Law students argue their way to the top

April 23, 2013

(L-R) Carmel Proudfoot, Elyse Fernandez, Veronica Burns, Molly Greenfeld and Ahshiba Sultana.

A team of five Murdoch law students is celebrating a top-eight finish in the world’s largest and most prestigious moot court competition.

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, held in Washington D.C., attracted participants from over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries.

Four teams from Australia made it into the international stage of the competition, with only two (including Murdoch) finishing in the top eight.

The Murdoch team, made up of Veronica Burns, Elyse Fernandez, Molly Greenfeld, Carmel Proudfoot and Ahshiba Sultana won all four of their preliminary round match-ups, defeating teams from Colombia, Hong Kong, Iceland and Nepal.

Victories over the Russian Academy of Justice and Washington University of St Louis secured the team a place in the quarter finals, where their winning run came to an end at the hands of Columbia Law School.

A diverse range of contemporary issues were debated, including the consequences of climate change on statehood, human rights protections for migrants and foreign sovereign debt.

Lorraine Finlay, a lecturer from Murdoch University’s School of Law, said the result is an incredible achievement.

“Murdoch has received excellent results in international moot competitions over the past few years and this Jessup result is a definite highlight,” she said.

The gruelling training schedule saw Mrs Finlay, along with co-coaches Ryan van der Merwe and Andrew Mason, working endless hours with the team in the eight months leading up to the competition.

The group often managed to meet on weekends and at nights in an effort to maximise their chances of success.

Between them, the students drafted two 9000-word memorials and each also completed an intensive advocacy training program.

“To have so many students successfully competing on the international stage really shows the strength of our Murdoch moot program,” Mrs Finlay said.

The team also expressed their thanks to the past Jessup competitors, judges, lawyers and academics who volunteered to judge practice moots in the lead up to the competition.

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