LSS Experiences: The Gibbs Moot

James Barrett

Overall Experience

We had fun and are grateful for the experience. The competition was excellently hosted and friendly. It was nice to see the Melbourne University faculty, local barristers and former judges involved and willing to chat to competitors at length. We highly recommend this competition. This brief piece serves as an honest reflection on our experience and advice to future competitors.

Accommodation and Transportation

We flew from Canberra. The inconvenience of flying from Sydney didn’t appear cost-effective. We arrived about 3pm the day before registration. We left the afternoon after the competition. This was ideal.

We booked an AirBnB place near Queen Victoria Markets about 12 minutes’ walk from Melbourne Uni. There was no stress with transport, and although there some tight turn-arounds between commitments, we had time to drop our stuff at home, refresh, work there and use Melbourne Uni facilities when needed.

Written Submissions

Here we focus on teams that clearly put in much effort. The difference in memorial quality – both in depth of research and answering the questions – was obvious only to better competitors and judges. Some judges said, fairly, our memorials were dense, with lots of work done through footnotes. Judges who weren’t well acquainted with the area missed nuances and liked readability.

Moots

The standard of oral presentation was high and the preliminary judges’ expertise in the area varied. We realised it was best to start by assuming nothing of the judge, gauge how to work with them during the moot, and state the flaws in opposing arguments simply, ruthlessly and respectfully.

Our key strength was collective depth of research. This meant we could: (1) pick the best arguments early; (2) resort to on-point authority in tricky situations; (3) understand the underly- ing principles and debates; (4) react to the other side’s arguments put at their highest, within our own structure. Those strengths helped our delivery. We honed our use of authority towards the judges’ backgrounds, without just saying they should accept things because they had said them before. In the grand final both teams had amazing presentation but our strengths made the difference.

Team Dynamics

By rotating speaking roles between the three of us in the preliminary rounds we balanced fatigue-management with expertise on particular roles. For the finals, we unanimously chose speakers with greatest depth of knowledge and therefore the best ability to react to questions which were hard or sniped weak spots in our arguments.

We were friends before the competition, but there were tense times. We gave constructive feedback when appropriate, with the mutual understanding that it was for everyone’s benefit.

One universally useful tenet was to ‘keep perspective’. We needed to detox from the competition sometimes. This brings us to:

Social Events and Activities

We hit Lygon Street a few times. Once we went to a homely Italian restaurant. Another time we brought food back, chatted and watched TV. There was a nice cocktail event where the break was announced. We took a breath and feigned socialising but our heads were in the game.

The gala dinner was ‘black tie’, but most people were dressed as if for law ball. Ladies went through slightly less trouble for obvious reasons. Everyone looked hot. People were fairly friendly. Most were tired, so there was no expectation to be very social or kick on. Will and Prashant went to bed around 10.30pm. Nerds.

Thanks

We extend our gratitude to Associate Professor James Stellios, our coach, for taking the time to provide feedback on the merit of our arguments, organise practice moots and judge us. We thank Doctors Dominique Dalla-Pozza and Ryan Goss for judging those moots and supporting us.

Team

James Barrett

Prashant Kelshiker

Will Randles

Experience: the Mooties

Dan Trevanion

Last summer I was part of the ANU 2016 Jessup Moot team. The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is in its 57th year in 2016. It is the world’s largest mooting competition, with participants from more than 550 law schools in 80 countries. Teams compete in regional qualifying competitions in a bid to advance to the International Rounds held in Washington.

What is it like to be part of Jessup? Jessup was a collection of events that on their own are miserable and unbearable yet together form an experience so meaningful and exceptional that I would do it all again. Our preparation began in November 2015 after exams ffinished. We worked solidly throughout the summer with 24 hour access to the law library except a short break over Christmas as the library was fumigated. Collaboratively, we completed two written memorials of about 12,000 words each ar- guing each side of the case by mid-January. Next, we had about 20 practice moots with our coaches and guest judges over 3 weeks to prepare for the national rounds in early February.

This was in many ways your typical group assign- ment experience mixed with some fire and brimstone. I met most of my team for the first time just before exams. We broke the ice over 2 for 1 pizza at Debacle that night then forgot about each other until exams were over a month later. We divided the problem five-ways. Then spent the next few weeks silently (for the most part) tolerating each other’s most obnoxious study habits. As the deadline for submissions drew nearer the calls to check out the latest YouTube clip became less frequent.Our arguments and critique became louder and more pronounced. The nights became longer – if you think academics have a cushy lifestyle I can testify that they roam the library at 1am. It was by any measure a terrible way to be spending my summer holidays.

Any description of Jessup must include these mis- erable and unbearable moments. These moments are shared drunkenly by all competitors on the last day of competition at Mooseheads. But there are also the exceptional moments that are unique and meaningful to me. When I first walked into my FAL tutorial room I didn’t realise five years later it would be my safe haven when I needed a break. I also never thought that the ‘freshest’ meal to eat over the summer would be a McDonald’s salad. When someone mentions a pomodoro I think of study not a tomato. When I walk to a particular corner of the High Court I will remember five students and two academic staff in a football huddle ring up for our last moot as UQ shoot us quizzical glances.

I’ve now presented submissions in the High Court of Australia, travelled to Washington to compete among 136 other teams, and all while receiving support and email chains from friends, family and ANU College of Law staff that made us feel like an Australian representative sport team. Never has such a collection of miserable events become something as meaningful and unique an experience as Jessup.

Even now I can picture my team reading this, some rolling their eyes, others editing my writing. Each of us is moving on to different paths in our lives; one of us to The Hague, another Italy, another Yale. But each of us shares a unique and meaningful experience in Jessup. I would do it all again and you should try it too.

Applications for the ANU Jessup Team open around September. Keep an eye out for information sessions. For more information contact Kate Ogg or Imogen Saunders.