Mooting: the art of verbal war
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If you're the quiet, introverted type, you're all too familiar with the feelings of apprehension about speaking in front of an audience – thus, naturally, mooting is probably the last thing on your mind. However, the nervousness associated with standing up in front of revered members of the legal profession is outweighed by what can be gained in doing so. Many would encourage law students to give mooting a whirl because it is a fun – albeit demanding – experience, which can help to develop an essential skill set necessary for a successful legal career.
“Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” To prepare yourself for a moot you will need to:
- research the topic and particular issues;
- develop coherent arguments around the facts in the problem; and
- present a skeleton argument and a court bundle, with necessary information.
Even if the moot is on a subject that you have studied before, research it afresh, revisit relevant statutes, re-read key cases and include professional or academic publications. Whatever you do, ensure that you start early so you have sufficient time to develop and research your oral submissions in good time.
Law students usually partake in mooting alongside their studies or extracurricular activities. You have limited time to prepare and present so you need to stay on top of everything – the last thing you want to do is rush your bundle or draft arguments the night before. Even if mooting doesn't clash with your university timetable, you must leave time for thorough preparation, legal research, meeting team members and planning and rehearsing your opening statements. A good lawyer knows how to manage their workload even under tight timescales and significant pressure.
Not everyone is born with a golden tongue like Harvey Specter, but mooting, if done correctly, can transform you into an eloquent speaker. Having the opportunity to stand up in front of practising judges and barristers – and get feedback afterwards – is an experience that prepares you for the Bar and the legal profession more broadly. You will develop the ability to think on your feet, as you justify and defend your argument. Many moot judges will challenge your submissions, which will help you to think under pressure and learn to adapt your arguments to suit your audience. During university, mooting sharpened my presentation, legal research and analytical skills and taking part in internal competitions increased my confidence.
A wise man once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”. There is a sense of camaraderie that always springs up in mooting, as you and your teammates will need to work together. Such mooting activities include developing skills in effective and constructive teamwork, discussing ideas, developing complementary or alternative submissions and even swapping skeleton arguments with your opponents. Showing respect when listening or responding to another point of view and developing a mutual understanding is also good comradeship.
Besides instilling confidence and critical thinking, mooting also encourages sartorial appropriateness, the perfect opportunity to channel your inner Harvey Specter or Rachel Zane! In a moot court, the dress code is formal and you are expected to dress smartly – as you would in a court of law. It is important to look the part but most importantly make a good first impression on the judge – they may disapprove of flashy jewellery or those snazzy trainers of yours! Just to be safe, try to avoid bright colours or inappropriate clothing as it may distract the judge or detract from the persuasiveness of your arguments.
Here are ten top tips from LCN on how to become a champion mooter!