Do you learn legal skills when you compete?

01/10/2017

There are a lot of opinions about competitions. A lot of people like them because they find them exciting, other people just hate them because in some occasions they find them unfair, or suppose too much effort, or simply they are just afraid to participate.

I had opportunity to participate in a lot of them, since sportive to profesional. In fact, for litigation lawyers, the trial is a serious competition, where you win or lose, with the satisfaction or frustration of your client in game. 

I've just attended at one which I enjoyed. It is about the X Competition of International Arbitration that took place this year in Buenos Aires for the University of Buenos Aires and the University Del Rosario of Colombia. The organization (which was magnificent by the way) was in charge of the professors Roque Caivano and Verónica Sandler, who every year demonstrate how to do things way better, with the participation of 48 university teams represented by students of almost all the countries of the Americas. 

The level of the teams that were participating was pretty high. We had the chance to participate with other 200 arbitrators simulating the conduction of oral hearings; in them the teams argued arduously and brilliantly if we should declare ourselves competent or not to elucidate the substance of a contractual controversy over the scope of copyright. The debate on jurisdiction was presented on the basis of a pathological arbitration agreement. 

Everything was very exciting! In the competition the teams gave the best of themselves and shot the adversary with all what they got. I was pretty surprised for the quality of some of the "lawyers" (they are not really graduated lawyers really). I really appreciated a lot of talent and a great mastery of the case in discussion, what only is obtained with an enormous previous preparation. 

The team of the National University of Colombia took the victory, the one I had the opportunity to evaluate in the eliminatory phase. This team discussed the final with the Peruvian University of Ciencias Aplicadas. Two great teams!

In short, competitions often bring out the best of us. Effort, preparation, talent, focusing, they are just some of that stuff. In the persecution of victory, young men and women learn a lot more than studying 17 weeks in an university course. This is what we have to welcome and what we have to promote. A learning process based on problem solving similar to the ones lawyers actually affront in the real world. For that, the Academy must put much more effort, more talent and more focusing than in a master classes that we have been hearing for about 400 years.