mooting lessons 101

Introduction

As a law school student or someone aspiring to be one, it is not/ will not be rare for you to come across the idea of a moot court. Leave alone just encountering the term, it is actually a concept that is highly resonated throughout the years of your college. So, here we make an attempt to respond to all your lingering qualms on the topic and further simplify the process of how it works.

As we try to cover the complete set-up, the write up has been divided in two major chunks.

Part I covers the following categories

You may simply move on to Part II for the step by step guidelines on how to go about it.

What is a Moot Court?

A moot court is a mock court where law students are required to argue hypothetical cases for practice. The activity of mooting in a law school basically involves participants taking part in simulated court proceedings, including drafting briefs (or, memorials) and participating in oral argument. Moot courts, though considered an extra-curricular activity in the field of law, are given a lot of prominence by the legal education system. It usually comprises a team of three students who are expected to prepare on behalf of both the sides — the prosecution as well as the defense. Participants are generally called ‘Mooters’.

How is it done?

A mooting team comprises of 3 people, two students act as Speakers, while the third one acts as a Researcher. Speakers present the oral argument and the Researcher is not allowed to speak during the proceeding. However, the Researcher is the backbone of Speakers. If at any point during the oral presentation of their respective arguments, the Speakers get find themselves in a fix, it is the Researcher who has to quickly find the answer and then present it to the Speakers on a piece of paper.

The moot court’s preparation starts with research, goes on to drafting and finally comes to oral arguments. It becomes imperative to understand the law related to the problem the moot is dealing with for the better understanding of the given case itself. That is the main objective of the research.

In a moot court competition, the Counsels are required to prepare memorials (i.e. petitions) on behalf of plaintiff and defendant, or, complainant and respondent and both, according to the case.  The other part of mooting is the oral submission, obviously, the most exciting part of the whole competition.

So basically the judging criteria for the memorial can be:

  1. Presentation
  2. Contents
  3. Stream of arguments
  4. Legal Drafting aptitude
  5. The authorities and how they have been used
  6. Issues and their resourcefulness.

The orals are however, marked on the knowledge of law. It is very important as to how this legal knowledge is applied and hence, it is imperative that the issues are covered in depth after the thorough study of the subjects. The speakers are also judged on their vigilance, that is, the knack of understanding each question that has been asked and answering it to their own advantage, or to say, like an advocate. Mooters are advised to study the problem and practise as much as possible in the stipulated period of time that they have.

Mooting does not merely mean defending and arguing for one’s point of view. It also teaches students the basic rules that are to be followed in a court.

For the step by step breakdown of the complete process and how to go about a moot court competition, refer to Part II.

Importance and benefits derived

Law is the system of rules which a nation state acknowledges as a code of conduct for the regulation of actions of the members of the community which is enforced by the imposition of penalties. The judges, magistrates, law makers, barristers and lawyers are all directly connected with law. The Lawyers, however, deserve special mention, as they are the actual problem solvers. They help the general populaces, save families and protect businesses. They enable the judges to take the right decisions by putting forth the arguments of their party. This in turn, establishes the rights of the people and ensures that justice is delivered to the citizens. It is the law students of the day who will turn out to be Lawyers in future. It is vital that they are adept for the responsibilities and are well-equipped with the skills they require to perform the. Therefore, it becomes crucial that the system supplies them with knowledge enough to develop them both theoretically and practically.

It is true that “practice maketh a man perfect”. The nearest experience that any student of a law school can get to participate in actual court proceedings is a moot court. Researching and practicing an imaginary case (which is generally drafted along the lines of actual cases with both sides in equilibrium) and presenting it before judges is the closest practice one could get of legal profession. Mooting, with all its basic steps, is a much better way to learn the law than to read, interpret, comprehend, and write. It delivers a holistic approach to learning the law. It develops in a student the knack of finding relevant law, builds abstract thinking and enables in the comprehension of the pertinent legal updates. Though it takes a lot of hard work to conclude a moot court, the exposure, the knowledge, the skills gained, and the memories are beyond compare and unrivalled to any other activity a law school can provide. Hence, it is also expected of the law schools to organize such moot courts and take initiative for the betterment of their own students.
Legal employers, especially big legal firms, prefer students who have participated in moot court. Why? Because they’ve already spent several hours sharpening the analytical, research and writing skills that practicing counsels are required to have. When a prospective employer sees that you have moot court on your resume, he/she knows that you’ve been learning to fashion and communicate legal arguments for a long while, whilst you were preparing for it. The comprehension of the fact that you have already spent a lot of time in law school on these skills makes them perceive you as someone on whom the firm will have to invest less time in training and so, such an employee can spend more time actually practicing law.

Even if a job at a large firm is no what is on your mind,​ a moot court can still be of great use. That’s because it makes you increasingly more at ease with framing arguments and articulating them in front of judges, indispensable skills for any attorney.

Some of the most important benefits of this activity are summarized as below:

  1. Often, a lot of time (read: months) is spent in researching and preparing their memorials and oral submissions by the mooting team. This provides them a practical experience in the college life itself and makes the ready for their profession.
  2. Also, any employer considers the student with the moot court experience coupled with practiced research skills and other activities involving interpersonal skills an ideal candidate.
  3. Senior students who are usually given the job of student judges at intra as well as inter faculty moot court competitions, are benefitted as they enhance their judgment writing ability and forensic skills while making court questions to the student advocate. This also gives them a firsthand experience at judicial jobs which they can pursue in the future.
  4. It boosts up not only the rational and inventive skills but also amplifies knowledge as you spend a hefty time on research.
  5. If you feel that your public speaking skills need some work, moot court is a great place to hone them. Students also excel in the particular subject on which the moot problem is based and learn the art of speaking fluently.
  6. As far as personal relational skills are concerned, a moot court can provide the participants with a unique bonding experience with each other. So with the help of moot court exercise students also master the art of working with diverse people and bringing out a creative outcome. , which in turn helps in the long run as an experience of team work
  7. Lastly, it helps you find the lacunas in the expanses of law in an effectual way and differentiating the applicable from the least important ones.

Proceed to Part II

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