The ‘Legal Ladies’ of the University of Tartu

At the University of Tartu, the law continues to be one of the fundamental pillars of the establishment, turning out many of the greatest legal minds in Europe. Students fight hard through papers, exams and internships to prove themselves as capable lawyers, but it’s not just academics which can help to dictate success while studying law.

Hannah, Helery, and Maarja are three women that you would definitely want on your side in any debate.

The road to becoming a lawyer is not often a path which can simply be walked straight. It is usually filled with many ups and downs, twists and turns, obstacles and even sometimes cracks, which can force students to either jump forward, or stop and turn back. How you walk your path, and if you will succeed in reaching the end, can largely depend on who walks it with you.

Coming from Canada to Estonia to study law has been a whirlwind. Moving across the world to start studies in an entirely new country and academic field it has been a journey filled with new challenges at each turn. Since starting my studies this year, I have found two amazing pillars of support through my colleagues from the University of Tartu’s ‘Jessup’ moot court team. My teammates Helery and Maarja have challenged me to think in new legally way, helped me to develop my skills in oral debate, and have become wonderful friends. Meeting almost weekly since October, these incredibly intelligent and talented ladies have been such amazing legal mentors to me and phenomenal teammates. Our diverse backgrounds and academic experiences which have allowed us to succeed in our efforts as a moot court team and will now allow us to go on to compete internationally at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court competition in the United States this April.

So, you may be wondering, what exactly is ‘Jessup’?

‘Jessup’ is the largest international law moot court in the world, with participants from over 645 law schools in 95 countries. Prior to the start of the competition, teams are given a case dealing with a wide variety of contested issues of international law, which they must then defend from the point of view of both applicant and respondent. This two-sided debate process is challenging, as teams must develop strong legal argumentation for both sides of each matter. Whether it be considering states right to use force or the right of states to freedom and navigation in the sea, mooting gives teams the opportunity to provide detailed analysis from both sides of the debate.

The Jessup competition has three main parts:

First, teams must research and write written memorials, which serve as your written defence of the case. Second, teams must participate in their states national round of competition, as aside from a select few counties, each is only allowed to send one team on their behalf. Third, the winner from the national rounds of competition will move on to compete on the world stage, the international rounds in Washington D.C. Winning the national rounds earlier this month is an accomplishment which our team worked incredibly hard for, and we are very proud to now have the opportunity to represent Estonia and the University of Tartu at the international rounds.

As an international student, I would have never dreamt that I would have such an amazing opportunity to represent Estonia at an international competition, and I am so proud to be doing so along with these amazing ladies. Though our time together competing for Jessup will only continue on for the next few months, we will walk away from this experience as better lawyers, lifelong colleagues and good friends to walk the path towards graduation with together.

This article was written for the UT Blog Competition by Hannah Swabey on her time as part of the University of Tartu Jessup Team.

* If you are interested in following our progress or would like to know more about how to participate in the University of Tartu’s Jessup team in the future, please follow us on Facebook at


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