As a first year student, the word “mooting” is alien and daunting. Therefore the best way to understand and appreciate what is going to be a key aspect of our legal career, is to attend workshops and events.
City held a mooting workshop on the 7th November ‘Mooting: The secrets revealed’ featuring Andy Campbell and Rupert Wilson, two of the City Law School’s alumni (GDL/BPTC). It proved to be not only a good way to identify with the characteristics required of a top mooter, but also a way to seek advice from people who shared, not long ago, the same fears. Every student asks himself “why do mooting when it is so scary?” or “how can I prepare?”: both of these questions were answered with the notion that building a confident and strong character is excellent grounding for being a respected advocate. Nevertheless, having debating experiences which extend to a more competitive area is an outstanding way to make you stand out on applications.
Andy and Rupert divided the workshops in the do’s and don’t’s for every mooting step:
- Be formal so wear a suit, clean shoes, combed hair, and look presentable/professional.
- Read the mooting rules – they vary from moot to moot
- Prepare your skeleton argument and bundle, having an idea of where the articles and cases are.
- Have a bundle for the judge
- Radiate confidence and trust yourself
- Be informal, that means no jeans, short skirts, super-tight shirts or excessive make-up
- Forget to prepare for your delivery or to re-read your script before going into the moot room
- Address the judge with My Lord/Lady
- Introduce the case, keeping in mind: who, what, when and where. Add brief main point which will serve as the base of the moot.
- Refer to the judge cordially and politely
- Wait until the judge finishes and invites you to speak
- Maintain eye contact with the judge
- Speak loudly, clearly and passionately
- Use short pauses, but don’t go overboard with them.
- Assume the judge is omnipotent and refer them to your bundle with phrases like ‘may I direct you to…’
- Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice!
- Speak quickly or in a low tone, as this is a sign of panic
- Criticise past judgments or the courtroom – avoid informalities like slang
- Point to the judge
- Move around or gesticulate wildly (as if you were acting out a Shakespearean tragedy). If you cannot stay still, imagine your hand is glued to the table and focus on wiggling the tips of your toes in your shoes.
- Use fillers – when you’re pout with friends practice not saying ‘erm…’
- Over react
Delivery/Content (Where most marks come from!)
- Have three authorities prepared between statutes and cases. Remember to have one point supported by evidence.
- Print any cases out from Westlaw or Lexis in PDF form if available – it must look as though it has come from the printed law report.
- Have separate tabs in your bundle for each case
- Hand-write the page numbers
- Be unprepared – looks terrible if you read from the script or show no working knowledge of your bundle
- Have too much information to give on one point, this makes your argument look unbalanced
- Go overboard on the highlighting – judges can disapprove of this.
- If you do not understand the question don’t be afraid to ask the judge to rephrase or repeat it.
- Have a visible reaction to the question – don’t look intimidated!
- Rush in or waffle – far better to admit you do not know the answer than to deviate or try to fudge it.
Closing a moot must be done with confidence and passion, without any uncertain and childish phrases such as “I have finished” (seen often in the closing performances of new enthusiastic mooters). However, Andy and Rupert highlighted the importance of practicing your speech, trying it out on others and getting feedback, to enhance the probabilities of delivering an excellent speech. Having no interest or passion in the moot, will only lead to poor advocacy and let other people down.
Remember if you fail to prepare – be prepared to fail.
Gaia Barcilon is an LLB1 student at The City Law School.