• James

My Jessup Journey: A Story of Survival


It has taken a while to get around to writing this post. You see, I have been in what you could call a ‘decompression’ phase. This decompression involves a great lack of anything academic and remotely involving the law. But I guess you’re wondering how my Jessup experience panned out.

Down to it

My team arrived the day before the preliminary rounds began. We had the dis-disillusioned idea we would have time to do some practice moots. Then at 4pm we were given four other memorials for the teams we would be up against. A frenzied panic ensued. The way the memorials are divided out is interesting as it is done by ‘seeding’ the memorials would have been ranked A-D so we had one very strong one, a weaker one and two in the middle. So the storm of reference checking and argument finessing began.

Getting other teams’ memorials is a double-edged sword, as we read them we had the ‘AH HA! I knew it’ moments when the other teams had similar arguments to us (coaches were not able to assist us on the law, they could only lightly guide us so we never knew 100% if we were on the right track) and those stomach dropping moments when we realised something was missing. A series of events common through all the teams.

The Preliminary Rounds

We were up early practice mooting and preparing for the onslaught of questions from the bench. Each team mooted four times; it was sort of fun in a masochistic kind of way.

On the Friday when all the first round moots had finished there was a BBQ… which quickly became known as the ‘socially awkward BBQ’ because the teams who moved to the next round were announced and ten teams had to quickly exit (after wishing people well in the next round) to commence the drinking. The Wigg and Pen was invaded with many, many law students who after going through our shared public international law hell were free. FREE!

Semis

I would very much like to say I went to these and watched… but the celebrations of being free from the yoke of Jessup bought its own burden in the form of a hangover that demanded a steady supply of water and to be nursed in a darkened room. Sorry guys.

Finals

A big congratulations to the finalists, the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne. After watching two amazing teams duke it out in the High Court I know you guys will do Australia proud.

The Verdict

Without detracting from the winners or teams that mooted in the semis, I am going to be honest: this competition did leave a somewhat sour taste in many of the students’ mouths. Having whole panels of three judges who were coaches and other panels made entirely of ‘ring in’ professionals detracts from the authenticity and supposed un-biased way teams were scored. Plus some moots were held in rooms that were no bigger than a broom closet, while other teams got the opportunity to use a moot room much like the one we had all been practicing in. The organisers did a fantastic job, but there are a few issues that could be addressed ahead of next year’s competition.

Would I do it again – no way! Am I glad I did? You bet!

Jessup has been an experience that I have taken so much away from, I would highly recommend it to any law student who wants to squeeze as much as the law student experience as possible! Do it guys, if only for the opportunity to have dinner in the High Court with a High Court Justice.

Again, wishing our teams all the best in the international rounds, we know you will make us proud!

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