The chairperson of Education Committee of the RGSL Student association Solveiga Sama have interviewed RGSL team who took part in Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, in Washington DC. It is the most recognizable Moot Court in the world. Team was compromised of Year 3 students: Edvarts Gaigals, Rolands Žīgurs, Marshall Blankenship and Daniels Bondars.
Guys shared their big international Moot Court experience, as well as insights of Washington and how they were preparing for the event.
How did the preparation for the Moot Court go? Who helped you?
Team: Countless hours in the library to justify and support each argument that may or may not be dismissed just next time you meet with the supervisor and the rest of the group. But speaking briefly – the preparation process was long and painful. One only realizes the scope and depth of public international law when he decides to participate in a public international law moot court. The scope of the case (the Compromis) in Jessup, the world's largest moot court competition,is accordingly extremely wide. This requires great dedication, focus and, of course, time.
We received assistance with the legal issues contained in the case from one of the visiting professors at RGSL - Tjaco T. van den Hout (LL.M). We had regular meetings with him, where we discussed our legal arguments and relevant public international law issues. Additionally, we were very lucky to have several meetings with the most experienced person in Latvia with regards to Jessup – Māris Lejnieks, who gave us valuable advice regarding the procedure of pleadings. Some might recognize him as the visiting professor in 3-year course “Law of Treaties, International Responsibility and Law of International Organisations”. In addition, Mr. Ravindran assisted us at the final phase of this project. I am certain that the Team appreciated the help of these three experts.
What were your impressions of Washington and Jessup competition?
Daniels: I had already lived for a couple of months in DC, thus I was quite familiar with the city and cultural aspect of it, however the sheer size of the buildings and monuments is something you can not capture in pictures or remember from memory. A great city that I will always recommend people to go and visit! Jessup was a great experience to put the theory that we have been studying for all of these years to use. As well as a wonderful opportunity to network and gain contacts all over the world!
Edvarts: Washington D.C. is a lovely city and I can only advise everyone to visit it at least once. It combines the new and the old, and leaves an impression that will not fade for years to come. Competition itself is fierce and only the top students get to participate there. It is an amazing event that brings together different people and ideas.
Marshall: The Jessup competition itself was incredible, the level of competence of the teams participating at the international rounds was undeniable. The competition itself was demanding, and the Judges were harsh but always very competent in the field of international public law. As an American my opinion of Washington was different from those of my colleagues, my favorite part of DC is inherently the neoclassical architecture is something to behold, but it is hard to separate the city itself from the politics surrounding the decisions being made there at the time.
Rolands: The atmosphere in the city and in the area, where the event took place, was amazing and very motivational. The competition as such was very well organized and planned out. The weather was also great all week, which enabled me to go sightseeing and to visit some of the most famous monuments and buildings in the city.
What experience did you gain?
Daniels: Learning the theory is one thing, but putting it to use is something completely else. Moot court competition should be obligatory for anyone considering to continue their career in the "legal world”.
Edvarts: The most valuable lesson I gained – you can only be excellent at something, if you put your whole mind, soul, time and effort in it. You must set clear goals and tackle them with an obsession. What we saw there was something we have never seen before- students, who are “hungry for success”, who spend 12-14 hours a day trying to become the best at what they do. An inspiring experience, I would say.
Marshall: After all the moot study, I was able to gain a much better understanding of international public law, especially in its application to state liability. To name one specific experience would be hard, as you are required to understand may facets of law, obviously there was an immense learning curve that we had to overcome and this learning curve was the premier challenge I believe our team had faced. As far as experience was concerned both developing our arguments, and assessing how other teams had argued certainly gave what I felt to be the best experience, and that is to gain more understanding into the functioning of international public legal system.
Rolands: Apart from the knowledge gained in specific issues of public international law, that was the experience of meeting students and lecturers from all around the world. It was also a great experience to plead before and to get to know very prominent people from the leading universities in the world.
Would you recommend Moot Courts to other students?
Edvarts: Most definitely. Moots are valuable for developing not only one’s researching skills, but also oral presentation skills. Every student should try to participate in an international moot court, since it is probably the best place to see your future competition, the level of knowledge one should meet and simply have a great time with amazing people.
Marshall: Absolutely, there is a distinct advantage within moot courts when the school has a well-established moot court program. If you attend RGSL you should at some point consider attending moot courts for the development of your own argumentation skills. Even if you are not necessarily keen on argumentation, I would recommend trying your hand at legal research. Most teams at the Jessup competition had around two full time researchers on their teams. In short your involvement will benefit you and the school I would certainly suggest putting your name in for future moot competitions if you seek to grow intellectually within the field of law.
Rolands: For students, who are truly interested in law and litigation – definitely. This is, without a doubt, the best way for law students to develop research skills, improve presentational skills and legal argumentation, and, most importantly, to practice before pleading before a real court.