There are few moments in your life that you remember crystal clear, a bit like a still from a good film which you have on continuous replay. Standing in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, shaking the hand of Judge Cryan, and hearing him announce my name as the winner of the City Scholars Moot 2018 was one of those moments. The thought that just a few months earlier I was only a few minutes away from erasing that memory seems so surreal to me now…
The hardest part about mooting for me? It wasn’t the late nights searching in the library reading through pages (and pages!) of cases scanning for anything that would help my case; it wasn’t that moment right before I stood up to present my ten minute submissions each round; it wasn’t even dealing with the unpredictable judge’s interventions. The hardest part of all was simply saying ‘yes’ to the challenge of putting myself in the competition in the first place — it was signing up, saying I’ll put behind me all my doubts and any previous bad experiences of public speaking I had encountered as a younger girl and giving myself a chance to make a new one. I could not be more elated that I did.
Saying yes, meant I had a chance to discover the exhilaration and extreme sport that is mooting. “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning, but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well”. If he had not specified otherwise, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, could have been talking about the lawyerly sport of mooting. An extreme sport? It really is! In more ways than I realised, I have now discovered that mooting is just like training for any kind of sport, be it a decathlon, a marathon or a regatta; only instead of training your physical body, you are training your mental agility.
You are exercising your mind muscle and enhancing your ability to research, to scan large amounts of material in limited time, to construct an argument, to test your own argument on another team doing precisely the same thing, to manipulate language, to be creative in finding an argument when you feel like all hope is lost, you are testing your self-confidence and your own resilience when questioned by peers, judges and ultimately yourself. Mooting is wonderful; and I think it deserves its own Championship games!
Just like a tennis player will tell you when training for Wimbledon, or a footballer training for the World Cup or a jockey training for Ascot; it doesn’t happen overnight. I know they say that practice makes perfect, however that’s something I do not think I ever fully appreciated before I started mooting. It felt to me when I would listen in awe at BBC Radio 4 presenters on Just a Minute being able to speak ‘without repetition, deviation or hesitation’; or watching lawyers in action in court; or a really engaging Intelligence Squared debate, that people were just born with the voice of an excellent advocate. The fact is no-one is. We are, however, born with a voice and the capacity to be an excellent advocate. Just like being able to grow from speaking your first words to singing beautiful ballads – you have to start somewhere. With every round I learnt something new and with every round I improved on my previous best.
Mooting not only ensured I learn the subjects I was studying even more thoroughly than I might have, it is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I have ever had. It will send you on an emotional rollercoaster for sure, do be warned! You will cry, you will laugh, you will feel anxiety, you will feel excitement; there will even be times when you question why you put yourself through it! However, I can assure you – it will be worth it. You will learn and discover things you never knew and you will meet new people, gain new memories and prove to yourself you can do something you never thought you could.
I never dreamed I would make it into the competition not to mention past the first round; and so for me it wasn’t the end result that felt most triumphant, it was getting past the hurdle of doubting myself and believing that I’d fail instantly. Give yourself a chance, throw yourself into the deep end and just say yes! I’m always happy to lend a whisper (or a helpful email) to your inner yourself if you should need a nudge!
Many thanks to Jade-Amanda Laporte, LLB student at the City Law School for this encouraging post…give it a go….!