Friday, November 20, 2009
The Ateneo Society of International Law
Ateneo-Red Cross IHL Moot Team
for emerging as CHAMPION and bagging the
BEST MEMORIAL and
BEST ORALIST (Michelle Suarez) awards
during the final rounds of the
2009 Red Cross International Humanitarian Law
Moot Court Competition
held at Philippine Christian University and
the Supreme Court of the Philippines
on November 20, 2009.
The Team will represent the PHILIPPINES in the
8th Red Cross International Humanitarian Law
Moot Court Competition
in Hong Kong on March 2010.
Team MembersJose Lorenzo Sereno (2B)
Iniego Carl Varon (2A)
Christine Abu (3A)
Michelle Suarez (3B)
Timothy John Batan
Jose Victornino Salud
Your ASIL family is proud of you :)
One Team. One Dream.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The 2008 Asia Cup International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition
The Ateneo Law Team, officially representing the Philippines, won the CHAMPIONSHIP AWARD in the 2008 Asia Cup International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition held in Tokyo, Japan, from 26 August to 02 September, 2008, as well as garnering the OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT MEMORIAL AWARD. It is now the third time that the Ateneo Law Team has won the Asia Cup. The members of 2008 ALS Asia Cup Team are as follows:
Mr. Dranyl Jared Amoroso (3A) - Team Captain
Ms. Esther Claudine Lim (3C)
Ms. Maria Tara Mercado (3B)
Mr. Alpheus Villaluz (3A)
Ms. Carmeline Viniegra (3A)
Coach: Atty. Cecille Mejia
When the members of the team formally turned-over to me the trophy and the certificates last 03 September (Wednesday), some of them had just arrived the night before from Tokyo, and had to get out from classes, just to make the occasion. I distinctly remember remarking to them that they have by their successful Tokyo competition, undergone a truly extraordinary experience that will shape them in their legal careers, and by-the-way congratulations, but now back to their J.D. courses and hope they don’t get called for recitation! No cigars, no champagne? Fine way to treat a Champion Team! I did have a photo taken with the group for posterity. I distinctly recall that when the Ateneo Law Team won the World Championship in the Jessup Cup in 2004, a testimonial dinner was held in their honor, hosted by Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. Why do we seem treat as ordinary in Law School that which is truly extraordinary? Perhaps, it is because we are awed at the achievements of the Ateneo Law students, that we try hard to re-direct their focus back to the harsh reality of the J.D. curriculum.
The Ateneo Law Team came to the Tokyo competitions with all eyes on them, for in the previous year, it was the UP College of Law Team that won the championship award (I understand that UP College of Law has also won the Asia Cup three times). The competition was tough, and the representatives from all over Asia were of the highest caliber. Contrary to my generation’s perception that many Asian speak poor English, I was told that the Vietnamese and the Thai teams spoke excellent English, and of course also the ever-competitive Singapore team. Whatever edge we Filipinos thought we had in English proficiency in Asia, has nearly vanished among the younger generations of Asians. And yet there is something special about the Filipino competitor; and yes, there is something special going on when it comes to Ateneo Law mooters.
Firstly, it is that we come-up almost like clockwork with the most excellent memorials, not only in the Asian region, but now confirmed in the world competitions that include teams from the United States, Great Britain, Australia and Singapore. The secret to why we are able to prepare and submit the best memorials is covered in Part I of this article, which recently has been proven beyond doubt by the Evans and Baxter Awards the Ateneo Law Team garnered in the 2008 Jessup Tournament.
Secondly, when our mooters argue, they do so from depths of their souls—they carry no notes or materials when they argue before their panels—a feat much admired by their competitors. This is NOT the norm, even for teams whose first language is English; and not even for foreign teams who are given special time off (several weeks if not a whole month) to prepare exclusively for the competitions. My own observation on the matter is that the Ateneo eloquence and style of mooting is borne out a sense to achieve a norm of excellence—to be extraordinary in a world setting—in spite of starting off from a position of privation.
