On 6-7 September 2018 at its conference headquarters in Trier, ERA ran the first edition of its Young Lawyers Contest in cooperation with the CCBE.

The main aim of the competition is to bring together future lawyers from different European countries at a time when they are undergoing entry level training to enable them to share common values and to exchange new experiences and discuss new perspectives in areas of common interest.

The Project beneficiaries are trainee and newly qualified lawyers from Bars belonging to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe. 20 contestants from 10 nationalities nominated by their local or national Bars took part in the first contest. The Bars participating to this project were the following: Dutch Brussels Bar, Ordine degli Avvocati di Lucca, Bucharest Bar, Hanseatische Rechtsanwaltskammer Hamburg, Rechtsanwaltskammer Hamm, Ecole des Avocats Centre Sud, Grand Est, and Warsaw Bar Association.

To enhance the transnational character of the contest, contestants were divided into six teams composed of three or four nominees from different Member States with different legal traditions.

The format of the trial run was two half days with three rounds – three parallel quarter finals, semi-finals and a final round with the two best remaining teams. At each level, a different task has been mastered, which took the form of a written report on a legal question of EU business law (free movement of company law and copyright law in the Digital Single Market) followed by an oral debate on it, a negotiating exercise on company law, and a moot court exercise based on a real judgment from the General Court before the Jury.

The very committed Jury, which was also involved in the preparation of the exercises, was composed of five eminent members of the legal profession: Sir Nicholas Forwood QC, former Judge at the General Court of the European Union; Ms Margarete Gräfin von Galen, CCBE Third Vice-President; Ms Vanessa Knapp OBE, Independent Consultant, former Chair of the Company Law Committee of the CCBE and Member of ERA’s Board of Trustees; Mr Ranko Pelicarić, CCBE Second Vice-President; and Professor Alain Steichen, Founding Partner at Bonn Steichen & Partners in Luxembourg.

Throughout the contest, participants showed a lot of enthusiasm, commitment and motivation. Working in teams composed of different nationalities with diverse legal backgrounds was one of the big challenges of this contest in which they all succeeded. This experience enabled them to exchange ideas, to foster relationships among themselves, and to share knowledge on national and European law.

As each team displayed excellent abilities in critical thinking and communication skills, the deliberation of the Jury on the remaining two teams for the Moot Court exercise was not an easy task.

The two winning teams selected for the Moot Court exercise were Team 2 named Christopher Columbus and composed of young lawyers from Belgium (Stéphane de Schutter), Croatia (Dino Gliha), Germany (Lena Haffner) and Iceland (Guðrún Olsen), and the winner of the contest was Team 6 Vasco da Gama, composed of lawyers from France (Vincent Berthier-De Bortoli), Finland (Ella Hiltunen) and Romania (Livia Dianu-Buja).