Yet again, Hannes Snellman is happy to welcome up to 150 Willem C. Vis Moot Court Competition participants and enthusiasts to the traditional Helsinki Pre-Moot this week! To mark the occasion, two members of Hannes Snellman’s own “Vis Moot team”, DR Partner Anna-Maria Tamminen and her mentee Thesis Trainee (and soon-to-be Associate Lawyer) Ina Rautiainen, shared some of their own mooting experiences.
How was your Vis Moot year?
Ina: Fun, educational, at times difficult, crazy – you name it! I participated in the Vis Moot as a member of the team of the University of Helsinki just last year. We worked crazy hard and learned a lot about law, ourselves, and presentation skills, for example. Thankfully, I had the most incredible team to share the journey with, as locking six people into a small room at the library for half a year certainly was the ultimate Big Brother experience. After our release from the library, we also got to travel to pre-moots in some amazing cities in Europe and Asia and take part in the great Helsinki Pre-Moot as well – thank you to our sponsors once again! The whole experience was also very rewarding in the end, as we took home the trophy for our memorandum for respondent from the Vis East Moot, and I was also awarded an honourable mention in the category of best individual oralist in the oral rounds in Vienna.
Anna-Maria: It was the year I actually decided to become a litigation lawyer. I did the Vis Moot as a member of the team of the University of Vienna during my Erasmus exchange year. In Finland, I had always worked in parallel to my studies, and in Vienna, I had all the time in the world to devote to my courses, the best of which was the moot. I was fortunate enough to get to be a part of a fantastic team, and we delved into the work headfirst, spending evenings and weekends at the university in Seminar Room 53 working on our briefs and pleadings. The experience taught me the basics of how to hone an argument, draft a brief, and make the most of team work – but most of all, I discovered the joys of oral advocacy. As a team, we won awards for both our submissions and made it to the finals, and I’ll never forget the experience of pleading on stage in front of all the mooties. Personally, I was awarded the Martin Domke Award for Best Oralist, as a result of which I was offered an internship in London to work in international arbitration. I don’t think I would be doing what I do today if it weren’t for the moot.
What would you consider the biggest benefits of participating in a moot court competition?
Ina: It never hurts to gain some practical experience before graduating. In moot court competitions, you actually get to try it all and learn it all (the hard way, where necessary). There are all kinds of moot courts specialising in different fields of law, ranging from space law to employment law – something for everyone, depending on your interests. Mooting is also a great way to fine-tune your legal writing and presentation skills. Writing my thesis has certainly been a breeze compared to writing our memoranda for the competition, with endless re-writes and fights about commas. Vis Moot certainly wasn’t always easy, but I believe that the lessons I learnt will be of great help now that I’m about to start my career.
Anna-Maria: To me, the biggest benefit was the introduction to practical work. As the teaching of law was very theoretical (at least for the first few years of law school), I found the moot a welcome window to practice. It was also a great opportunity to work on critical skills such as oral argumentation and team work, and it introduced me to many people who have become a part of my professional network. Long story short, it put me on my current career path.
What tip would you give to the participants?
Enjoy the ride – you have worked hard to put your argument together, so you should enjoy presenting your case to every panel at the pre-moot and the moot itself!