24 Carat Advice on Trial Advocacy Moot Courts : Interview with the Surana Stars of the Symbiosis Team

Neeati Narayan recently caught hold of the winning Symbiosis Pune team of the Surana and Surana National (South) Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition, 2013.

The team comprised of Speakers Pranav Menon and Gayatri Pradhan and Researchers Soumo Palit and Ameya Pant.

Below are the excerpts of the interview along with some fabulous tips for first time mooters and people to want to go for Trial Advocacy competitions apart from Moots.


1. Hey guys, congratulations on your victory! Basic questions first, what made you choose the moot in the first place?

I think what really attracted me to the moot is the fact that it was a ‘mock trial’ so it was actually nothing like an ordinary moot so I thought it would be a nice experience.

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Pranav: I think what really attracted me to the moot is the fact that it was a ‘mock trial’ so it was actually nothing like an ordinary moot so I thought It would be a nice experience.

Also the fact that I always wanted to have a real courtroom experience by giving closing arguments and cross examining witnesses, I felt it could be fun!

Gayatri: I think it was the challenge of trying something entirely new, like a mock trial, as opposed to its better-known counterpart, viz a moot court.

Soumo: Thank you very much. I was doing my 3rd moot  and I thought of taking a different moot this time. I have heard from my seniors who had participated in Trial Advocacy Competitions and I thought Surana & Surana Trail Avocacy would be a different experience and a good option to explore.

Ameya: I chose to be a part of this moot because of the competition and the prestige involved with it.

The second trigger was the moot problem which captivated my psyche.


2. How was the process of preparation? How did you go about the entire stage?

Pranav: When it came to the memo, we were slightly confused as to how to go about it since all the facts of the trail are yet to be admitted into evidence.

But later we realized that the memorial would be the one place in the competition wherein we could make our legal arguments rather than our factual arguments so we just made it accordingly.

The most difficult thing to do above all for a Trail Advocacy Moot would be the briefing.

You have to brief your witnesses in such a bullet proof manner so that the opposing counsel does’t have an opportunity to poke a hole in their story, this becomes particularly painful when briefing the Investigation Officer or the Medical Witnesses, but if you brief the witness properly, your case becomes much stronger.

Soumo: It was very different and quite exciting from other moots i worked earlier.

In Trial Advocacy you have to be thorough with Pre-Trial procedure…so we read up upon almost everything that’s happens in a real trial.

Also the format of pleading was entirely different so it took us some time to understand this.

Hardly any of us knew the proper procedure so we asked our Senior Strategists, plus we also took help from practicing lawyers to refine our examination and cross-examination part.

We used to take help from our friends who pose as one of the witnesses, we would prepare them , brief them about the case and their role in it and then both Pranav and Gayatri would examine and Cross- examine them to find any loopholes in the story line.

Ameya: I think the process didn’t really start till 10 days after we were allotted the moot.

Our process was planned out by our strategist “The” Ranjeet Matthew Jacob.

We split up the issues offence wise – dacoity for the researchers and Murder for the Speakers.

Each meeting it was worked out as to what the flaws were and what was required to be put in the memo and what wasn’t.

I think this was my first moot where the speakers were more active than the researchers in the memo making process. Amazing guys both of them are.

Hardly any of us knew the proper procedure so we asked our Senior Strategists, plus we also took help from practicing lawyers to refine our examination and cross-examination part.


3. How was it like working with the team? What do you think are your team’s fortes? What were the roadblocks?

Pranav: I think the team worked really well with one and other, we all had good synergy.

The road blocks that came up was the times in which we were practicing when a witness completely changed his/ her story which made the cross examination a dead end.

We didn’t have any roadblocks as a team per se.

Gayatri: The whole team was on the  same page when it came to any aspect of preparation- especially memorials and briefings.

Small things like mock- examining and crossing the other persons’ witnesses, really helped along the way.

Our forte was the communication between the team. It was really important, considering the format of the competition. I was really glad of the fact that we didn’t need to cross-check each-other’s  work at every stage of the competition.