To illustrate, when the Ateneo Law Team is constituted after the round-offs in September, they prepare for the Philippine Regionals held in February of the following year on the sole basis that they would win that stage and represent the Philippines in Washington D.C. by the following March. In other words, no Ateneo Law Team ever thinks of participating in the national elimination rounds except with the resolve that they would compete for the championship in the World Competition in D.C. This is not just a dream, a hope or a desire; it is the central component of the team’s commitment and strategy, simply because there is no time from February to March to then prepare for the world competitions. Consequently, in whatever international mooting competition that is to be participated in, the Ateneo Law Team prepares and drafts of its memorial for the national eliminations only at standards the compete on international level—as though they were already competing in the world championship finals. Why such a fanatical commitment?
The Ateneo Law Team has no choice, because it works under such dire privation (e.g., lack of all-out support or “subsidy” from Law School Administration) that they have to operate under extraordinarily demanding circumstances. Unlike most other international teams who are given special time-off from classes and other curricular activities when they prepare for a world competition, we in the Ateneo Law School, always stress that the primary obligation of every Ateneo Law student, and for which their parents spent for their matriculation, is to devote their time and resources towards mastering their lessons in their J.D. courses. The Law School Faculty and Administration believe in the absolute good and advantage that the J.D. curriculum does in the training and transformation of the Ateneo Law students into becoming great lawyers and legal advocates. Nothing in the academic life of an Ateneo Law student should come ahead of his or her individual responsibility to the J.D. curriculum.
In essence, therefore, we have not taken the description “extra-curricular” from mooting activities. Participating in extra-curricular activities, including mooting activities, should only be pursued by Law students who feel that they can cope well with their J.D. studies; and they do extra-curricular work because they genuinely believe in the innate goodness and personal well-being that it would bring them.
Every Ateneo mooter therefore must personally believe in the “mooting cause,” for he or she is asked to pay a high individual price for being part of the team. But since every Ateneo Law student believes in the primary value of the J.D. program (no choice, for the mortality rate of those who cannot cope with the work is high and merciless), he or she as an individual, and the team collectively, must use every spare moment devoted for mooting to be of the “highest profitable return;” otherwise, they bring ignominy not only to themselves, but also to the Law School which they love. Every Ateneo mooter knows that he goes into a world stage, representing not only the Law School, but also the Filipino nation; and therefore it is nothing short of national pride—an act of patriotism—by which he or she must excel in that international stage.
Every team that is constituted for a particular competition always goes through well thought-out and experience-tested routine to ensure that nothing is left to chance, which includes doing a preliminary team evaluation of the problem and the materials given; evaluation and re-evaluation of the issues and questions that could be raised during the competition, excellent research, and the drafting and redrafting of the memorials. The 2008 ALS Asia Cup Team told me that there was not a single issue or question that was raised during the Tokyo competitions that they had not anticipated, considered and researched upon during their preparations in the Law School. It is the thoroughness of their preparation that allows the Ateneo Law Team to argue without notes, to argue from the core of his or her being. They also informed me (hopefully not tongue in cheek) that they have experienced tougher questions in their J.D. classes that before any of their panels. The Ateneo Law Faculty are just intractable!
The Ateneo mooter has an extraordinary dream, not just to compete and gain the goodwill of fellow competitors from all over the world, but something more magnificent and obsessive than that—to win the gold in an Olympic-like event. Yet he or she must work under such extraordinarily difficult circumstances: preparing for a world-class event while coping well with the almost maddening demands of the J.D. curriculum, itself a world class program (but that’s another story). And because every Ateneo mooter is made to reach into his or her self beyond the ordinary, to be stretched beyond everything that he or she is, eventually he or she is able to reach into his or her extraordinary being. The results over the years have been nothing short of phenomenal—the Ateneo mooter has achieved world recognition as one the best international mooter today.
So I say, “Hail to the Ateneo mooters!” You not only bring accolade to your Law School and your people, but you actually have become living testaments to the indomitable human spirit that is able to raise above the privations of this world and reach into God’s extraordinary gift for greatness. Your passion has reaped for you a personal burden—an irresistible yearning to do the extraordinary!
