“I didn’t feel vulnerable because I was prepared: I knew the law and I was ready to discuss and defend my position.”
Holding her argument briefs tightly in her arms, Natalia Kokesova proceeded to the lectern before the three-judge panel. With her head held high, she looked directly in the judge’s eyes as she argued her case with confidence.
Natalia and her classmates in “Advanced Legal Writing and Research” participated in a Moot Court organized by AAU’s School of Law on November 1. The class is taught by James Heller, who is himself a lawyer specializing in intellectual property, information technology, legal research and writing.
Natalia was arguing for the rights of EU citizens currently residing in the UK to continue residing in the UK, post-Brexit: A very topical case related to current world events.
The moot was tense. Scott Prange, who took on the role of President of the Supreme Court, questioned Natalia over whether the UK is still bound by EU treaties and directives. Further, if yes then when, how and for how long the UK will still be bound by EU treaties and directives, considering that Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon had been triggered?
“Natalia’s argument was very strong,” said Mr. Heller. “She responded tactfully and articulately. Despite the fact Scott tied her up, somewhat, with this questioning, it is possible that Natalia’s argument would still have been a winning argument, depending on how the three judge panel would have voted (considering both Natalia’s written brief and oral arguments).”
Natalia said the Moot Court did what it was supposed to do: resemble a real-life court proceeding. “It is their role to scrutinize your work,” she said. The judges are tasked with asking a range of questions because their decisions may change laws that would affect a large portion of the public. The goal is to find out whether a legal position is right or wrong.
“Furthermore, the constant questioning and debating only improves a law students advocating skills and prepares him or her for real-life proceedings,” Natalia added. “This was a useful experience.”
During the Moot Court, whenever a student argued his/her case, everyone else paid close attention and listened critically. Natalia said her classmates’ presence boosted her confidence. She, in return, would sit and listen to their argumentation later to show support and learn about their cases.
Natalia is a second-year law student at AAU. Coming from a civil law jurisdiction, Natalia finds common law fascinating and new. Despite the demanding program, she enjoys learning about its structure and principles.
The completion of Natalie’s program of study at AAU/University of London will allow her to meet the academic requirements to become a solicitor or barrister in several common law jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Canada, some states in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. In fact, one AAU alumna named Ido Mashinsky even had his law degree recognized by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, a prerequisite to admission to the Israeli Bar.
When asked about her future steps, Natalia laughed, “I am not sure what my plans are yet. I am focused on finishing this academic year with proper grades. But going to the UK to get qualified and become a solicitor or barrister is always an option.”