News & Views

Tips for Vis Moot Participants

5 March 2020

The Vis Moot is a moot court competition, the purpose of which is (as stated on their website) to foster the study of international commercial law and arbitration for resolution of international business disputes. In practical terms, the task in the Vis Moot is to present your client’s case first by submitting memoranda for both the claimant and the respondent and then again in the oral hearings. The educational side of the Vis Moot, dealing with a concrete problem of a client, is very much in the interest of law firms, and Hannes Snellman is proud to have a well-established role in supporting Finnish students wishing to participate in the Vis Moot together with other reputable Helsinki-based law firms and Finnish universities. As at the dawn of Helsinki Pre-Moot 2020, we are writing about the Vis Moot for students asking the question: “Have you ever wondered what the Vis Moot would be like and whether to participate, or are you currently waiting for the oral rounds to start?”

The Vis Moot starts in October when the Problem is published. In the Problem, a case of two parties is presented in a form of a request to arbitration by the claimant and a response thereto by the respondent of the case. At the first stage of the Moot, each team prepares their memoranda for both sides of the table, i.e. for both the claimant and the respondent. The hearing of oral arguments forms the second stage of the Moot, which starts right after the teams have submitted their memoranda for respondent in or around January. At this stage, each team first try their arguments and practice their pleading skills in pre-moots such as in Helsinki Pre-Moot before the main event held in Vienna every spring.

The six-month moot period consists of studying the Problem, the underlying law and relevant cases as well as legal literature, and ever so importantly, to team working, legal reasoning, arguing, writing, and oral pleading. Although the Moot spans over a long time, the quantity of things it has to provide, in terms of education and learning, is even more impressive. In retrospect, there are a few key points on which to concentrate and which may further enhance the great experience the Vis Moot has to offer. 

1. Set Your Own Goals

By the time you are enrolling to a Vis team, you may have recognised certain areas of law or other elements that interest you in particular. These areas of interest may be more concrete, like specific branches of law such as international commercial law or certain legal institutions like contracts, or they may be more abstract like team working skills, building an argument, or legal writing. Whatever it is, you most certainly have the time and facilities to shape your interests into professional use. Having said that, it should be noted that as the moot progresses the demand level also gets higher. Without having a clear vision of what you want, there is a danger that the Moot will be an experience where you just try to make it from one stage to another. It is therefore important to exercise diligence when selecting the battles you are going to fight understanding that one will only master the art in which they are truly interested.

2. Find out What Is Important in Every Step of the Game

The structure of the Vis Moot has been chosen for a purpose and not by chance. Having participated in the Vis Moot, it seems to me that the Vis Moot is built so as to teach the basics of international commercial arbitration, give a glimpse into the skillset required of an international commercial lawyer and the collaboration between practitioners who come from different legal cultures. Applying this generic view to the level of memorandum drafting and oral pleading, a healthy dose of determination and open-mindedness is required.   

3. Find Your Own Voice

Some realities should also be brought up. Speaking for myself, I understand that I will never be able to pronounce English in the same way as a US or UK lawyer does, nor will I see the business from a perspective other than that of a Finnish lawyer – and there is only so much one can do within the six-month period with respect to their other skills as well. What I mean by this is that when you are writing the memo or pleading the case, it will take all of your time and nerves trying to be perfect on every level at once, and you are likely to fail at it. In the Moot, while it is naturally important to concentrate on your current performance, it is far more important to try to find your own voice on which to build your learning.

4. Throw Yourself into It

The Moot was so much fun for me as we had a great team and great coaches, and we met interesting people while visiting a punch of nice cities in Europe and the US as well. Also, I learned many practical skills, thanks to which I am now able to work with highly qualified professionals among complex and interesting domestic and international cases relating to banking and finance. I am confident in saying that the Vis Moot has the ability to meet a vast variety of expectations, and I recommend you to invest your time into it.