On a side note at meta-level, this method of conduct has really proven to be one of the merits of a self-steering team to us. It is an extra challenge to talk through our strategies in terms of contributions. It gives a lot of satisfaction to make those decisions unanimously, with everyone satisfied with the outcome. Above that, it also helps towards the goal of bonding and strengthening the team.
To be more specific: the definitive teams consisted of A. Brent and David and B. Maarten and Ewout. The former takes up the role of client, the latter of each duo acts as counsel. Shani and Arto took up the challenge as a coach from now on and we could not be in better hands.
The original schedule we received from the ICC was as follows: On Friday, the 8th of February, we would respectively be competing against the Fundaçao Getulio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro at 8 a.m. and the University Law Center, Georgetown at 5 p.m. On Sunday, the 10th of February, we were up against the College of Law and Business, Ramat-Gan at 8 a.m. and the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam at 5 p.m.
However, few days before departure, we received notice that due to another team (aside from the ones we had to compete against) not being able to attend, we would have to take up a fifth case on Friday Morning. In full preparation mode, Brent and David had to take on an extra challenge!
The last three days before departure, we gathered in Leuven for joint preparations and mock cases. Our coaches prepared some ‘imaginary’ confidential information for the counterparty in order to be able to practice them against one another. This way, we could anticipate and train some situations that were quite likely to occur.
We also had help from some of our alumni. Nicolas Geerardyn helped us preparing by giving some final tips of his own experience last year. Above that, he also found some time available to step into a mock mediation as an occasional mediator. It turned out to be a very fruitful session and the perfect final rehearsal for Paris!
After months of preparing and counting down the days, on Wednesday, February 6th, it was finally time for our trip to the ICC headquarters in Paris. As the competition would only start the next day, we had some spare time to unpack and to explore the hotel as well as the neighborhood. We worked out the last imperfections to the opening statements and made some slight improvements to certain aspects of our tactics. Above that, we also took some extra time in order to fully inform and prepare Brent and David about the ingenuine elements of their now third case.
From Friday to Sunday we were really in a mediation rapture and survived on the adrenaline from going from the one case to the next. Is was extremely thrilling to meet so many people who were eager to engage. Everyone was in the same mediation-mindset. Above that, they wanted to help everyone to push their limits. In that regard, the non-stop incentives, stimuli and feedback on how we could step up our game were eye-opening and game-changing.
Unfortunately, we did not get through to the final rounds. The other side of the coin of such a high-level competition, is that the opposition is extremely though. We did watch the final rounds and we were sometimes baffled to see the level of some other teams.
We are very grateful to all mediators and judges who were present and ready to give us exactly that feedback and tips we needed. We also want to thank the organization. It is a feat for a project to successfully land, when it has more than 66 universities involved worldwide and a total of more than 600 participating. We have learned a lot and take this wonderful experience with us to all our members – and to prepare an even better team for next year!