By Shikhar Maniar
How to ace mooting is a misleading title. I am of the belief that there is no such thing as ‘acing’ a moot. Mooting is a subjective experience. It allows us to test our legal acumen, challenge ourselves and puts us in a position that requires us to be better than what we are currently.
In some ways, it takes us beyond the identity of law students and makes us actual lawyers, at least for a few months.
During these months we learn and think of things that have never crossed our minds previously. These aspects make mooting the great method of learning that it is.
So, would it really be true to say that a winner of a moot court competition ‘aced’ the moot better than someone who did not win but learnt as much about the subject of law in concern, tried his/her best to understand the interplay of facts, and someone who got a clear picture about the manner of making a submission before a court?
Winning is just a testament to the individual and the team working hard to make the best of the learning opportunity, but this does not take away from the many others who worked, learnt, enjoyed and thus ‘aced’ the moot for themselves!
Having said that, here are a few tips to help you make the best of a mooting opportunity. Before I list them out, for the sake of credibility, I have been asked to state the moots that I have done.
I have been a part of teams that have participated in the Phillip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition, the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot Court Competition and the Oxford Price Media Moot Court Competition. I have done well and have enjoyed myself thoroughly in all of them.
(Note: there are many articles on the internet giving tips for different aspects of mooting, but I’ll only limit myself here to what I think are the key lessons I have learnt through experience).
1. Make sure that you are a part of a team with members that are better than you.
They should have the same level of commitment as you, if not more, to reach the team’s mooting goals.
When Lawctopus asked me to write this piece, I immediately thought about how all my teammates in the past moots are in a better position to do so, seeing as to how they are better mooters than me.
Having people who are more driven, hardworking, smarter and more mature than you will help you to become a better mooter and unleash your potential.
While this may seem difficult to understand in literal terms, it would be ideal to form a team that makes up for each other’s weaknesses. You will learn as much from your teammates as you will learn from reading the law on your own.
2. Make sure you plan ahead.
Set up timelines before and after the release of the problem. These timelines have to be in place to dictate your pre-moot problem release and post-moot problem release preparation.
Following the standards that you set at the start of the moot and keeping those standards throughout will determine how well you do at the end of the entire process.
3. Be openminded and ask for help.
Being shy when you don’t know how to go ahead with something will not help you. Ask for help shamelessly from those who have done well at the moot in the past. Their experience of being in the same position and figuring out answers may serve to be vital for your preparations.
4. When it comes to making your memorials, always remember that one draft is not enough.
There will always be better ways of writing the same arguments. So, it is important to make the whole memo well in advance of the submission date so that you have enough time for drafting.
One style of drafting that I like to follow is the ‘IRAC’ system. This involves drafting the Issue or the question in clear terms, stating the correct Rule of law, Analysing the rule with the facts of your case and Concluding in a manner that persuades the judge to grant you the relief you seek.
Thus, the IRAC structure is Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion.
5. With respect to preparing for the oral rounds, make sure to practice with as many people as possible.
Try to explain things in clear and simple terms. It is important to note that what makes sense in your head may not necessarily be the correct way to explain your understanding to a judge.
The more people you practice with the better as it will test your flexibility as an oralist to explain your positions to different types of judges that you will face at the actual competition. It would always be ideal to have a well-rehearsed speech that you are comfortable with and also have the flexibility to make submissions impromptu as per the questioning of the judges.
6. Read constantly.
Even if there are only 10 minutes left before your oral rounds and you happen to have a doubt about that a point of law, try to read to get further clarity.
The end goal would always be to achieve as much clarity as you possibly can for that will determine how well you have cracked a problem. The more the judge is convinced that you are confident about your submissions, the more the likelihood of them adjudicating in your favour.
7. Make sure you never let your personal ego/ambition get the better of the mooting experience.
Once you let your personal ego take importance, you can consider yourself to have lost the moot already. So, try not to fight with any of your teammates and try to never forget that the underlying purpose for this is to have fun, learn along the way and win together.
More than how well you prepare, your mentality throughout the period will determine how you perform in the end.
8. And therefore, lastly, make sure to have a great time!
This is an experience very unique to law school and not many have a privilege to have such an experience. So, make sure to have fun because it is all you’ll remember down the line.
I hope these help you in your moots. What I love about mooting is the challenge it gives me to push myself. There are a few challenges in law school that come close to the difficulty of mooting.
So, I hope you pick them up for the challenge. The “CV value” and other supposed benefits will hardly matter in actuality. Such considerations will become microscopic when compared to the opportunity to test yourself as a lawyer.
Shikhar Maniar is a fourth-year law student from GNLU.