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.
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.
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.
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.
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.