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The 2008 Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition
After winning the 2008 Philippine Regionals held in February 2008 in Cebu City under the auspices of the University of San Carlos Law School, beating the teams from the UP College of Law and the FEU-Dela Salle JD/MBA Program, the 2008 Ateneo Jessup Team, composed of:
Oliver P. Baclay, Jr (4A) – Team Captain
Timothy John R. Batan (3B)
Clarissa Bettina F. Faylona (1C)
Jose Victoniño L. Salud (3A)
Joyce Melcar T. Tan (3A)
Roland Glenn T. Tuazon (1A)
Coaches: Attys. Belinda Atienza and Rosalie Ramirez
went on to Washington D.C. in March 2008, reached the Quarter Final Rounds were they went up against University College of London and missed being in the Final Rounds by a hairline. (Parenthetically, except in 2006 when UP Team won the regionals, the Ateneo Jessup Team has represented the Philippines in the World Championship Rounds in the years 2003 to 2008)
In any event, to prove that it had the mettle, the Ateneo Jessup Team won the Alona Evans Award for the Best Memorial submitted during the Washington D.C. competitions. This August, it was confirmed beyond any the international superior norm of the Ateneans in the drafting of memorials and pleadings, when it was awarded the Richard R. Baxter Award World Champion Memorial Applicant, being adjudged to have submitted the best memorial during all the round-offs all over the world. The delegates, competitors and judges during the proceedings were truly awed by the memorials of the Ateneo Jessup Team, that the downloading thereof in the internet was a frenzy.
In recognition of his achievement as the highest ranking oralist of the Ateneo Jessup Team, Mr. Jose Victornino Salud was awared by the International Law Institutes with the 2008 Philip C. Jessup Scholarship Award, which includes a scholarship to a summer program at Georgetown University, which he attended during the last three weeks of July, 2008.
Team Captain Oliver P. Baclay, Jr., graduated last April, and is now taking the 2008 Bar Examinations, and I have every expectations that he will do well, and may spring another surprise in late March of next year.
For the past decade now, there has been a grudging acknowledgment by our competitors that the Ateneo Jessup Teams have consistently submitted the best memorials. And it has even been intimated that Ateneo memorials were very good because it was not the student competitors, but their professors who did the memorials. If that were true, I doubt if the memorials would have been as good as they were. In any event, Ateneo professors, who are very busy practitioners, do not have time to “waste” with memorials; they having pleadings, briefs and memoranda that they have to file with the courts over matters that affect the lives, liberty and property of their clients. No, something more—something greater—is happening with our mooting tradition in the Ateneo Law School, and it is a story worth sharing.
First and foremost, our mooting activities in the Law School are almost entirely “student organization” -led, -funded and -participated activities. The Law School’s budget for mooting activities is so miserly, that it is truly too embarrassing even to quote. Yet the whole affair from round-offs, regionals, to world championship participation run in more than a million pesos yearly (plane fare and accommodations alone are phenomenal). It is the student organizations and the winning team that actually has to go around begging for funds to cover their expenses. Yearly, the Ateneo Jessup Team is always faced with the prospect of being meeting every winning round with both ecstasy and with foreboding, knowing that after going through the grueling work of preparing for and winning the competition, they must now raise the funds necessary to get into the next critical stage. Every year brings a story of schemes, tricks and trade-offs that were done by the team members to get over the obstacle of financing their competition. Where do the students get the funding for all their mooting activities? Apart from the generous amounts given by Fr. Ben Nebres and Fr. Bernas over the years, and donations given by faculty members and former mooters who now practicing in established law firms, a great bulk of the funds is given by the parents of the student members of the competing theme. Parents are proud to have their sons and daughters compete in national and international events, representing Ateneo and the country; and often that pride gets to open and empty the parental wallets.
