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With all due respect? Wes’s owl a winner

Every Issue

Cite as: (2008) 82(7) LIJ, p. 94

An evocative tale about a dyslexic owl has swooped the main prize in this year’s annual LIV short story competition.

In precisely 50 words – as required under the competition’s rules – lawyer Wes Pan managed to inject humour, mood and suspense into his winning yarn:

The moon did not visit on that night.

Against a dark sky,

as black as the carbon remains of the campfire,

a dyslexic owl appealed to the night,

“moot, moot” it cried.

The campers sipped their steaming mocha lattes,

oblivious to what was lurking just two metres away from them.

More than 50 lawyers took on the challenge to shelve long-windedness and devise a 50-word short story incorporating the three words: mocha, moot and carbon.

Some, such as this one from Charles Englander, who is general counsel at the Australian Wool Testing Authority, were thought-provoking:

Al leaned back in his seat, took another long sip of his mocha java and wondered if the jet’s carbon emissions would be sufficiently off-set by the poppy crop he recently financed in Afghanistan.

It was probably a moot point, considering the numerous mushroom-like clouds sprouting ominously far below him.

Others, such as this entry from Elizabeth Beal, of the Herald and Weekly Times, dealt with more prosaic issues:

Tonight I need ice-cream. Mocha almond fudge.

Reaching into the freezer Amanda finally started to unwind.

Another long day was over after two client conferences, court, no lunch, chairing the firm’s carbon trading meeting, then judging a constitutional law moot.

Ahhh, ice-cream and Boston Legalon telly. Bliss.

Other commendable entries were:

Smithers, your moot court case is to defend a claim under the Trade Practices Act for misrepresentation for your client barista’s supply to a barrister of a mocha cappuccino instead of a carbon neutral skinny decaf soy latte, causing the victim to froth at the mouth while out of court. (Barrister Peter Burke)

Ice crunched underfoot as she bent examining the ice core, searching the amount of carbon a thousand years before. Her hands were shaking as her mind thought of a steaming hot mocha. That was a moot point as she had many more hours of cold work stretched out before her. (Michelle Kumarich, of the Financial Ombudsman Service)

While contemplating the dual benefits of Walking for Justice as a means of PILCH fundraising and reducing my carbon footprint, I internally moot the possibility that I am not yet absolved of my ethical sins when I sip on my franchised mocha latte from a nation that won’t ratify Kyoto. (Simone Leijon, an inhouse lawyer at Citco Trustees in the Cayman Islands)

The year was 2062. Ann sat serenely in her armchair, sipping a mocha. She squinted through the protective coated window, eyes stinging, focusing on a factory now devoid of carbon emissions. She reflected on the days when global warming was considered a moot point and laughed ironically to herself. Fools.(Sylvia Florescu, of Hall & Wilcox)

Caulfield Grammar teacher David Thomson liked the idea of the competition so much he set it as a task for his legal studies students.

His year 10 student, Nicholas Brewer, displayed some insight into how the legal world operates with his entry.

Nicholas, who won the separate competition within the school, wrote:

“Two questions: answer them truthfully if you want to be a lawyer here,” stated Mr Carbon, looking at the young man’s sweaty palms.

“Can you moot?”

“Never tried.”

“You buy coffee daily?”

“Mocha ...”

“Good, I won’t have someone who’d beat me in a moot or won’t fetch coffee; you’re hired.”

Our winner, Wes, received a $50 book voucher and all other valid entrants received a 20 per cent discount voucher from the LIV Bookshop.

Miss Demeanour’s guide to life, love, law – and disorder

Dear Miss Demeanour

I’m rostered on to represent my firm at every law school careers fair this season. The ill-fitting t-shirts have arrived as have the heavily branded firm merchandise (memo to HR: less *is* more). Dilemma: I don’t want to lie to these well-meaning law students, but I don’t want to scare them off either (if we don’t recruit, I do discovery myself). Any hints?

Regards, Short Straw

Dear Short Straw

Treat this like exam preparation when you haven’t cracked the spine of the textbook until swot vac: take a punt on the questions, prepare answers and learn them by rote.

Here’s a cheat sheet with likely questions and (in)correct answers (note pretentious academic-y use of brackets ... goodness, such untapped skills).




Is your work really interesting?

For sure! From one day to the next I never know just what the partners have in store for me.

How much fun do you think a notice of meeting is when you’re doing it for the 33rd time?

Do you work long hours?

I get so absorbed in the challenge of assisting my clients to achieve their goals and objectives that the days fly by!

Long enough that my children think I’m just a strange man who comes to stay with their mum on weekends.

How do you handle the pressure of deadlines?

I work methodically and efficiently. This allows me time for both work and family and friends, as well as being able to contribute to my community.

I abuse alcohol. And cry.


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