Volume 1, Issue 9 (Originally Published on 30 April 2012)
The practical and legal skills gained from mooting are relatively obvious. However, mooting is also a heap of fun, if approached with the right attitude. Why?
1. Working collaboratively with a small team. In the internal mooting competition, where you have a very limited amount of time to prepare, this can be less obvious - you spend most of the time researching your own particular point, and often find out about your partners material while they present it. However, in external mooting competitions, where you might have weeks or months to prepare, the preparation process becomes very personal and involved.
2. The feeling of achievement in knowing a particular area of the law. Often, moot problems involve arguing over a minute point of law in a great amount of detail. Preparing involves a lot of time spent reading cases that cover that point over and over, with only subtle differences of application. However, it can be incredibly satisfying, when questioned by a judge on an angle, to be able to confidently and succinctly respond to the question. It makes the time spent preparing that much more worthwhile.
3. The opportunity to interact with legal professionals. In the actual moot, under fire from questions you could not possibly have anticipated, and feeling somewhat humiliated when having to admit that you simply do not know the answer, it can be hard to appreciate this. However, a little perspective often helps. Whether internally or externally, the judges are successful and intelligent legal professionals, with years of practice and training, and in oral argument, you are challenging them on complex legal and conceptual points and ideas. Revel in it.
4. The competitive element. This won't appeal to all necessarily, but for those who like to get the competitive juices flowing, this is for you. You're not playing for anything really, so losing comes at no cost, but winning is immensely satisfying. The anxiety when waiting to present, and the nerves while presenting, translate into a big adrenalin boost when accompanied by a win. For me, this is the highlight.
Personally, I have been knocked out in the first round of internal moot twice, and competed in two external moot, a contract law moot and a space law moot, in which we won the whole thing. The external moots are more difficult than the internal one, in that you have to spend a lot more time preparing written submissions - for both, there were several weeks of preparatory work, and at least a week of intensive writing with team-mates.
The benefit of the external moots are probably greater, however. You moot the same problem five or six times, so you get to know the material inside out, and are constantly re-evaluating and changing your arguments (sometimes starting them afresh). You also compete before a panel of judges, rather than a single judge, which can be quite intense, and the calibre of judges is often that little bit higher — in the contract moot, the final judges included Justice Michael Kirby, while the final judges in the space law moot included a Sydney QC.