy with her hilarious speech titled ‘Secondments – the old person’s home for 4-year-old lawyers’. Witty but succinct, Wei’s performance was confident for a government lawyer in front of a room packed with private firm lawyers before 9am.

Hosted at the Fullerton Hotel in Sydney’s CBD, this year had the participation of six young lawyers, judged by NSW Young Lawyers Vice President (and winner of the 2021 Golden Gavel) Olivia Irvine, Sparke Helmore Partner Mia Donald, and FCFA Junior registrar Brett McGrath.

As the audience settled in their seat, LSJ’s own Floyd Alexander-Hunt – also a previous Golden Gavel winner currently touring the country with her celebrated show Highly Strung – warmed up the room with a series of perfectly-delivered one-liners to help us forget about the pandemic. “We’re all sick of it”, she decidedly says.

Caffeinated and fully fed, the audience was keen and ready to be left in stitches when the first finalist took the stage.

Anjali Nadaradjane (MinterEllison) raised the bar with her humorous and well-rehearsed presentation that “Crime doesn’t pay… as well as it used to”.

Bailey Neate (Wotton + Kearney) deservedly scored both the Sparke Helmore People’s Choice Award and Runner-up prize for his routine titled “The eagle has landed … how you know the partner is in the office.”

Jessica Turner (Turks Legal) risked more than most with her personal account of why she isn’t adding her bosses on social media, given they were both in the audience. Sophia Urlich (BlueScope Steel Limited) said what we were all thinking with “Working from home (and other lies)”.

And after Wei’s winning act, Rachel Zeng (Johnson Winter & Slattery) finished the set with an amusing analysis titled “Billable hours and other law firms’ culture vultures.”

While the judges and the audience cast their votes, the winner of the Student Golden Gavel, Riley Fotopoulos from the University of Notre Dame Australia, entertained us with his role advice on how to win an award.

Wei will now represent New South Wales in the national Golden Gavel competition. Time and venue to be announced soon.

Golden Gavel 2022 was supported by Sparke Helmore.