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Top law student motivated by sense of right and wrong

Image: Katy at the UN Headquarters in New York City following her team’s win at the European Friendly moot

An ACG Senior College graduate is making waves in the world of law, winning a number of prestigious mooting competitions at the University of Auckland, where she’s in her fourth year of a conjoint degree in Science and Law.

Katherine Eichelbaum started mooting in her second year. She won the Auckland University Junior Moot and the NZ Law Students Association conference that year, and was named best speaker in the latter.

Since then, she’s gone from strength to strength. Katherine took part in last year’s Philip C Jessup International Moot Court Competition – widely described as the most prestigious moot competition in the world. Alongside her teammates she spent the summer researching and drafting written submissions and doing practice moots in front of a variety of international law experts and experienced advocates.

The team were undefeated in the pre-moot practice competition in Hungary and made it to the octofinals of the international rounds in Washington DC. The submissions Katherine co-authored were ranked second in the world.

She says mooting requires a combination of skills – from public speaking and good legal knowledge to confidence and flexibility under questioning and the ability to think quickly on your feet. Personality plays a role, too.

“A certain charisma and charm is important for developing rapport with your judges, and for winning them around to your side of the argument. That said, every judge is different, so a comment that would convince one judge may irritate another!” she explained.

Outside of mooting, Katherine has been recognised with a University of Auckland Blues Award for Leadership and Service to the Community as a result of her involvement with her local Toastmasters club.

Her road to these achievements hasn’t been easy. In her first year of university, a skiing accident put her in a wheelchair for several months and she was told she was unlikely to dance again – she had been an accomplished dancer. It look a long time for her to regain confidence in her abilities, making her success hard earned and doubly impressive.

At ACG Senior College, Katherine was valedictorian, Top of the World in Cambridge AS Geography, and a top orator. She was a student leader, a member of the G Unit environmental group, a tutor to other students and part of the Social Awareness and Rights Committee. Above all, she credits the school for teaching her to be independent.

“The longer classes, tertiary-style timetabling and more challenging content provided a perfect transition to undergraduate study. It armed me with a confidence in my own abilities, encouraging me to strive for more and always put myself forward as I continued into the legal world. I can truly attribute the success I have had in my studies to ACG Senior College placing me on the right path to begin with,” she said.

Going forward she hopes to pursue law, but continue to develop her passion for science.

“I have always been motivated by a sense of justice, and a strong moral sense of right and wrong. Law is a field that would allow me to practise these values, and also where it feels possible to make a tangible difference to the world and to people’s lives. There is a real and growing emphasis on service to the community and leaving the world a better place than you found it. This is important to me.”

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