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.