Mooting is a widely renowned form of competition amongst legal students throughout the globe. The skills needed to be successful in such a competition are designed to mimic those of real-world legal advocates. Not only must a competitor be confident speaking in a forum which scrutinises their argument but must also have confidence in their understanding of the law they are arguing.
Teamwork is also an essential element to competing because, much like in the real world, legal professionals often rely on their co-counsel to help build their case against the opposing side. This competition provides valuable experience to newly enrolled law students who are keen to hone such skills in a professional setting.
Essentially mooting is the oral presentation of a legal issue or problem against an opposing counsel and before a judge. It is perhaps the closest experience that a student can have whilst at university to appearing in court.
What it isn’t
Sometimes it is mistaken for a mock trial, but mooting differs as it assumes that the evidence has already been tested and focuses on practising speech and the ability to argue the question of law, whereas mock trials exist to ‘test the evidence’ and establish the case’s facts before presenting them in a real court of law.
Why should I get involved in mooting?
The legal profession is an increasingly difficult one to enter, and some application forms even demand that a candidate can provide evidence of their advocacy or mooting experience.
Mooting will also help you to build confidence in public speaking, general research, and presentation skills, which are useful skills you can transfer to most careers.
How is mooting done?
A typical moot problem is concerned solely with a point (or points) of law. Normally it will take the form of a case heard on appeal from a lower court with the grounds of appeal clearly stated.
A moot usually consists of four speakers, divided into two teams, each consisting of a leading and junior counsel. One team represents the appellants, the other the respondents. Mooters may be judged individually or as a team.
The Moot Court
The moot ‘court’ should reflect, as far as possible, a courtroom scenario in reality. The moot is presided over by at least one judge who delivers a judgment at the end of the moot on the law and on the result of the moot itself. The presiding judge is supported by the clerk of the moot who also times the moot speeches. The two teams of mooters sit at separate tables, taking turns to stand to present their arguments to the moot court.
A moot ‘speech’ will normally have a time limit of between 8 and 10 minutes per competitor. So be prepared to be on your feet, either presenting your argument or answering questions about your argument, for that amount of time. For the duration of their arguments the mooters are required to maintain the appropriate courtroom manner (remembering, amongst other things, to address the court and fellow counsel in the accepted form).
Source: What is Mooting, Oxford University Press