Mooting is a daunting activity for beginners and experienced mooters. A student, with progresses and experiences in more moots they become less daunting, but it is not a natural experience. Many students who had previously signaled their desire to participate in a moot will, by the date the moot arrives, would rather be anywhere else than in the moot. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, some students take that as a reason to stay at home, go shopping or do anything else that isn’t a moot. This leaves those who want to do it and can handle the nerves and anxiety in a better off position because the competition eliminates itself before they have even gotten to the moot.
Anyway, in my last moot, watching the new mooters take to the floor made me want to jump down from my side and give them some quick pointers before they begun. I couldn’t then, but I can now. Here it goes:
- BE PREPARED.
Seriously, be prepared, there’s a reason it’s written in all Caps. Not only will this mean you’re ready for questions from the Bench but you’ll be a lot less nervous.
- Make sure your written submissions are clear, precise, accurate and easy to follow.
You want your judge to focus on your advocacy not on trying to follow your citations on the page.
- “Uhm is not an answer”, don’t say “Uhm”, “ahhh”, “err”, it just makes it sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about or you’re about to say something stupid or untrue.
If you feel an ‘Uhm’ coming on press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. It’ll give you a moment to compose your thoughts and make you sound considered and precise.
- This is court, not like, the shopping centre.
Don’t use the word “like”, like this: “So your Honour, my client like, entered into this, like, contract…”. It makes you sound young, inexperienced and unsure. Did your client enter into a contract or did she not? You can’t like enter into a contract but you can enter into a contract.
- You’re a team, act like a team!
Yes there’s one person on their feet speaking but the rest of your team at the bar table should be following your argument, following cases, handing you summaries of a case if needed and so on. You’re not just being judged on how well you speak, you’re being judged on your collective advocacy skills.
- It’s ok to pause, take a moment, consult with your team and continue.
It’ll allow you to compose and reset, it also shows the Bench that you’re working as a unit.
- Call the judge the right thing!
What jurisdiction you’re in will determine what you call the judge. Don’t forget to look it up and be consistent. Some judges don’t mind being called “Madam” or “sir” but Your Honour is probably best- again, jurisdiction depending. Don’t call them Your Majesty. I’ve seen that- it’s embarrassing.
- Be clear about your argument and don’t be deviated from stressing your main points.
Use this formula: begin your argument by telling the Bench what you’re going to argue, argue it, then tell the Bench what you just argued. Your main points are important, make sure they get more than a passing mention!
- Speak slowly and clearly.
It’s all well and good to have the best argument but useless if it can’t be understood. Practice your public speaking and consider attending a course to sharpen your skills. As part of your preparation have the last 45 seconds of your final submission and conclusion highlighted and ready to go. This way, if you get a final one minute warning you can wrap up what you’re saying and move on to your final submission and not go over time. You’ll end by affirming your case not in a tangle because you ran out of time.
- While you’re mooting, that very room you are in whether it’s a spare classroom or an actual courtroom is for all intents and purposes a court in session.
All normal rules of court are to be followed in the way you dress, behave, speak, and not speak! Obviously, don’t use your phone, obviously.
- These invaluable tips have been prepared and provided in association with students of Law Centre-II, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. LC-II is hosting its 3rd National Moot Court Competition : Justified’18 – from 23rd to 25th March, 2018. Follow the latest updates on the Official Page : Justified2k18
Happy Mooting 🙂