Are Model United Nations (MUNs) Important for a Law Student?

Q. How important are Model United Nations (MUN) for a law student. (Asked on Facebook by Devahuti Pathak)

If you love MUNing; MUN. If you don’t like MUN; don’t MUN. Yes, its a very Fountain Head-ish advice; but do consider your likes when you decide to embark upon an act.

The very calculated advice would be: Yes! MUNs are important. Common sense tells me that to be a good MUNer you need to:

1. Be a proactive person who hunts for opportunities; travels big distances; spends money, time and effort on that something called MUN. Being proactive is very important for a lawyer. Every recruiter likes a proactive person.

2. Be good with your speaking and negotiating skills: In the end there is the lawyer and there is the client and we have two people at work. Two is a company and the company interacts.

As a service provider, the lawyer has to obviously handle the business and the legal sides of a transaction. As a person the lawyer also needs to talk and interact and converse. (A company interacts, you know.) And he also needs to be very good at the negotiating table. MUNing will surely chisel a bit of these skills: interpersonal, negotiating skills etc.

3. When you MUN you meet new people, you make new friends and you network. And oh! Networking is so awesomely important for lawyers.

Maybe the IIT Kharagpur guy you met at the MUN will one day invent something that needs a patent and he may call you up. Or maybe that B-school girl (somewhere down the line) needs some advice on how to incorporate her startup. MUNing is important, you see.

Your friends are generally your first clients.

4. Supreme General Awareness.
Important for a law student.

5. Ability to argue.
Thats our daily bread. Say Hi to Mr. MUN; the baker!

I’ll leave you with a quote: Everything is important; till you realise it.

PS 1- People at Lawctopus have exams. Lawctopus might thus appear to be hibernating.

PS 2 – Haste will you wait; someone advised us. And we are doing that.

Read More

Comment Using Facebook

Comments Till Now

  1. shivani goel says:

    I would not parasitically agree with the views of the writer but there is an obvious need for MUNning while at law schools and even otherwise for the simple reason that they are being given a “hyped” importance;no place or no such NO SENSE gets promoted so vividly if at all the need is so ‘needless’.
    ALSO,undermining the necessity of other activities,then be it mooting or debating adds cherries to the plum cake of ours’ when we stand up to brush those GE-LL-OED research,communication,leadership,and the much needed friend-making skills.

    PS: ALL’S NOT THE CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS BABE.

  2. Sudipto Sircar says:

    I feel that the answer to this question should have been limited to the first two lines of this article, as they aptly sum up the reality of life for todays Indian Law student.

    I will also take the liberty to include parliamentary debates into this post as I hold similar views on all three: moot courts, MUNs and PDs.

    At the very outset it should be clarified that if you don’t moot or debate, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU WILL NOT BECOME A GOOD LAWYER. what matters most to become a good lawyer are hard work and knowledge of the Law.

    Moots, MUNs and PDs are all at an equal footing on the following aspects:

    1. How much you learn through participation in these competitions.
    2. How participation in these competitions improves your chances of securing a job.

    For all those who are pursuing law simply to get a “job” in a law firm or a LPO, it is a fact, whether you like it or not, that marks matter the most. Participation in these competitions will help if you WIN an award at these competitons. Otherwise, there is a very good chance that recruiters will remain indifferent to the presence of such competitions in your CV if you have no results to show for your participation.

    In fact, though I cannot vouch for it, but I have heard that any publication in a reputed journal(read: ISSN certified) will be bigger boost to your CV than participation in these competitions.

    For law students who wish to pursue litigation or some other profession related to law (e.g.: international diplomacy, politics, etc.), again, please do not be under the impression that a senior lawyer will be impressed with you because you participated in ten different moot courts or MUNs. Winning is again important to impress. However, these competitions, provided you take them seriously, irrespective of the result, will help you in developing your oratory skills and will help you gain confidence for public speaking. so for those who never got an opportunity to debate or practice public speaking during their days in school, this is an excellent platform for practice. also, I agree with above post that these competitions can help you in networking and can help in overall development of your personality.

    I myself am an avid mooter and writer, and though I like the concept of MUNs and PDs, I do not participate in them since it is tough to mange everything in an already tightly scheduled semester.

    Notwithstanding all that has been written above,do participate in these competitions, if only for getting out of the daily drub of college, if nothing else. Plus, they’re fun !!

    P.S.: The argument that MUNs help in the development of negotiation skills and moots do not has a fallacy in it. Most moot court competitions of today, especially arbitration competitions, require extensive negotiation skills as most moot problems these days are extremely ambiguous, leaving a lot of issues and facts open to be freely dealt with by the teams themselves with an open mind. Also, many problems are drafted in such a way so as to ensure that no single team can get an opportunity to win their case hands down, no matter how meticulous the research. Such problems often ask teams to “choose” between the multiple reliefs available since each of these reliefs are ironically contradictory to each other !!

  3. I’m not from India and I’m not a law student — I’m from the US and I blog about Model UN — but do Indian law schools organize MUN conferences?

    To my knowledge, MUN conferences worldwide are organized by high school and college students (and a few private companies), whereas Moot Court Competitions are strictly a law school activity.

    Given this, it seems flawed to compare the two activities in terms of substance and rigor because their purposes differ. Both are learning opportunities, but Model UN is a fun way to teach younger students general leadership skills — public speaking, teamwork, negotiation — whereas Moot Court teaches skills specific to the court room (again, I’m not in law school, so correct me if I’m wrong). Most Model UN students will never become diplomats, whereas Moot Court is meant for lawyers-in-training.

