Whilst the purpose of this blog is to recount all of our exciting adventures as team members on the 2020/2021 Deakin Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot team, it also facilitates an opportunity for deeper, personal reflection; ‘pillow thoughts’, if I might say.
Vis Moot will bring to a team member’s attention an array of things they did not previously know about themselves. I quietly giggle upon reminiscing the naïve law student that I was (and probably still am), waiting for the Vis Moot experience with nothing but positive expectations in mind: ‘wow, I cannot wait for this real-life, practical experience that will make me nothing but super excited for my future career as a lawyer’, ‘everyone on the team are like-minded law students so we are all bound to agree on everything’, ‘surely, it can’t be that hard- all my other law units have been manageable so far’.
Somebody call Oxford, because they need to update their definition of ‘naïve’ to include my name. In other words, I have been grateful for the reality-check that has been the Vis Moot experience so far.
Let me address the elephant in the room: Vis Moot is extremely challenging. Yes, nobody said it was going to be easy, but equally nobody can explain or prepare you for the personal journey you are in no way shape or form expecting to embark on. The best analogy I can provide would be this: imagine yourself at Movie World (an Australian amusement park), thirteen years old, and barely scraping the height requirement of the roller coaster you are about to ride. At first you are excited and can already taste the adrenaline of the experience you are pre-empting. As the ride begins to incline, however, say aloha to your second thoughts. The reality of what exactly you have gotten yourself into sets in, and you glance back to the ground: safe, comfortable, and stable, where nothing can possibly go wrong. As the ride approaches its peak and you begin to gain speed on the downslope, you close your eyes as your mind struggles to grasp the concept of just how fast you are travelling. MAKE IT STOP! SLOWER! I WANT OFF THIS CRAZY RIDE! Just what EXACTLY have I done to myself?
But then something beautiful happens. During all the craziness, fear and confusion, you find it in yourself to let go of your hands firmly grasping the railing and throw them into the air. It’s not that you have let the ride take control, but rather, that you have taken control of your own emotions by accepting the reality of the ride. Somehow, you find yourself enjoying the emotional challenge you are faced with. There is a peculiar empowerment to the calculated acceptance of lacking control- something of which law students, as self-acclaimed perfectionists, often struggle with. As a Vis Moot team member, you must come to terms with not being able to control the ride, but only how to respond to and grow from it.
The naïve me excitedly lined up for the Vis Moot ride at Movie World, packed to the brim with misconceptions and stereotypical expectations. As the ride commenced, I began to question my passion for law. Those many anxious days feeling completely overwhelmed. Am I good enough for law? Is this what I want for myself? How is it that the harder I work, the more work I find for myself? Why does my team member just not possibly see my point of view? This is all too much!
However, as the ride has now begun to peak, I am slowly able to release my hands from the rail and enjoy the experience. I sit here in disbelief that I was honoured to be chosen to be a team member on the Deakin Vis Moot team this year. How incredible this insight into the practical legal world has been. I can now more closely align my expectations with reality, and properly prepare myself for what is to come. For someone who used to crumble under the criticism of others, how remarkable that I am now able to thrive from constant feedback from peers, respected academics, graduates and past team members. How fantastic to be able to learn how to manage the differing values held amongst your team members, whilst being challenged to not stray from your own.
Future Vis Moot team members, be warned of the intimidating incline, but please make sure to let go of the rails eventually. At the same time, always keep the ground in sight: look after your mental health, mute the group chat occasionally, do not let one moot define you, keep your loved ones and support system close, do not once stray from your personal values, do not sacrifice your hobbies and the things you love, let this experience feed your passion. Find a balance.
Although we still find ourselves on the peak of the Vis Moot ride, but oh boy do I look forward to what surprises the end may bring. Will the ride break down? Will I fall out? Will we return safely to the ground, or will I then crave a taste for the bigger rides at Movie World? These are all unknowns that we cannot control, but learn to love. Until then, future Vis Moot team members, I will keep you posted.