In a disappointing and painful event this week my partner and I were knocked out of our University's internal mooting competition. In an epic quarter final battle we fought valiantly and won our case on point of law but were however defeated in the moot. To the victor goes the spoils, in this case the opportunity to pass to the semi-final of the competition, competing at the sheriff court in Glasgow. The defeated team takes with them the bitter sting of failure, oblivion, pain and ultimately death, OK I'm over egging the pudding a little but I really hate loosing!
For anyone not familiar with mooting, a moot is a mock courtroom competition where the competitors are given opposing sides of an appeal case to fight before a judge. As the law may be on the side of one of the teams the outcome of the case isn't the deciding factor in who wins the competition, what matters is which team fought the better case. This is judged based on the quality of research, professionalism, presentation, understanding of the law and ability to respond well to judicial questioning. In essence some of the the complex skill set required of the competent QC or Advocate.
The appeal of mooting to a law student is easy to understand, it gives us the opportunity to have a go at being Perry Mason, Denny Crane or Ally McBeal, standing up and arguing a case. That's what it's all about right? Maybe, it's certainly what made me want to give it a try, but what I've found is that there's so much more to it than that. The benefits of taking part in the competition go far beyond having a go at fighting a case and adding something to the CV.
My involvement has taught me about teamwork, and boosted my research skills. It's boosted my confidence in public speaking and court etiquette. For the first few moots I was very nervous, by the time I reached the quarter final however, I found my confidence had grown and I was much more relaxed in delivering my submissions and dealing with judicial scrutiny. By taking the competition seriously, I managed to reach the quarter final which meant lots of research. With the Quarter final place came a trip to the Supreme Court in London, where we were given the opportunity to sit in on two cases (watching senior advocates at work), and then meet and ask questions of Lord Hope. I've also met a great deal of highly motivated, intelligent hard working law students who I hope to count among my colleagues in the not too distant future.
While I was disappointed not to have made it to the semi final, the nature of the competition means that there can be only one winner, and 'my friends across the bar' certainly deserved to win on the day. Not only were they professional, articulate and knowledgeable, but I must concede that they had a little more flair than I as well as being more polished in their presentation. So while my partner and I could've won a semi-final place, based on the things I've learned and the people I've met, I genuinely feel like I'm a winner overall for having taken part, a strange feeling for someone as competitive as I.
Will I take part in the mooting competition next year?
In the words of my favourite Californian politician . . . . I'll be back!