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International advocate inspires UC law students

Kim Pham

31 August 2017: University of Canberra law students have gained practical court room advocacy skills thanks to a week-long visit from an international legal adviser.

Gina Nott is currently based in Jakarta working in the Australia-Asia Program to combat people trafficking. Earlier this year, she taught University of Canberra students in the elective unit, Client Advocacy and Communication Skills. The unit included a week-long series of face-to-face practical assessments at the University’s Moot Court.  

Students had to demonstrate their ability to advocate in court including doing cross examinations, examinations-in-chiefs, opening and closing addresses.

“I hope the unit really demystified the court room experience. It is vitally important for students to have the opportunity to experience court room advocacy and practical units like this, so that when they graduate they have a full suite of skills,” she said.

“I hope the students finished the unit with a greater understanding of aspects of the advocacy process, but more importantly, the confidence that they have the ability to become excellent advocates, if that is what they ultimately wanted to do with their law degree.”

Bachelor of Law and Arts student Francisca Wong said she has a better understanding of advocacy and she feels more comfortable presenting in court after having regular practice in the Moot Court.

“More than anything, this unit has taught me the value of properly engaging with one's audience when advocating,” she said.

“Often at times the legal jargon presented at court confuses the person listening to it, legal practitioners included. So I learnt the importance of being able to present all the required information to the audience simply and with clarity.”

Ms Wong said it was an honour to learn from Ms Nott who has extensive experience as a criminal prosecutor in state and federal jurisdictions in Australia. Ms Nott has also previously spent two years working in the public solicitor’s office and prosecutor’s office conducting back to back murder trials in the Solomon Islands High Court.

“Gina’s wealth of knowledge and experience was extremely impressive and put the unit content into a realistic context. Her constant engagement gave us the opportunity to clarify, explore and solidify the unit content through any enquiries or ideas we may have had,” Ms Wong said.

Ms Nott recently returned to Canberra to start her new role as Assistant Director of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and hopes to return to the University to continue teaching.

“The University of Canberra has such a wonderful reputation so I was very keen to take the opportunity to teach law students advocacy,” she said.

“It was a privilege to have a class full of such enthusiastic, motivated and clever students. They were so engaging and I really enjoyed spending the week with them.”