‘What Brought Me to Law Was My Love of History’
2020 has become a year of research for Yaroslava Mavlyutova, third-year law student at HSE in Nizhny Novgorod, including participation in five research competitions, prize-winning places and ambitious international tasks. HSE New Service talked to Yaroslava about research curiosity, bravery and mentorship – the three pillars of her desire to succeed.
In 2020, Yaroslava Mavlyutova gathered and led a team of HSE Nizhny Novgorod students in the Philip Jessup Competition, the world's biggest student moot court, which attracts students from more than 100 countries annually. The team from the HSE University Nizhny Novgorod campus participated in the Jessup Competition from 2005 to 2015, finishing among the Top 5 in the Russian round, and in 2009 it won the national round and represented Russia at the international rounds in Washington, D.C.
In 2021, the Russian national championship is not taking place, and teams from world’s leading law universities will meet in the draw procedure before the global rounds. Thanks to Yaroslava, HSE Nizhny Novgorod team registered for participation in autumn 2020 and after a long break, has an opportunity to represent Russia in this prestigious competition once again.
Photo courtesy of Yaroslava Mavlyutova
How did you assemble the team? What qualities should the participants have, in your opinion?
The competition is held in English and is a moot trial at the International UN Court of Justice, in which the participants defend the legal positions of the two parties of the moot lawsuit. That’s why a good command of English is essential, in order to speak confidently and engagingly, and second, you have to be prepared to work hard. The team consists of five people: Guzel Shigapova, Anastasia Mikhailova, Kristina Korb, Anastasia Shchekochikhina, and myself. I have worked together with two of them – Anastasia Shchekochikhina and Kristina Korb – at the Russian National Constitutional Justice Competition ‘Crystal Themis’, and I know for sure that they are responsible students and I can rely on them.
How do you prepare for the competition rounds? Who coaches your team?
During my second year of studies, I started looking for a coach. When I volunteered for the 2020 Philip Jessup Competition,, Agnes Rydberg agreed to help us: she is a young doctoral student from Sweden, who teaches at Mary Queen University in London. In spring, our team started to prepare for the competition, and in May 2020, we started our training sessions with Agnes.
What is the most difficult part of the preparation for you?
It is difficult to combine all the things you have to do: to study, to write your study papers, to participate in various academic competitions and Olympiads. Some of the team members are already employed, but at the same time, we need to read the literature and prepare competition papers with the legal positions of the moot court parties.
For you personally, 2020 has become a year of research. Why?
I want to apply for a master’s programme and know that results of research are taken into account in the admissions process. I’ve been lucky to find a brilliant supervisor – Natalia Shitova, Senior Lecturer at our campus’s Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law. All my academic papers have been supervised by her, and it is her to whom I owe all my achievements.
Our cooperation started from the Crystal Themis competition. I asked Prof. Shitova to become our coach. 16 out of 35 teams made it to the finals, and we came 17th. We fell short by several tenths of a point and didn’t proceed to the oral rounds, but it was our first participation in such competitions and a valuable experience. We learned to balance our roles and resources, and to work in a team.
At the beginning of my second year of studies, I found a competition for young researchers’ papers. It was the 4th international best research paper competition ‘Eurasian Integration: Youth Dimension’, organized by St. Petersburg State University of Economics with the support of the Eurasian Economic Commission, St. Petersburg Committee for Foreign Relations, and the RAS Institute of Economic Forecasting. The competition has a very good reputation, nad last year it took place in several stages between February and November, 2020.
I asked Prof. Shitova to help me prepare for it. When I started, I didn’t know what the research process looked like. We started working together on the structure and logics of my future paper. As a result of our joint effort, we wrote a paper ‘Potential use of the EU experience in building the Eurasian economic integration (implementing successful solutions and risk management)’, which was submitted to the competition. Our paper took third place, and we also got an honorary title of competition laureates.
Photo courtesy of Yaroslava Mavlyutova
At the same time as participating in the St. Petersburg State University of Economics competition, I wrote a student paper for the international competition ‘International law, foreign economic activities and cross-border dispute settlement: transformation and digitalization period’, which was organized by the International Law Department, Faculty of Law, South Federal University. My paper ‘Cross-border execution of foreign court judgement and international arbitration resolutions: traditions and innovations. The Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters vs. the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York, 10 June 1958)’, which was also carried out under Natalia Shitova’s supervision, took second place.
In November 2020, the 7th Law Student Forum ‘Transformation of Law in the 21st Century: Challenges and Prospects’ took place in Moscow. At the Forum, I presented a paper ‘Implementing international justice via state and tertiary judgement during the pandemic’, in the category ‘International justice and international commercial arbitration during the pandemic’ and took first place.
Meanwhile my biggest and most complicated study was the paper that I, together with Prof. Shitova, prepared for the 2020 Student Research Paper Competition held by HSE University. At first, I focused on a very broad topic, and Prof. Shitova showed me how to narrow it down, and focus on a research problem that is particularly pressing today. I spent my pandemic summer gathering different court practice cases.
My topic was ‘The right of migrant workers’ children for education: prospects for using the European Union’s experience in the context of EAEU’s development’, so I had to thoroughly study court judgement databases of constitutional courts in different countries, as well as international court institutions. In my search, I found out that not only the practical applicability of the topic makes it relevant, but also its underdevelopment in research and practice. Our analysis of the vast judicial practice (over 100 court judgements on the topic) allowed us to determine the most important aspects of migrant workers’ children’s right for education and to structure the logic of our research.
I had to identify the elements that constitute the right for education and the specifics of this right’s execution for migrant workers’ children. I had the ambitious goal of conducting a comparative legal analysis. At the end of the day, I aimed to outline some complications of the implementation of this right that exist in EAEU, as well as suggesting recommendations on how to overcome or prevent them, based on the EU’s experience. Honestly, it wasn’t easy. One day, I opened my paper after Prof. Shitova’s had been editing it, and it had about 1,000 changes. As a result, our paper ‘The right of migrant workers’ children for education: prospects for using the European Union’s experience in the context of EAEU’s development’ won second place in the Student Research Paper Competition.
The Student Research Paper Competition results are very important for me, since they offer benefits in the master’s admissions process. I’m very grateful for this experience, since today, I write my research papers more consciously and can carry out real academic research. I believe that after the competition, I’ll be more confident in carrying out research for other competitions, since it is a very important academic experience. I’m very curious about everything, and I’m very lucky because Prof. Shitova supports all my initiatives. Her support doesn’t mean she agrees with everything I do, but she gives me useful advice, and corrects and guides the development of my ideas. I believe these are the main features of a talented mentor.
You came to study at HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod from Murmansk. Why did you choose law? And why Nizhny Novgorod?
I spent a year before university admission studying at a Russian-Norwegian school: it was a special project between Murmansk and Tromsø, a small town in the north of Norway. In that school we had an outstanding history teacher. When she talked about historic events, she always taught us to find the cause-and-effect relationship. Today, I find this skill very helpful in my comparative legal studies. I can say that what brought me to law was my love of history.
Before applying, I carefully considered several universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, talking to students and graduates of these universities in social media, and from their feedback, I realized that the Faculty of Law at HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod was the place where I really wanted to study.
Photo courtesy of Yaroslava Mavlyutova
What profession are you going to pursue in the future?
It’s important for me that my work is not only financially rewarding, but also socially useful. That’s why I want to find a field of law that gives me the opportunity to become a high-level professional and help people at the same time.