Gift of the Gab on show at the Golden Gavel competition

13 May 2021

Golden Gavel judging panel

Five brave, young Canberra lawyers took the opportunity to flex their comedic muscles at Monday night’s Golden Gavel - an ACT Law Society event to raise funds for charity as part of Law Week.

Contestants were provided with a tongue in cheek topic, and given just 24 hours to prepare a five minute stand-up routine showcasing their advocacy skills and wit.

Competition was strong, but it was Daniel Magnussen’s commentary on the Canberra law-scape as a new lawyer that won him the title of the Golden Gavel.  Daniel was the first speaker with the topic of ‘the hero that Canberra law deserves, just not the one it needs right now,’ and set the comedic standard for the night that ultimately proved unbeatable.  Since being admitted as a lawyer in 2020, Daniel has specialised in family law.

“I was drawn to family law because of its strong client focus.  I enjoy working directly with people and seeing that the work I do has a tangible impact on their lives,” Daniel said.

Following his win, Daniel will go on to represent the ACT at the National Golden Gavel Competition to be held later this year.

Holly Johnson took out the People’s Choice award, after winning the crowd over with her response to the topic, ‘why I like subpoena coladas and getting caught and arraigned: the trials of dating a lawyer.’  Holly jokingly described lawyers stepping through relationships in ‘billable hours’ – the six minute blocks used to calculate client fees.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury was one of the four-member judging panel alongside ACT Supreme Court Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson, Lawcover CEO Kerrie Lalich and Paul Kane, CEO of charity group Raw Potential.

The Attorney-General opened the event noting the valuable role lawyers play in helping the community.

“Lawyers have the power to help those who find themselves in a tough position, and simply don’t know what to do.  It was really heartening to see the raw talent on show of some of our city’s younger legal professionals who are on the frontline of a very challenging space.  The Golden Gavel provides an opportunity to test their advocacy skills and powers of persuasion, and the five participants did not disappoint,” Attorney-General Rattenbury said.

Funds raised through the Golden Gavel event will be donated to Raw Potential – a charity run by volunteers.  CEO Paul Kane said the charity provides outreach services to hard to reach young people.

“Our workers go out to the kids, meet them on their turf, at a time that works for them.  In a normal year, we help up to 460 new clients working out what they need and helping them out with things like swags, basic toiletries.. our outreach workers help them connect with services like centrelink, counsellors and health centres.”

Law week 2021 runs from Monday 10 to Saturday 15 May.  For more information about local Law Week events visit