By Dylan Hopcroft, Media/Law III
THE JUDGES YOU MAY ENCOUNTER WHILE MOOTING
1) The Student Judge Who Hasn’t Read Your Submissions
This judge has just come out of a 4-6pm law class. Yes, they have received your submissions, but they haven’t read them yet. They might have read the fact scenario. This judge is prone to rely on the judging guide provided to them. These judges will have the basic knowledge of the law required to get them through your 20 minute submissions. Don’t worry, they won’t be asking you too many tough questions.
2) The Student Judge Who Has Read Your Submissions
Be slightly more apprehensive of these judges. They have gone through your submissions and annotated them. They have marked out specific flaws in your argument and will question you about them. They might throw you a few tough questions, but you should be able to hold your own.
3) Nice judges
These judges just want to hug you. They’re like giant life sized furbies. They’ll ask you really nice questions and nod at you fervently while you answer. Even if they ask you tough questions, they’ll do it in such a nice way that you will happily answer them. These judges may also have traits from points 1 & 2 & 4.
4) The Attractive Judge
‘Sorry your honour, could you repeat the question?’
These judges are so good looking you can’t concentrate on the questions they are asking you. They look so beautiful/handsome all dressed up. They seem so intelligent. Closing your eyes may be the best solution to this problem, even if it means losing points for court etiquette.
5) The Panel of Judges
‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, because their chief weapon is surprise!’
While one judge is questioning you, the others are thinking about what their next question will be. This format means that judges are more relaxed since they get more breaks from questioning you. The panel is analogous to the American Idol panel. One judge might be mean, like Simon, while the others are usually pretty straightforward. The personalities on the bench should balance themselves out. You will also get a greater variety of questions from the bench. Don’t be surprised if they play the good cop, bad cop game.
6) The Demi God Student Judge
This judge will ask you questions that will make you wet yourself as you stare into their dead, all knowing eyes. Don’t upset them, they may grill you on the personal stove they brought to the moot. Jokes aside, these judges will provide you with a very satisfying moot if you have prepared well enough.
WHAT LAW STUDENTS THINK ABOUT MOOTING
1) IT’S HARD
Most novice mooters would say that mooting is difficult. Especially for those who haven’t done it before. You get five days to prepare for the moot. You have to scour through lots of cases. If you’re feeling brave you might decide to pull the I’ll leave this until the night before stunt where you find yourself writing right up until the 12am deadline.
Mooting is almost placed on its own pedestal in the law society. It has a reputation for being one of the harder competitions in terms of preparation compared to the negotiations or client interviewing competitions.
As a novice mooter, the experience is an extreme learning curve. You have to integrate court etiquette and legal jargon. You need to be clear and concise. You need to be flexible and answer some tough questions. All while keeping your cool. Teams in their first beginners moot are essentially learning on the fly.
a) IT’S HARD: MOOTING BY THE NUMBERS
Since the experience of mooting to beginners is completely foreign, I believe this helps to perpetuate the perception that mooting is a difficult activity. This is because your very first experience will be a tough one as you don’t know the rules of the game. In fact, I’d wager that once people realise the amount of commitment and work mooting requires, it creates a high drop off rate from beginners to senior mooting.
Beginners mooting this year had around 220 competitors in Round 1, followed by 186 competitors in Round 2.
Intermediate mooting had 123 competitors in Round 1.
Senior mooting only had 62 competitors in Round 2.
Perhaps this decline suggests that people just don’t have the time/don’t care/think it’s too hard as they get into their older years of law school.
2) IT’S REWARDING
If you get over the initial rough patch at the start of mooting where everything seems tough, mooting may become an enjoyable experience. It’s an opportunity to practice your legal skills, becoming a better advocate. You leave the room with the sense that you have achieved something great.
Mooting is also probably one of the fastest ways to learn how to do proper legal research. You will apply everything you should have learnt during those legal research tutorials, in the five days you are trying to prepare for your moot. Furthermore, mooting teaches you what it means to be an officer of the court. By this I mean that you learn how to have measured, intellectual conversations with judges while also trying to give a persuasive submission. The whole process just makes you appreciate good legal conversation.
Oh, and don’t forget that you get to dress up ;)
Having a high quality conversation with a good judge can also give you a sense of satisfaction. We future lawyers love the sound of our own voice, and feeling like you’ve hit home is a good feeling. It’s why we do law degrees. It’s one of the few places where you can have dedicated high calibre conversations about legal problems… even if you did spend the previous five days dedicated to preparing.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
Mooting is a highly rewarding experience. It is an opportunity to put your imaginative conceptions of legal practice to the test. You get to work in a team, research, persuade and drive your point home – it’s just a fantastic competition. You may even get the chance to travel overseas if you’re good enough! Even though it is hard work, I believe the benefits of the competition outweigh the amount of preparation required. It is simply just one of best ways to improve your lawyerly skills, you’ve just got to stick it out!