There are two main student organizations in the Law School that participate in the mooting activities, the Ateneo Society for International Law (ASIL), and the St. Thomas More Debating Society (STM), and the competition between the two have at times become emotional and personal. Sometime in September each year, the Office of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs oversees the run-offs every year to determine which team would represent the Law School in the Philippine Regionals, but the whole gamut of preparing for the round-offs is handled almost entirely by the student organizations. And when the team to represent the Law School is confirmed, the student organization from which the team came from provides the support preparing for the Philippine Regionals, which are held annually sometime in February of the following year. There is no Law School Unit that thereafter handles preparing the team for the Regionals, it is essentially a student-organization led and manned affair, and interest or sympathetic faculty members are sometimes asked to advise or witness practice rounds.
The Law Administration “tries” as “much” as it can to help the cause, by allowing them to use certain facilities, and exempting the members of the team from their classes, but only during the actual period of competition. Otherwise, every member of the team, and the supporting research group, are expected to carry the same academic load as every other J.D. student. After all, mooting is still classified as an “extra-curricular” activity, that cannot detract from the main responsibility of mastering the assigned lessons in the courses of the J.D. curricula. The next time the Administration and Law Faculty ever hear from the team is when it is announced that it has won the Regionals (except for Asso. Dean Sedfrey M. Candelaria who makes it a point to be there at the competition to give moral support to the Ateneo team, and praying for a win to justify the Law School reimbursing him the cost of his plane ticket and accommodations!).
On the main, it would be past mooters, who are already in the practice of law and sometimes in the Law Faculty, who are asked by the student organization and the team to coach them. I believe this is an integral part of the winning formula of every Ateneo Jessup Team; and why almost on a consistent basis the Ateneans prepare well, and submit excellent memorial, for the competition: Law student competitions are best won by teams that are trained by and led by, student leaders and their veterans, through a system of apprenticeship, or better still, a system of mentorship.
I have said in a number of Law School fora that over the last nearly two decades, under the stewardship (as opposed to “control”) of the Associate Dean Candelaria, there has evolved a system of apprenticeship or mentorship among student organizations. Whether it be the Ateneo Law Student Council, the OrSem, the Student Appeals Committee, the Registration Commission, Central BarOps, the Ateneo Law Journal, The Palladium, The Law School Choir, and certainly within both ASIL and STM, the norm is the same: that the current student leaders ensure that they have the next generation of students who would succeed the following year, and who assist and are trained by the current leaders on the policies, systems and processes that cover their areas of responsibilities, with every expectation that when the apprentice take the reins, they would train the next set of leaders.
The results over the years have been quite stunning, so to speak. The system has not only evolved a manner of instilling a sort-of “institutional memory” within each student organization, with the apprentices earning within such time an actual experiential know-how of what their future responsibilities would entail. But more importantly, seeing on a daily basis the effectiveness and sometimes the ineffectiveness of their tutors-leaders, the apprentices develop a “next-stage” ability to avoid the mistakes of the past, but to actually be able to do things better. The results is that on an annual basis, there has been an incremental “raising of the bar”; what used to be done on a difficult basis, the following year is executed with a sense of expertise; what seemed to have been done the previous year with an amateurish after-taste, now has a sense of flair and elegance.
That has been the key formula I believe for our mooting success the past years: That of volunteer students, apart from carrying on the daily load of their J.D. Program, giving extra time to prepare themselves or held their team-mates for competition, to research on very difficult and complex areas of international law, to draft and redraft their memorials, exchange ideas, ask all-imaginable questions and raise all-unthinkable issues—to go where no men and women have gone before. That of volunteer alumni, mostly immediately-past mooters, apart from carrying on the daily chores of their legal practice (and the gods-forbid, from their bar review!), giving extra time to share with the team the winning ways learned through the years, the misadventures that must be avoid, focusing on the essentials of the actual competition. And of course, sharing with the teams the fundamentals of what makes a good memorial, and the secrets and perceptions learned through the years and handed down to them by their mentors, of what makes a memorial truly excellent from an international standard. As the Ateneo J.D. Program is of international grade (that of course is another story), there can be no doubt that our mooting standards are now recognized internationally as are truly world-standards of the best magnitude.
