The beginner's guide to mooting
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Your voice is the tool of your trade – use it wisely.
What is mooting?
It goes without saying that mooting is a significant part of any law degree. A ‘moot’ is a fictitious case which is being appealed. The appeal is based on the points of law that you must consider, argue and present. You will be assigned a side by the moot organiser, which means that you could be either the appellant or the respondent. After deciding with your team member who will take the senior and junior roles in your team, you are expected to:
- conduct legal research;
- write a skeleton argument; and
- prepare your submissions.
How should you prepare?
Mooting isn’t like debating. You must always be polite and respectful to both the judge and your opponent, much like in an actual trial. If you disagree at any time, you must say that you "respectfully submit" (avoid speaking in the first person)! When the judge walks in at the beginning of the moot, you should stand and bow and refrain from sitting back down until they have taken their seat. The same is done in reverse as the judge leaves. Using the correct language in a moot court is paramount to success; you must always refer to the judge as “my lord” or “my lady” or “your lord” or “your ladyship” (instead of “you”). 'Submission' means your arguments, a 'ground of appeal' is the basic legal point that you are arguing, 'my learned junior/senior' is how you refer to your teammate and 'my learned friend' is how you refer to your opponent.
To prepare for a moot, you will need to:
- research the topic and issues surrounding it (this will usually be a contentious area of law);
- develop sound, written and oral arguments around the factual scenario;
- present a written submission outlining your skeleton argument; and
- create a court bundle of the authorities on which you will rely.
Your skeleton argument will have four main parts:
- a heading;
- an introduction;
- main submissions; and
- a request of what you would like the court to allow or dismiss (depending on your side).
Moot court is such a useful tool for aspiring lawyers that most universities make it compulsory on the LLB. Mooting is useful for developing not only legal and interpretation skills, but also personal skills of argument and public speaking. Also, to put it in layperson's terms, mooting is good fun! As a law student, nothing will bring you more satisfaction than nailing a crucial point in front of a judge or defeating your opponent's arguments with irrefutable authority.
There are other obvious benefits of entering into moot competitions (besides the hefty chunk of prize money), such as networking opportunities, enhancing your CV and, in the long run, improving your employability. Mooting is a great opportunity to make important contacts – both with other student mooters and the judges (generally played by barristers, solicitors or law academics). It may also enable you to shadow in court and bag a mini-pupillage. Ultimately, participating in mooting will undoubtedly influence your growth academically and professionally, and the benefits should not be overlooked.