By Jenny WhalenMarch 21, 2014
Editor's Note: The University of Michigan Law School European Law Moot Court team competed March 28 as the only U.S.-based team against the universities of Lund, Leuven, and Maastricht in the All-European Final at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The title went to Maastricht.
Victorious at the European Law Moot Court (ELMC) Regional Final in Slovakia, and advancing soon to the All-European Final at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg, members of the University of Michigan Law School's ELMC team are running on equal parts adrenaline and caffeine as they prepare to argue the greatest case of their law school careers.
Considered the most prestigious worldwide moot court competition on European Union law, the ELMC is sponsored by the Court of Justice of the European Union and judged by CJEU judges and Advocate Generals. Michigan's team—the Law School's first—defeated 11 others at its Regional Final, held Feb. 27-March 2 in Bratislava, Slovakia, to advance to the Final, which will be held March 28 at the Court of Justice.
"A lot of time and effort went into preparing for the Regional Final and the team did an amazing job," said LLM and coach Nika Bacic. "Every single one of them is very smart, dedicated, hard working, and crucial to the success of the team. We work perfectly together."
The admiration is mutual, with LLM Chloë Bell, and 3Ls Ali Beidoun, Brian Dearing, and Kyle Luebke crediting much of their success to Bacic's leadership, intense training regimen, and thorough research.
"Nika has worked ridiculously hard to prepare us," said Dearing, who competed as the team's Advocate General. "We held 10-hour panels and studied through the night in the days leading up to the regional competition."
And with just two weeks left until the Luxembourg Final, the team anticipates many more late-night practice sessions and early-morning cold calls from Bacic as arguments for their case are being perfected based on lessons learned in Bratislava.
The case is a hypothetical one dealing with EU law, same-sex marriage, residence rights of EU citizens and their family members, cross-border health care, procedural rights, and many other specific issues in this vein. With no assigned sides prior to competition, teams must prepare to argue—in both English and French—the position of applicant and defendant.
Advancing past the preliminary oral arguments and semifinals of the Regional Final, a coin toss determined that Luebke, with the support of Bell, would argue the defense in the closing round.
"During the two hours we had to prep, Ali was researching cases online, Nika and Chloe were shouting questions at me, and I was walking in circles trying to absorb as much information as I could," Luebke remembers. "It felt like having the entire semester of Prof. Daniel Halberstam's EU class crammed into two hours."
For Bell, those moments pleading in the competition were some of the most nerve-wracking she has ever known, although her teammates assure her she was the picture of calm. "We had no idea what the other teams would be like," Bell said. "You're putting yourself up to be crushed." The 30-minute wait to hear the results constituted another form of agony entirely. "We were all holding hands and I may have forgotten to breathe. Finally the judges returned from conference to announce the winner. Hearing we had won was a moment I'll never forget."
Even now the team looks back on their win with a sense of accomplishment, although no time has been wasted basking in the accompanying euphoria. As Bacic is quick to remind her team, "There is much more work to be done."
Michigan Law heads into the All-European Final as the only U.S.-based team, squaring off against the universities of Lund, Leuven, and Maastricht.
Pictured (L to R): LLM Nika Bacic, 3Ls Brian Dearing, Ali Beidoun, Kyle Luebke, and LLM Chloë Bell.
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