The Ateneo Law Team, in regional and international competitions, has earned the respect that it has worked hard for many years to perfect; and it has been truly the handiwork of Law students who sacrificed much of their time and resources to build a tradition of mooting. Some of them are members of the Law Faculty now, but the acceptance of the challenge and the giving of personal sacrifice, happened at the time when they were yet Law students—we thank you for remaining passionate mooters at heart. We give kudos to the parents who have quietly in the background given their support to their sons and daughters—and thank them for having faith in the Ateneo mission of training their sons and daughters to be great lawyers.
And to each Ateneo Law student who has been, is, and shall become, a mooter, for your time here at, or for, the Ateneo Law School, is truly an extraordinary time! For no sacrifice is ever lost, no personal endeavor is ever wasted, no dream is ever unrealized, in involving yourself in Ateneo’s mooting traditions, for each of you has become an integral part is showing that the Filipino can excel in the world stage.
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The premium seal given to the Atenean legal education is proven, among other things, by the national market demand for Ateneo lawyers: we receive regular written request for referrals by leading law firm, government agencies and leading business companies, and that each hiring season, law firms request for the listing of the top twenty graduates in each batch.
In the international legal arena, the picture has not been quite rosy. Although quite a number of Atenean lawyers have gone on to work in big law firms or international agencies in the United States or in Europe, the primary basis for their employment have been the result of their taken up an Ll.M. degree in the particular jurisdiction. Our J.D. degree on its own has never figured as the primary draw for an international placement of Ateneans, much more so in ASEAN and East Asia regions, where the tradition (as it is among Filipino lawyers), that international “accreditation” is reached by obtaining a graduate degree in an American or European law school. The paradigm has began to shift.
In the past two weeks, the Law School received (perhaps for the first time in the Law School’s history) formal request for referral of Atenean lawyers for placement by a Singaporean institution and a leading Singaporean law firm, both engaged in international business or practice.
In the case of the Singaporean law firm, it had already previously recruited eight Atenean lawyers, who left their positions in leading local law firms, to take advantage of engaging in international practice based either in Singapore or in Vietnam. Last 22 May, Asso. Dean Candelaria and I had dinner with six members of that group, Attys. Aris Gulapa, Maya Pascual, Ryan Castillo, Justine Guerrero, Thel Mundin, and Mark Enojo, who shared their experience of how well they could more than attain the respect and appreciation of the partners and associates in the realm of international practice, especially on areas involving international commercial law and international public law.
As a strong guide to our current students in evolving the type of program they will pursue in attaining their J.D. degree, it must be noted that the group shared common denominators: they were active members of moot court and international societies in Law School, they joined international moot court competitions, they concentrated on international law in their elective courses and in doing their theses. Let me quote from the e-mail invitation of Atty. Aris Gulapa for that dinner: “As you may be aware, we are now eight Filipino lawyers in [the Singaporean law firm] and all of us are Ateneans (to CLV’s delight perhaps!) . . . We are all proud to say that our Ateneo education was enough to convince the firm to accept all of us (vis-à-vis the usual route of studying in the US and then passing the New York bar first).” So impressed was the partners of the Singaporean law firm with the “commercial and international law” quality of Filipino recruits, that it insisted on recruiting only Atenean lawyers for its litigation and patent positions (“young litigation lawyers who have two to three years of experience specifically in shipping, construction and commercial arbitration.”)
Atenean lawyers will do very well in the international legal and business arenas because excellence in performance are the traits learned and imbibed during the four-years of Ateneo legal education. Thanks to the inroads made in the region by our pioneering graduates, Filipino lawyers are beginning to build a reputation of being well-disposed into international practice in the ASEAN and East Asian regions, because of the savvy they display in articulating in the international language of business (and of law), which is English, and of having been educated and trained in a jurisdiction where the two great legal systems, civil law and common law, come into play.