Become trusted lawyers: Gates
The University of the South Pacific’s ( USP) School of Law (SOL) held the grand fi nale of its Mooting Competition at the High Court in Suva, Fiji on last Tuesday.
Judges that presided over the final were Justice William Calanchini, President of the Court of Appeal, Justice David Alfred and Justice Riyaz Hamza. During the prize-giving ceremony at Café 30 in Suva, SOL’s senior lecturer Wilfred Golman acknowledged the presence of Chief Justice Anthony Gates, judges and senior law practitioners. He thanked the Fijian Judiciary for their support in lending the premises (High Court no.1) for the final to be conducted successfully. Justice Calanchini said the law students did a very good job considering it was their first time in a formal court room. “I understand how nervous you might have been and how appearing before three High Court judges can be difficult but you handled the questions very well. You each demonstrated a certain amount of nerve when you first started but as your argument proceeded you became more firm,” Justice Calanchini told the students. Chief Justice Anthony Gates advised the students to become lawyers who can be trusted. “When doing private practice you will need to master advocacy, writing, drafting and of course, your advice to clients. You will also have to do a lot of reading,” he encouraged.
These, he said, are difficult things to master. “All those things you learned from university are not going to help you in private practice unless you have the diligence and humility to master the nuts and bolts of the legal profession – litigation, and even simple things like debt collection as many of the claims in court are essentially about people chasing money,” Justice Gates said.
Justice Gates said it was important to note that when in court, lawyers had to know what they were talking about.
“It is not easy, you have to prepare yourself well. You will need to persuade the court and you must have facts at your fingertips,” he said.
Justice Gates told students that if they were serious about becoming lawyers, they should be ready to commit themselves to a lot of hard work and preparation.
Chief Justice Anthony Gates (left), presents the prize to the finalists of the University of the South Pacific School of Law Mooting Competition.