Congratulations to all 1Ls for completing fall semester midterms and reaching the home stretch! Hopefully Christmas break allowed everyone to step back and take a deep breath, as more challenges await in 2019. In particular, the LRW moot represents an opportunity to hop out of the doldrums of reading and studying to gain practical experience in what litigators do every day. Before standing at the podium in front of three Supreme Moot Court of the University of Alberta judges, the time leading up to oral arguments will largely determine how successful any mooter can be. Keep in mind these useful tips as you begin preparing for one of the most exciting parts of your first year in law school.
Start Small: Figure Out Where You Stand
Making sure you don’t waste time on irrelevant considerations means knowing exactly what the moot asks you to do. Read all assigned documents carefully with a mind to the scope of what you are expected to argue on appeal. A good place to start is recognizing who your client is, whether you are the appellant or respondent, the area of law your moot problem is focussed on, and what the pertinent legal issues are.
Become Well Versed in the Information That Will Help You Understand Your Case
Knowing the facts of your case is paramount not only for crafting an argument, but also for thinking about questions judges can pose during the mock trial. In rendering a judgment, they consider the ramifications of their decision beyond the situation at hand and often ask questions that tweak details in the case to see how your argument might change. Don’t be caught flat-footed in the event a judge poses a slight, but significant change to the facts.
In addition, any materials that are provided to guide you throughout the process are critical to review. For example, sample memorandums can assist in constructing your own court documents while the judgments from the lower courts concerning your impending trial will shine a spotlight on how the present appeal has come to be.
Finally, the relevant legal authorities relied on by your side and your opponent’s side will form the bulk of the arguments presented to the moot court. Legislation that governs your case should be reviewed, but noting up cases and understanding how the reasoning can be applied to your argument (or distinguished, if the result is not favorable) will put any mooter in a good position.
Actively Communicate with Your Partner and Divide the Work
You and your partner will be splitting up research on the issues, drafting a collective memo, and ultimately presenting oral arguments together. While you don’t need to resemble partners out of a buddy cop film, developing rapport early will ensure deadlines are met and your collective work isn’t fragmented.
As You Tune Your Argument, Anticipate Questions and Your Opponent’s Position
Crafting a compelling argument for a moot requires a coherent structure, ideas that flow smoothly, and the links in the chain being connected by logical reasoning. All of these are chiseled through research that anticipates the strengths and weaknesses of your own position while simultaneously considering what your opponent is likely to argue. Ask whether your position is favorable on the facts, on the law, or both. When it comes time for oral arguments, be prepared for judges to ask you about the flaws in your argument and the appealing parts of your opponent’s argument.
Strong Oral Arguments Start With a Strong Factum
It cannot be overstated that the success of the courtroom component of your moot largely hinges on the factum you draft in preparation for it. As you write your factum out, develop a theme through which to present your argument to the judges (e.g. it is in the public interest for the court to find in my favor) and ensure to cover each of the legal issues. Seeking guidance from upper years and professors for refining the structure of the factum and properly listing citations can also improve the final product.