    Moreover, the Model UN experiences described in the previous comments seem related only to traditional General Assembly simulations — large committees where many delegates find themselves uninvolved. A more appropriate comparison to Moot Court competitions would be found in simulations of the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court, which commonly take place at MUN conferences in the US — but even these simulations are not run by law students.

    Personally, I would love to see law schools organizing MUN conferences. While Moot Court covers one skill all lawyers must learn — argument — Model UN covers another — negotiation. A law school-organized MUN conference could feature small committees emphasizing treaty negotiation (public international law) and disputes between multinational companies (private international law), in addition to now-typical simulations of the ICJ and ICC — which would be organized with the same substance and rigor as any moot court competition.

    Only then could you make a true comparison between the two activities.

  4. Diviya Patpatia says:

    Whatever has been said by the writer holds significance at many levels. It has to be understood as both a statement of fact as well as a statement of intent. One cannot cannot have a single pointed perspective on Mun’s in specific and a legal education in general. Something very important that Harjass Singh brought out was the fact that we have to look at the underlying aim behind these competitions in general. As a first year law student my opinion is based more on observation rather than any sort of experience. Mun’s widen your base as student and as a result you have better preparedness and understanding of what goes on in the International political and legal scenario apart from giving very stimulus to some very important skills like leadership that have a central role to play in a professional life.
    Comparisons have always been drawn between Moots and Mun’s. Something that has to be understood is that neither of them bear any resemblence to what happens in the real world scenario. The only advantage a mooter can draw is the legal specific nature of these competitions.

    Something that i would like to add is that students from lesser competitive law schools get to learn and gather a lot from some of these Mun’s and mooting tournaments for they cater to the needs of student which might not be adequately fulfilled by your institution.
    The pointlessness and pompous nature of these competitions can always be debated,however their importance cannot be overlooked.
    As far as the ills of these competitions are concerned, it would be very shallow on our part to look at it. There are people partcipating who have a purpose and drive behind them.

    Something that i have always learnt is that at times the run-up is more important than the delivery,specially when you are aiming at an education of sorts.

  5. Harjass Singh says:

    Firstly, I agree with a majority of points put forth by the writer. But would like to add that along with this, MUNs also hone leadership qualities as one is expected to work effectively in a large group.

    I do disagree with Nitish with his assertion that MUNs are over-rated and Moots are not, because just as in an MUN you don’t come up with a resolution that has any bearing on the World; in a moot your memo doesn’t have any bearing on how the judiciary shall function. It’s essential to understand that every competition in Law School provides you with an opportunity to learn, and while Moots give you knowledge that is strictly legal, MUNs do teach you about International Law and Politics, and its application in the plethora of events that actually affect the World. I believe that one must look at the competitive side of things. If there are MUNers who are merely interested in passing chits; there are also MUNers who are deeply interested in engaging in dialogue during the course of the Conference and approach the conference with competitive fervour. So, focus on the competitive and let the others be.

    Dear Mr. Roark, the fact that you needed a pseudonym to make such a post points to a lack of confidence in your stand. The fact is that what you advocate is a one-track mind to achieving a ‘job’. Remember, all-rounders (not jacks of all trades) have, do and always will be acknowledged whether you like it or not. If Bill Gates would have been content to fit in, mug up his text books and accept the ‘job’ he got rather than think out of the box; the World wouldn’t have been the same!

  6. Howard Roark says:

    Do [….] with your extremely stupid advice.
    It is people like you who believe that whatever they do is the best and everybody should follow the same. To be honest, this is the least fountain-headish piecce of advice I ever read.

    Law students should firstly focus on their grades, which will help then get jobs. The already overburdened academic schedule of most national law schools shud not be made worse by wasting money on doing shit things.

    In fact, to be honest, MUN shud only be done by those who are seriously interested in being a diplomat or international lawyer.( Objectivism applied rationally) For the rest of law students, it adds up to the ever increasing list of things you can do in law school trying to get some cheap popularity or wasting precious time and money in trying to do everything.
    I fact, the students who try to be jack-of-all-trades rather than specializing in certain areas tend to be real losers and do not add much value to the organisation they join after law school. They can do a little bit of everything, but cannot do anything well.

    Rather than wasting the scarcely available time on this, an average law student should keep his focus and work on things he likes, and not try to be a part of the herd…

  7. Rahul Dev says:

    @ Nitish:

    While you may be right about your observations regarding MUN but in drawing the analogies with mooting, if you mean to suggest that they are any better then i totally disagree with you. mooting is the worst and most unproductive activity possible. it is economically and socially and practically inefficient and SO NOT “REAL”. anyway, i can go on and on about the negatives of mooting but i would not like to digress.

  8. I won’t entirely disagree with the points brought out but in my opinion, MUNs are overrated and unnecessary for a law student.
    I agree with the networking and ‘being proactive’ bit but beyond that MUNs aren’t worth the time and money spent. At the end of the day you’re drafting resolutions which have no intrinsic value. Nobody reads them. You’re not fighting for a REAL cause and you can hardly relate to the parties (countries) involved. Unlike moots, MUNs aren’t half as challenging and there is the option of just sitting, observing and not speaking at all. Most MUNers just enjoy the chit-passing business (which is fun, no doubt). MUNs cant test debating skills because unlike moots, you’re not arguing on facts. I’m sure every delegate (and even the Chair) cooks up facts and figures while speaking at MUNs. I would choose to go to an MUN not for seeking any real knowledge but just to have some fun and meet new people.

Or Comment Here Anonymously

*

X