Before I begin I apologise for the fact that this post will only be relevant to law students going to Helsinki nonetheless the School of Law sends two students to Helsinki every year and I think its important to share this information. So sorry to all you non-lawyers but please have a look at the rest of my posts for more information about studying in Helsinki generally!
So law students – a huge selling point of spending your Erasmus in Helsinki is the opportunity to participate in international moot court competitions. Helsinki University currently enters a team into five competitions each year. These are: Telders International Moot Court Competition; Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court; The ICC Moot Court Competition; Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition and Willem C. Vis International Commerical Arbitration Moot. If you are considering going to Helsinki or you already have a place I would greatly urge you to consider ‘trying out’ for one of these teams.
This year I participated in Telders myself and it was an amazing experience I will remember for the rest of my life. Along the road I met people who participated in moots up to 30 years ago and still say they treasure the memories and I know I will too.
During my time I made friends for life with my team mates; travelled (for free) to Milan and The Hague; sat in the International Court of Justice; pled in front of esteemed international lawyers; and socialised and networked with big names in international law – both of the present and of the future. My confidence grew hugely, as did my knowledge of international law. Moot Court is the single best experience you can have if you plan to practice law you gain invaluable research, team work and oration skills. As aspiring lawyers you will no doubt have been building on such skills for many years, I thought I had, but it is during a moot court where you will discover how much you can improve, and you will!
If you are after a career in international law the moot courts are invaluable. You will make contacts both with contemporaries pursuing the same career path (who may one day become colleagues and friends) and with those well established in the field. You will also learn and understand the law in a way you never have before. I started as a complete newbie to international law and after nine months I fully understand the law on those topics covered in the case and can cite the key ICJ cases. While this may not be the most useful skill to someone not pursuing a career in international law it shows how thoroughly and intensely you learn in the environment.
So – to answer the question ‘why?’ – its an unforgettable experience with never ending rewards.
What does it involve?
At this point I can only speak with authority on the Telders competition. However all the competitions follow a similar process. If you are particularly interested in any of the others I will leave links to the all the competition websites. I also know people who took part in Jessup and ICC so if you are particularly interested in either of these please get in touch and I will try to put you in touch or get some questions answered for you.
So the Telders ‘case’ is released in October. It will be a fictional case raising several claims based in international law. Your team of four will then split into two sub teams – applicant and respondent. Having identified the issues and possible lines of research as a team (with the help of coaches employed by the University) you will divide the research. Then the work begins!
Your written memorial (for Telders 25 page argument for both applicant and respondent) will be due mid-January and this is what you’ll be working to. You will initially research and meet regularly to discuss research and present your findings to other team mates. You will eventually decide on a line of argument and write it. As a team you will then edit, redraft and cut down your memorial.
After sending your memorials in January, attention turns to oral rounds. These will take place end of April/start of May so you will spend this time writing, practicing, rewriting and learning your oral arguments. You may have the opportunity to visit law firms to judge you or to invite other members of staff at the university to guest-judge you. Depending on the competition (this year was the first year it happened for Telders), there may be a friendly round organised where you will get to try out your arguments in front of a new panel of judges and against a new opponent.
You will then travel to the Hague for the semi finals – you will participate in 4 semi finals as a team and after 2 days of semi finals the finalists will be announced. You will then have a chance to network and socialise before viewing (or participating in!) the final in the International Court of Justice on the third day.
Is it hard work?
Short answer – yes, but this should not put you off!
I fully understand that you are going on Erasmus to have fun, to travel, experience another culture and to socialise, not to spend all your free time in the library – that’s exactly why I went and that’s exactly what I did. Between September and Christmas you will be researching your topic and latterly producing a written memorial. Research is constant but, if you manage your time, not time consuming. In the last two weeks before the written memorial is due you will find yourself spending late nights in the library working in a group to proof read and cut words. This will be stressful and tiring but it is soon forgotten. Think of it as exam time studying – every year its horrible but you get through it fine in the end! Second semester you will be practicing your speech in a group once a week and spending a few hours a week practicing yourself but this is a relaxed time. Towards the end of this time, coming closer to the competition, practices may become more frequent and life generally more stressful as the nerves kick in but as I said, it is all more than worth it in the end!
While I was participating in Telders this year I never once felt that I was missing out on any ‘Erasmus fun’ and actually felt I was getting even more out of my Erasmus. Aside from the educational element I also travelled to two countries for free and built close relationships with two Finnish girls and a Bulgarian, not to mention all those I met at the international competition. So if your Erasmus aims are to travel and meet people from around the world – Moot Court will help!
Further you are rewarded for your hard work. For taking part you will get 16 ECTS (32 Glasgow credits), most courses in Helsinki are 4 ECTS so it effectively takes the place of 4 classes. Further you are rewarded for you hard work in grading which is extremely fair.
How do I get involved?
Have I sold it to you?! Well if you want to get involved it will be widely advertised upon your arrival. There will be an information session where you can find out more and ask questions and then there will be try-outs for those interested. Don’t be put off by the fact that there are try-outs (I have to admit I almost was). Yes it involves going to the library when others still haven’t set foot in the building but it is only a few hours work. You will be given a short fictional case in international law and asked to write and present an oral argument. If English is your first language you are at an advantage so remember that!
You will then be contacted and, if you are successful your coaches will guide you through the rest!
Where can I get more information?
Here are a few links you might be interest in if you are interested in finding out more:
General ‘Mooting’ Information for Public International Law Moots (Telders, Jessup, Manfred Lachs) :
Vis Moot at Helsinki :
ICC and Telders General Info :
Manfred Lachs General:
Also, as I said, I have contacts who represented Finland in the ICC and Jessup moots this year so please get intouch if you wish to be put in contact with them.
As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions : firstname.lastname@example.org