On 4 March 2016 at 11:30am, four very excited albeit a little stressed law students boarded a flight to Hong Kong to participate in the 13th Vis East Moot and then to Vienna to participate in the 23rd Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. That moment had finally come. It suddenly dawned on all of us that those endless late nights spent in the moot court were completely worth it.
Our preparation was brutal but vital. The months of November, December and January consisted of memoranda writing. We spent hours debating whether a colon or semicolon made more sense grammatically – getting the language perfected was paramount. Most importantly however, we spent these few months researching international commercial arbitration and writing approximately 50,000 words per person on the specific issue assigned to us. This part of our preparation was just as important as the oral advocacy portion of the moot because we learnt how to master legal writing and how to answer problems concisely. We also learnt how to manage team dynamics and differing opinions when putting the memoranda together.
After submitting both Claimant and Respondent memoranda, we undertook oral advocacy training. The month of February was spent in Barristers’ chambers and in the meeting rooms of top tier firms. It was such a great opportunity to build those contacts! It was also fantastic to see how practitioners from all areas of the legal profession interpreted our problem, and each of them gave us valuable insight into oral advocacy and how to best represent a client.
So as you can see, arriving in Hong Kong after months of hard work and dedication was a great reward. Apart from meeting intelligent and friendly law students from all over the world who had just experienced an almost identical past few months, we met some of the world’s most accredited academics, judges and lawyers. Their feedback was substantial and valuable, and is something we will implement in both our time as students and carry into our professional careers. One of the greatest opportunities was in Vienna when Annmarie and I mooted in front of a previous House of Lords Judge, Sir Anthony Evans.
Overall, the Vis moot was such a fantastic experience and one that I will never forget. The people we have met and places we were able to see was a great opportunity provided to us by La Trobe Law School and we are all grateful we were selected to represent La Trobe University. The Vis moot has not only helped me in my professional career, but has built my confidence and enhanced my skills in day-to-day life. Finally, Magda Karagiannakis’s coaching has been unforgettable and something I will value for the rest of my life.
Mariam Francis on behalf of the 2016 Vis Moot Team