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5 lessons I learned participating in a national mooting competition

Written by Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce student Becci Tannenbaum.

Objection your honour! Whilst being in court may not exactly be the Harvey Specter experience, there is certainly an adrenaline rush that comes with conversing with the bench.

I experienced the courtroom rush for myself during the 2020 Sir Harry Gibbs Constitution Law Moot, where I represented Bond University alongside my teammates Olivia English and Alexander Gorshechnikov.

The Moot is convened by the Melbourne University Law Students Association and was run virtually this year, which presented its own challenges. We were faced with a fictional law case that was based on the coronavirus pandemic and reserved two questions for the court. First, whether the relevant legislation and direction breached the Implied Freedom of Political Communication and second, whether entering a Memorandum of Understanding falls within the scope of executive power at a state level.

165 footnotes, 29 Implied Freedom of Political Communication judgments, 10 practice moots, 2 months, 3 hard-working team members and 1 supercoach extraordinaire (Dr Danielle Ireland-Piper) later, we placed in the top four of the country!

Here are five things I learnt whilst competing in the Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot. 

1. A good team is a great team!

I was fortunate enough to be put with two of the most incredible people. With long hours (and even longer cases to read), having the right team by my side was critical. Everyone is always so quick to diss teamwork as a result of bad past experiences; however, whilst prepping for the competition I learnt that when in a team with people you genuinely enjoy spending time with, who are as driven and dedicated as you and who have your back, together you will thrive. From late night strategy plans to pep talks, I am so grateful for Alex and Liv and would not have made it through the competition without them.

2. Take on as many opportunities at Uni as you can

Alex was a veteran mooter when he joined the team, on the other hand, if you ask Liv or I, competitive mooting was never really on the cards for us. However, after having competed in the Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot we are so happy that we took on the experience. From advocating with real Supreme and Federal Court Justices to becoming nimble case readers, we certainly understood the value this opportunity would add not only to our resumes, but to our general skills. Law students are very used to working on their own, so by taking on this opportunity we were able to learn how to work together in applying our legal knowledge and meshing our unique styles to form a cohesive team – this emulated what real practice is. Practical learning is so vital and so whether it is a moot, negotiation, business client interview, internship at a newspaper or whatever is relevant to your degree, take it on!

3. The new virtual world isn’t bad at all

If an ‘all expenses paid’ trip to Melbourne isn’t an incentive to compete in the Moot, then I don’t know what is! However, with Coronavirus plaguing Victoria, we needed to swiftly adapt to mooting online. Initially overwhelmed by the need to stare at a green dot and ensure our body language was ‘computer friendly’, we very quickly learnt that a new world online isn’t that daunting. In fact, it ended up being more effective, as we were able to brainstorm rebuttals as a group without having to remain silent in a physical court, access printers and textbooks anytime and go home to our own beds (a massive luxury in the world of mooting).

4. Being organised and having written submissions finished before 6pm is a possibility

Whilst its not the norm to have hours to spare before written submissions (a document summarising the relevant facts and arguments) are due, with good team synergy, organisation and a sense of humour along the way, we made it a reality! Possibly a first for Bond Uni, we are happy to go down in the record books as the most organised Constitutional Law mooters.

5. Always have a bottle of Gatorade nearby

This is the most important one! We were doing two – three moots per day, which surprisingly is exhausting…. But you must stay on top of your game to respond to the Judges with agility and without being on a caffeine buzz. Gatorade ensured I was hydrated and energised and when drinking the pretty pink colour I felt just like Elle Woods.

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