updated on 21 November 2023
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It was one crisp January morning that I decided I needed to sit down with a cup of coffee and hammer out our Student Law Society Awards entry. A mere 10,076 words, and far more than one cup of coffee, later I submitted our dissertation of an entry and was left with the deepest sense of pride in my committee and everything they’ve achieved this year.
The King’s College London Bar & Mooting Society (KCLBMS) was nominated for four awards this year and we finished the evening with the trophies for Best society for aspiring barristers and Best society for mooting. If we’re working on normative determinism alone: mission accomplished!
I first joined KCLBMS in the mad pandemic days of 2020, which treated my flatmates to the sight of me suit and tie from the waist up, fluffy pyjama trousers and slippers from the waist down, running to the kitchen between heats to make cups of tea. I occasionally wake up in a cold sweat remembering how my first moot went: alone in my room earnestly telling a confused, but sympathetic, tutor that my opponent was definitely guilty of not failing to make a mistake in his contract. Three years later I still can’t make sense of what my argument was supposed to be.
What made me stick with KCLBMS was the collection of like-minded people it manages to cultivate. More than half of our activities every year are moot competitions, where I try my hardest to show how my opponents are incorrect about the law and listen to them returning the favour. Despite that, I’ve never left a competition with anything but friendly admiration for those who beat me and a sense of community with those who spend their time interested in the skill of making arguments and thinking deeply about the law.
Leaving that impression in the minds of our members is what makes KCLBMS such a strong society for mooting and is something we work our hardest to grow throughout the year. We spend months focusing on our novice mooters. Our mooting team run workshops on all elements of mooting, from what’s going on in a moot court to useful features of Westlaw to that printer in the Law School basement that doesn’t charge you credits to print your bundles. It’s important to foster a spirit of learning from your fellow students just as much as any external trainer or lawyer judge. The first rounds of our novice moot are held before older student judges, and we run non-competitive mini moots simply to ease our beginners into standing up and making a legal argument. This doesn’t mean that this competition isn’t a serious one; however, the final is always judged by barristers, who are given instructions not to hold back in their interventions.
A particular focus of our work is giving our members pathways to expand their skills and have a successful mooting career aided by the society. We manage to span the full breadth of King’s student population, from absolute beginner competitions to our Graveson Cup, which required both witness handling and mooting advocacy and is presided over by current members of the judiciary and leading silks. It was always important to me that we send teams to every single national competition we come across and give these opportunities to as broad a range of members as possible. An innervation I promoted was internal competitions with problems adapted from past Jessup, Vis, and Laches problems. This enabled our members to practise these areas of law before joining the King’s teams to compete internationally.
Mooting is a necessary activity for any student wishing to go to the Bar, but it isn’t the totality of what’s required. This is where the ‘Bar’ part of our names kicks in and where the work for the Best society for aspiring barristers begins. Having such a large events team greatly benefits the society – we have such a broad variety of connections and experiences to draw our speakers from. Every year we give the team free reign on the sorts of events they want to hold, which connects our calendar directly with the wants of the student body. It means we hold events on traditional practice areas, like crime and chancery, but also give students the chance to hear from barristers about what it’s like to work in media and sports law, family, intellectual property or technology law.
The Bar can be a world unto itself at times, which can be scary for students to assimilate into. This is particularly the case for students from backgrounds not traditionally represented at the Bar, which is why we have a dedicated outreach team. We prioritise students forming contacts at the Bar and gaining familiarity with the legal world. The key pillars of this are our mentorship scheme and judicial marshalling scheme. We were able to give our members one-to-one barrister mentors tailored to their specific fields of interests and needs. Through the generosity of the teams at Woolwich Crown Court and Taylor House Tribunal Hearing Centre we were privileged enough to be able to send students to shadow the judges there. I’d especially like to thank the Chancery Bar Association, whose funding allows us to provide a number of free memberships to those students who otherwise would be unable to afford to join the society.
Drawing this article to an end, nothing could’ve prepared me for how much the King’s College London Bar and Mooting Society has given to my time as a student and my aspirations for my career. It’s been the source of the happiest memories, best of friends, most crushing of defeats, and the strongest feeling of community I’ve had at university. There are simply too many people who’ve given their skills and resources and time to the society to name them all, but I hope they all know the enormity of my appreciation to them. I’d also like to thank Bethany, Niamh and everybody else at LawCareers.Net for their fantastic student resources, which we rely on throughout the year and who make these awards happen every year. They’re such a wonderful chance to reflect on the work of the society and everybody involved with it.
Barney Potts is the president of the King’s College London Bar & Mooting Society and an aspiring barrister. You can find out more about the society on its site.