When ACU’s Thomas More Law School (TMLS) was established in 2013 one of its key aims was to ensure students had a unique experience and that the development of practical legal skills was firmly embedded into the curriculum.
The school’s mooting program has certainly achieved these goals and the team responsible for establishing it has this year been recognised with a Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award for Excellence in Student Experience.
Dr Brianna Chesser, Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven and Mr Graham Thomas QC.
Award recipient Dr Brianna Chesser explained that mooting is essentially a mock trial.
“To be successful at mooting students need to have not only the theoretical knowledge, but also the skills to put it all together and respond to questions from the bench and the arguments of their colleagues,” Dr Chesser said.
"They not only need to be confident in the law, but also confident in themselves.”
The TMLS Mooting Program has been so successful that this year a TMLS team ranked eighth out of 345 teams at the VIS International Arbitration Moot, which is considered the world’s peak mooting competition.
It was the first time TMLS had competed at the event, which saw ACU become the highest ranked Catholic university in the world and the highest ranked Australian university.
Dr Chesser said the program’s success had grown from a five-year strategic plan that embedded practical legal skills throughout the curriculum and guided the development of extra-curricular mooting activities.
She also put the success down to effective collaboration between TMLS staff and students, the support of the Office of Student Success, and the help of legal professionals who had given up their time to coach and train students.
Dr Chesser particularly recognised the contribution of Graham Thomas QC, who works as a casual academic within the law school and is the Legal Professional Mentor for students.
Mr Thomas worked to develop the school’s extra-curricular mooting activities and played a key role in inviting legal professionals to coach the students.
“While my name may be on the award, it really recognises everyone who had a hand in the program, including the students, the legal professionals and Graham in particular,” Dr Chesser said.
"It’s been a whole law school initiative to get to this point.”
Dr Chesser said mooting was a vital legal skill and she expected the program would continue to grow.
“Because we’ve introduced this culture of mooting the senior students are now mentoring the junior students,” Dr Chesser said.
“This positive culture means students not only want to try mooting internally but also want to enter external competition and develop their skills.”
Dr Chesser said the mooting program embodied what ACU’s law school is all about.
“Our motto is Global, Ethical and Practical and we strive towards creating opportunities for our students to become the global legal practitioners we want them to be.”