Soumo: Both Gayatri and Pranav had a good chemistry between them. Pranav was brilliant in his closing statements and Gayatri had a very good knowledge in Forensics Science so it helped us making a good line of questions for the opposing counsels.

Also we had Ameya Pant as one of the two Researcher who was equally knowledgeable his inputs was indispensable.

Ameya: Both of the speakers were extremely talented in drafting and pleadings. Gayatri needs to relax more but as a mooter she’s sheer brilliance.

Pranav, according to me, is  officially the best closer in Symbi- even headed and confident, but most importantly a damn funny guy.

Gayatri had a very good knowledge in Forensics Science so it helped us making a good line of questions for the opposing counsels.


4. How many teams were you up against in the competition? Which team would you consider to be your toughest competition?

Pranav and Gayatri: Since it was a direct Prelims to Semis competition we went up against 4 teams in total.

I think when it comes to the toughest competition, it would be hard to say since both SASTRA School of Law (Who we went up against in the Semi’s) and ILS (who we had gone up against in the Finals) were both equally good since they both had strong speakers on the their team, one of the members of the SASTRA team had won best advocate in last year’s trial advocacy.

SASTRA was excellent when it came to cracking their witnesses. They had done a great job at briefing. I had to really pull out all tricks from the bag, so to speak, to even create a dent in their story line.


5. How was the final round up against ILS? 

Pranav: Difficult, to say the least. They briefed their witnesses really well and made it very difficult to crack them. They also knew their Court procedure very well, so the round could have gone either way by the end of it.

Gayatri: ILS, Pune was the Prosecution and we  were the defence. They had really briefed their witnesses like we had done ours, so it was like as going up against yourself.

Plus, they had come up with new things in their opening, like adding a new charge. So to come up with valid grounds for a rebuttal/objection, seconds before our opening was a real challenge.

The humorous witnesses were another awesome aspect of the rounds. All in all, it was a good round.


6. What message would you like to pass on to the mooters and the non-mooters?

If you didn’t like it, no harm no foul!

Pranav: As idealistic as it would sound, do your prep well and go with a positive mind, and if you’ve really done enough work you’ll definitely do well.

And to everyone who hasn’t mooted before, you should give mooting a try at least once in your law college life just to see whether it’s a good fit.

If you didn’t like it, no harm no foul!

Gayatri: One must try a mock trial at least once, to get a feel of what it may be actually like to practise litigation. It is so different from a moot court and a lot of fun.

The research involved is so different and unique in itself. Who knew that learning basics of ballistics and forensic science could be so much fun.

The best part of it is the drama involved. Its great to see people being so dramatic as witnesses- sarcastic/funny/ witty. And the 70’s movie-like feel of the court room-complete with ‘Objections’ ‘Over-ruled’ ‘Sustained’ and the works! Highly recommended for every law student!

Ameya: If you’re a mooter – strive for excellence and you’ll win one day definitely.

If you’re a non-mooter – I suggest you moot, you don’t know what you’re missing out on, it’s great fun.

Soumo: To any non-mooters- You guys do as many moots as possible because I think in a Law School/ College moots are the best way to enjoy as well as learn new things.

A moot always gives you opportunity to do something out of books as it gives you practical experience. Furthermore, it forces you to learn something that you may not learn in ordinary course of your Syllabus and Curriculum.

A person can be a good debtor but not necessarily he would a good mooter and that’s because Moot aims on your both Pleading Skills as well as Researching Skills and your Drafting Skills as well.

In this I would love to quote what my seniors told me in my first moot, “And don’t fear defeat, you do moot not just to win it, but you do it because you love to do it. Giving your best shot you always come out knowing something new and that’s what matters in the end and that alone is your trophy. The Experience.” 

One must try a mock trial at least once, to get a feel of what it may be actually like to practise litigation. It is so different from a moot court and a lot of fun.

The team also won the 3rd best memo in the same competition. You can download the memos HERE.

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