Stand and Deliver: Doing a Moot

AuthorAllan C. Hutchinson
While each law student’s experience of law school and legal education
will differ, one of the shared experiences will nearly always be moot-
ing. In almost all law schools, every law student is required at some
point to prepare for and argue in a moot. For some students, this
occurs in the first year; for others, it will be in the upper years. There
will, of course, be a small number of students who relish such an
opportunity and who will become part of their law school’s mooting
team in the many interschool, competitive moots that are scheduled
each year; they enjoy the challenge of debating or public speaking and
hope for a career in litigation. For many students, however, the moot
looms as one of the least appetizing and most fearful requirements of
their legal education; it is up there with the exams on the scale of edu-
cational torments.
This chapter is for both groups — the enthusiasts and the enlist-
ed. For those who are thrown into a state of paralysis at the very
thought of mooting, there is a thorough and simple prescription for
turning “mootophobia” into a bearable and even rewarding occasion.
stand and deliver
doing a moot
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For those eager to participate in mooting, I present a clear and con-
cise method for developing and enhancing your mooting skills. This
chapter covers the preparation, the writing of a factum, and the pres-
entation of the oral argument.
so nice to moot you
Mooting consists of preparing written submissions in the form of a
factum and making those arguments in an oral presentation before a
mock bench of judges. Moots usually involve an appellate review of a
recent and controversial case: you will be given the judgment of a
lower court and expected to work up an appeal from it. It can be in
any area of law. For compulsory in-school moots, the most common
areas are constitutional and criminal cases. Competitive moots run
the gamut of possibilities, from Charter cases through corporate law
to Aboriginal claims. Mooters are required to do research (often
extensive in competitive moots), write the factum, and make oral sub-
missions. In most law schools, students will moot in pairs. Even if
you have no intention of entering legal practice and/or becoming a
litigator, this preparation gives you invaluable experience. As well as
providing an opportunity to hone and test your research skills (see
chapter 7), mooting gives you valuable experience in furthering your
writing abilities in a specialized context (see chapter 6) and, most dis-
tinctly, it obliges students to develop the habits of oral argument and
presentation — a talent you will be asked to perform in some situa-
tion or another whether you become a lawyer or enter a different pro-
fession. The experience of mooting will hold you in good stead by
refining your argumentative techniques, by emphasizing the impor-
tance of stating your position succinctly, and by giving you the confi-
dence to speak publicly.
Approached with the right attitude, mooting can be and should be
a positive and, dare it be said, fun experience. It is a time when you
get to present your view of how a particular case should be resolved
under two unique conditions. First, there is no client to be concerned
about: no one’s freedom or property or money is on the line. This cir-
cumstance allows you a chance to make original and daring arguments
184 / the law school book

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