Two University of Waikato students have won the New Zealand Law Students’ Association Client Interviewing Finals in Christchurch, and will head to Dublin to represent New Zealand at the world finals next year.
Third-year law students Sarah Ather and Jenn Tng entered the competition to gain experience, but their attention to detail, ability to read a situation and give sound legal advice set them apart from the top law students.
At the national competition, students were tasked with interviewing a fictional client about a legal problem. Their job was to extract as much information from the client as possible and then give them legal advice on the spot. With only 25 minutes to complete the task, a lot of quick thinking was required.
“A major part of it is making the client feel as comfortable as possible,” says Ms Ather. “Sometimes you get clients who are reserved and reluctant to talk to lawyers – just like you would in the real world. It’s important to read the situation, react to the client’s body language and ask specific questions to extract information. Little details can make a big difference.”
Having worked together since their first year at university, the duo know how to work as a team. Jenn does an introduction, both question the client, and Sarah concludes with some legal options.