The young lawyers of St Petersburg University continue to win in the international competitions in law. Among the recent achievements is the Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Helsinki.  

What is a mootcourt?

Mootcourt is not just an extracurricular activity. It is a hobby how the young lawyers can highlight their passion, commitment and determination to succeed. In moutcourts, you take part in the simulated court or arbitration proceedings. It usually involves analyzing the court materials and participating in oral arguments before the court. The opponent is usually a student team from the foreign university. Students prepare their memorials in writing in advance to argue the sides of both the Applicant and Respondent.

Mootcourt is an international simulated court proceeding in English.

Some competitions (the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Problem) have national or regional events to select the best teams for the international round, while other competitions (the Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot or Competition for Foreign Direct Investment) hold pre-moot events that are hosted in the regions and prepare for the moot. Knowing law in depth is essential for both preparation or national events and moots.

Today there is a wide range of mootcourt competitions, and there is something for each student.

Why is it important?

Mootcourts are the Olympic Games for legal students. What requirements the mootcourts impose and how they are held are what makes them unique and prestigious. The participants show deep and accurate understanding of international law, drafting skills, skills in oral argument, and proficiency in English.

The competition provides an excellent way for teams to develop new skulls to progress in career.

Preparing memorials means you have scrutinized countless books on arbitrage and painstaking editing. It is effort- and time-consuming as you have to balance your preparation and study (and even work).

Member of the SPbU’s team at the Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Artemii Kuprianov

Better public speaking, tips for improving oral argument, preparation rounds — all these make young lawyers more laborious and think outside the box. The competitions make them solve specific cases and they therefore become more competitive on graduate labour market: if you want to work or get internship with an international law firm, the mootcourt is a must to include in your CV.

The mootcourts are prestigious events as they have the world’s leading judges. Among them are the judges of the International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, representatives of the international law firms and universities. Although the panel of arbiters is different, the key selection requirement nevertheless remains the same: all members must be high-calibre experts.  In 2018, in the pre-moot of the Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot the chairperson of the arbiters was Dr. Ingeborg Schwenzer, LL.M. Counsel & Arbitrator, who, in memorials and oral argument, each team refer to. The panel of arbiters also included the Secretary General of the Finnish Arbitration Court of the Finnish Chamber of Commerce Heidi Merikalla-Teir and a partner of the law firm of Hannes Snellman Anna-Maria Tamminen.

Success of SPbU’s teams: A tribute to tradition?

St Petersburg University is among the first universities in Russia to take part in the international mootcourts. St Petersburg University pioneered in the Jessup in 1990.

Today, the teams of legal students represent SPbU in a number of international moots. The Jessup, Willem C. Vis, and Competition for Foreign Direct Investment are among the key destinations for our students.  The University is always on the top. The teams that took part in the Jessup were the seven-time national winners during 10 years and showed good performance at the international events. The SPbU’s team that took part in the WTO Law competition won the European round and represented the University at the international final. The Competition for Foreign Direct Investment is not an exception: our team also got the highest score and was awarded a prize for the best memorial at the international rounds.

What are the requirements?

Arsenii Salamatov who is a couch of the SPbU’s team and was a member of the team in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 told us through how to take part in the Willem C. Vis Competition. “If you want to be selected as a member of the team, you should know the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods of 1980 and basics of the international commercial arbitration. Proficiency in English is a must”, — said Arsenii Salamatov. Those who are selected as the members of the team are motivated for success, he says. The competition is a unique chance for them to make the most of the student life to excel in career.

The main selection round is held in September. In October, you should start to prepare for the written part of the competition: the couches have weekly meetings with the students and supervise how they prepare memorials at home. The late January is a time to start preparation for the oral argument: the coaches and students meet two-four times a week. “While preparing for the oral argument, we have mock sessions in St Petersburg with those who have already taken part in the competition or lawyers in private law. The team also takes part in the pre-moots. Then we go to Vienna for the final round: during the competition the coaches give comments on-line, correct the positions of the sides, rehears  the speeches, and support morally and psychologically” — said Arsenii Salamatov.

The main selection round for the Willem C. Vis, Jessup, and Lachs is held in autumn.

To help motivated students we hold summer schools. In 2018, we will have for the third year.

Director of the programme of International Mootcourt Competitions, SPbU Associate Professor of the Department of International Law Ksenia Shestakova

“We select students for the summer school in late May. Proficiency in English, interest to the international public and private law, motivation, and resourcefulness are essential. From late June to mid-August, the students get materials for self-preparation, including the topics for essays based on the books they are to read. In late August and early Spetember, the students are involved in intensive preparation by discussing what they have read, writing arguments, and practicing oral argument”, — said Ksenia Shestakova.

How you benefit?

The competition provides an excellent opportunity to improve your reasoning and logical thinking skills, interpret the legal norms, communicate your ideas clearly and completely, improve your drafting skills, and public speaking skills. Artemii Kuprianov shared his experience: “The Willem C. Vis provided a unique opportunity for me to get insight into the arbitration and deep understanding of how this institute works. What have I gained? Extensive knowledge of arbitration, presentation skills in arbitration and court. Now I feel at ease when speaking before the court, making counterarguments to the opponent, and persisting on my point of view”.

“The international mootcourt competitions enable students to perfect their professional skills. Moreover, they pose challenging tasks to solve. The cases are usually based on the controversial cases that have not been fully solved yet. The students come up with new ideas, and all these make us incredibly involved”, — said Ksenia Shestakova.

The mootcourts provide an opportunity for the students to gain some practical experience in solving the most up-to-date cases in international law, teach them how to prepare memorials and make oral argument before the court. The mootcourts are an excellent way to gain success in classroom and take a step forward to your successful career in law.