Mooting at MLS: making lifelong friendships

MLS has a long history of mooting – a law school competition where students prepare written submissions and face off in mock trials. Applications to represent MLS in the 2017-2018 Jessup Competition, the world’s largest mooting competition, are now open.

Above image (L-R): Stuart Dixon, Georgina McClough, Harry Smith, Shakti Nambiar, and Michael McArdle. Image credit: supplied.

MLS Fellow and coordinator for the Jessup moot Sebastian Machado has high expectations.

“2017-2018 will be a new year for the Jessup Moot at Melbourne Law School. It will be the year that we will be claiming MLS rightful place in the annals of Jessup history,” he says.

The competition simulates a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

“The Jessup competition has a special place in the law school’s history as MLS has the world’s third best record at the Jessup Moot, having been named World Champion three times,” Sebastian says.

The selected MLS team will participate in the Australian Rounds in Canberra in early 2018, with the top two Australian teams proceeding to the International Rounds in Washington DC.

Melbourne JD students Georgie Clough and Stuart Dixon were members of the 2016-2017 MLS Jessup team who made it to the quarter-finals in the Australian round.

“It was an intense experience, but once you become absorbed in the problem it’s not hard to spend so much time on it,” Georgie says.

“The quality of the competition in Canberra was incredibly high, and it was a real privilege to moot against such strong teams.”

The competition requires an enormous amount of preparation, with a the team spending nearly two months researching and drafting a written submission, followed by several weeks of practising moots in front of academics, barristers and Jessup alumni.

“The preparation was indeed both very difficult and very rewarding,” Stuart says.

“My tip to future mooters is to be clear about the level of commitment you can provide.”

Fortunately, the MLS team was not alone as they prepared for such an arduous competition.

“We met with MLS academics who worked particularly in areas dealt with by the moot problem,” Georgie says.

“We were also helped by MLS alumni who had been part of the competition when they were at Law School. Having recently been through the Canberra experience, their insights and guidance were invaluable.”

“We certainly could not have competed as well without them, and I am very excited to join such a vibrant alumni community to then give back myself,” Stuart says.

Sebastian could not agree more with the students.

“The team’s success in the competition actually depends on alumni and their contribution as victory does not happen by accident,” he says.

Shawn Rajanayagam (JD 2014) is amongst the alumni who made such a critical contribution to the team’s preparation.

“My team was lucky enough to conduct practice moots with several MLS alumni who generously gave up their time to provide us with feedback and insights into oral advocacy,” he says, reflecting on his own experience as a student in the Jessup moot.

”The Jessup team will often contact former MLS team members to judge them in a practice moot, as well as to provide them with an informal seminar on particular areas of public international law.

“I’ve assisted the Jessup team by participating in these ways over the last few years, as have several other recent Jessup alumni.”

The competition is however not just about studious preparation.

“Jessup is tough. In saying that, you will develop legal research and oral advocacy skills which will hold you in good stead for the rest of the JD (and beyond),” Stuart says.

“Most importantly, you will develop some of the most meaningful friendships that you will make in law school, and arguably your entire life.”

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