IE University is delighted with the success of our law students at this year’s European Human Rights Moot Court Competition
Organized by the European Law Students’ Association in collaboration with the Council of Europe, the competition gives undergraduate students an unparalleled practical experience in the legal field of human rights. In a simulation of an appellate court or arbitral case in the European Court of Human Rights, competitors work with a hypothetical case based on a question that has not yet been resolved by the Court of Justice.
In teams of two to four, competing students must advance through a regional round for qualification in the finals that take place in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Here, participants argue a complex case before the court, presenting their oral pleadings to real judges and référendaires from the EU Court of Justice. In this year’s Moot Court, the IE University team achieved resounding success as the overall winners of the competition. Each participating team member was awarded the opportunity to complete a traineeship at the European Court of Human Rights.
We joined Paula Belén, captain of the winning IE University team, to discover more about the process that led up to securing first place in the competition and to discuss how the experience has advanced her legal studies.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Paula Belén Moreno-Cervera de la Cuesta. I am a third-year student of the Dual Degree in Laws and International Relations, and I was born in Madrid, Spain.
Tell us about your experience at the Moot Court
Competing in Gottingen at the regional round of the European Court of Human Rights Moot Court Competition was one of the highlights of my academic career. In my experience, you’re not entirely aware of where you stand in the competition until the organization pairs universities to compete against each other. From that point on, you start to grasp the scale of the competition. The most intense moment comes right before the competition starts, as the ambience of the Moot is both very formal and professional. Even after practicing a thousand times, of course on the day you feel extra pressure. Nonetheless, after the adrenaline rush that comes before you stand up to do the oral pleadings, you realize that the hard work has paid off.
That said, the Moot isn’t only about competing—it’s also about meeting new people from all over Europe, discovering a new city, and making new friends. For me, one of the best takeaways from the Moot was bonding and forming relationships with all my team members—Ecab Amor, Theresa Jurgensen, Diane Valat, Alice Thomas (coach), and Amaya Úbeda de Torres (coach)—who I now consider great friends.
What inspired you to participate in the Law Moot Court?
I decided to participate in the Moot Court because I am passionate about human rights and international public law. The Moot Court class presented an opportunity to learn. Honestly, I could never have imagined that I’d end up competing when I registered for the class—but now I’m preparing to compete again with my team in the final round in Strasbourg!
How did you prepare for the competition?
Before a team is selected to compete in the regional round, there is a course on human rights where you start by practicing the written element of the Moot. From this cohort, the professors choose four out of 15-20 students to form the team that will represent IE University in the competition, based on performance in written and oral assignments.
The preparatory course is demanding—it requires time, patience, and effort—but it is definitely worth it. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed at the beginning. You have to remember it’s your first time dealing with memorandums and case-law research at a level close to that of a professional human rights lawyer. However, with time and practice, you will end up enjoying the assignments. The preparatory course also lets you meet people from both campuses and learn from the top professors.
Once the team was selected, the next stage was drafting the official written pleading that is submitted to the competition. The second phase consisted of practicing the oral pleadings, which was incredibly challenging but also a great opportunity to boost individual confidence through public speaking. I was also delighted to be selected as team captain for the IE University team, which definitely improved my leadership capabilities.
What have you learned about the competition, and what is the key to success in the Moot Court?
For me, the most important lessons I took from the experience were about teamwork, being ambitious, and following your passions. Competing with my IE University peers and professors showed me that working together as a team with resilience and enthusiasm is key to success. On reflection, I’ve also experienced the value of taking advantage of all the opportunities that arise in your life. Fundamentally, it’s important to dedicate time to what you love (both in your personal and professional life).
How does your participation in this Moot Court contribute to your future?
The participation in a Moot Court not only enhances your CV but sets you up with the skills a good lawyer needs. The key is to have a strong work ethic and to have fun while doing it.
What were the main challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
I found that the main challenges were the lack of time which meant we had to work under pressure, and also finding elements of case-law to back up your pleadings. The key to moving past these was a strong work ethic, but also ensuring we had fun while doing it. Facing challenges like these and the overall experience of participating in a Moot Court definitely enhances your CV, as well as drilling you in the skills a good lawyer needs.
Clearly, the European Moot Court Competition provides an incredibly valuable experience for undergraduate law students. As a unique opportunity to experience the inner workings of the highest human rights court in Europe, competitors develop essential skills for later practice in the field. Having gained first-hand insights into the present legal landscape, Paula and her peers from the IE University Moot Court team are now looking ahead to their traineeships at the European Court of Human Rights. IE University is confident that these students have bright futures ahead of them as they develop into dynamic and impassioned legal professionals.