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Advice to 1Ls on the Occasion of their First Moot

Courtroom


Nora Kharouba (2L)

The 1L moot was one of the most memorable experiences in my first year of law. It probably had something to do with the fact that I got to dress up all ‘lawyer-like.’ But it was also like a rite of passage. I wanted to do it again and so I chose to take part in a competitive moot this year. If there is one piece of advice I received that kept me afloat then and continues to do so now it’s this: mooting is nothing more than an intellectual conversation with judges. Judges do not ask questions to bewilder you. They do so because they are genuinely interested in clarifying points of confusion. They may also be interested in exploring the depth, consequences or impacts of your arguments. In essence, it’s ‘bouncing ideas’ back and forth. So, what can you do to at least make sure you’re ready to have this conversation:
• Take your factum, think your arguments through, and critique them. Don’t feel bad if you realize that the argument wasn’t as strong as you thought. Use your criticisms to construct answers that elaborate on your points in a way you can incorporate in your oral submission.
• This is a MUST if you want extra points: have an opening that frames the legal issue – i.e. “This case is about this!” – states your position, along with a road map of the order of your arguments.
• Take the time to ‘learn the moot lingo’ – for example, you want to end off with “Subject to any further questions, these are my submissions.”
• Make sure you know the facts of cases you are relying on – The panel may pose to you a different interpretation of the case than you’ve proposed. It is your job to analogize in a way that makes sense for your argument. You may also be confronted with a case that weakens your argument. Use that time to distinguish that case to say why it makes no difference to the conclusions you are making.
• Everyone has a different moot style – and that is okay – but judges do appreciate some energy and passion. Just don’t over-do it.
• Reading from your script line by line is highly discouraged. It is fine to glance down here and there to jog your memory, but eye contact is vital.
• Pace your tone. Don’t feel like you need to address every corner of your script. Judges will ask questions on the points they need to hear about. Other than that, choose a few key points that you know you don’t want to end without stating. Just ensure you’ve at least covered those.
• As cliché as it sounds, really do just have fun with it. You’ll likely be nervous, and that’s totally normal but the minute you take the podium, that disappears. The nerves transform to positive energy. So seize it!
Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions! kharouba@ualberta.ca