ON THE back of their victory in Australia, the University of Queensland (UQ) Jessup Moot team will head to Washington DC this month to compete on the international stage.
The UQ team, made up of Anthony Bremner, Laura Grant, Jessica Howley, Belinda McRae and Angus O’Brien, beat the University of Sydney in the Australian final at the High Court on 10 February 2007, overseen by chief justice, the Honourable Murray Gleeson AC. As finalists, both teams will be heading to Washington to meet the best in the world on 25 March.
UQ also dominated the individual speaking honours, with Howley being named best speaker in the competition, second place going to Grant, and third to McRae.
In a review of Howley’s performance at a preliminary round, one judge from the Department of Foreign Affairs said “it is difficult to comment. You can’t improve on perfection”. It is therefore no surprise that law firms are already contacting the Arts/Law student to discuss her future career, even if that possibility didn’t figure strongly in her thinking when she joined the team.
“I didn’t think it would have as much impact as it has,” Howley said of the attention firms are paying her following the team’s success. “I’ve been on the phone to marketing people all week, so it has obviously been having quite an impact.”
Howley said the experience of beating Australian teams should stand UQ in good stead for the Washington competition.
“I think we’ll do relatively well. I know Australia has a very strong record in the competition, so having competed against the Australian teams, we know we must be up there,” she said. “But definitely you have some hot competition from America and the UK and so on.”
The team is coached by three moot veterans now working in the industry. Tom Fletcher and Stephen Knight are young lawyers at Minter Ellison, while Tamerlan van Alphen is an associate to Judge Michael Forde.
Fletcher competed in the international Jessup competition for UQ in 2003, before working for Queensland Chief Justice Paul de Jersey in 2005, and in the corporate advisory and dispute resolution team at Minters a year later. The experience he gained from Jessup was a decisive factor in winning a spot at his current firm.
“One of the partners in the group that I’m in now, Margaret Brown, is a big supporter of mooting, and that was one of the things that came up in my interview,” he said.
“She thought that doing a moot, such as Jessup, was a very intensive five-month process, and you learned to research in a way that you won’t learn in your undergraduate program.”
Financial support from the legal industry is essential to keep UQ’s moot team afloat. Funding has been provided by Allens Arthur Robinson, Dibbs Abbott Stillman and Minter Ellison in recent years.
“The mooting program at [UQ] is funded solely by the Brisbane profession,” Dr Jonathan Crowe, director of mooting programs at UQ, said.
“Without the support of Allens, Dibbs and Minters, the team would not be able to compete in Washington, which requires funding for the team’s travel and accommodation.”