This is not going to be a blow-by-blow account of what did and didn’t go wrong as four first-year GE LLB students from City Law School were heard by Lady Hale in the Supreme Court.
After a long and anxiety-ridden lead-up to the final, it did of course have to happen. I kept wishing myself beyond Wednesday without having to actually live through it. But as I watched my learned senior’s courage as she met the challenge head on, I could tell that I was about to jump aboard and set out inexorably for a train crash.
Ah, mooting. I sometimes wonder why I subject myself to such tension and heightened emotions. Perhaps it is like getting on a scary rollercoaster. Apparently I keep saying ‘never again’, yet there’s something that keeps me going back. So, did I have that fantastic adrenaline rush when you get off the ride and say ‘Again, again!’?
Well, let’s just say that it’s taken me three days to stop licking my wounds and even consider getting back on. I found some wise words to hold on to, by Colin Wynter QC in The Path to Pupillage:
You will have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and head on to the next case. The self-confidence found in most barristers is a necessary trait, since most barristers work alone and must find encouragement from within.
One of my almost-as-bruised competitors suggested we drag ourselves out of bed and misery, head off to the Cittie of Yorke for lunch and a pint, and a stroll through Gray’s Inn to remind ourselves of the reasons we willingly went through such a traumatic ordeal.
I thought the anticipation and nerves of the build-up would be worse than anything that could actually happen in the moot itself. Alas, no. I realise I’m sounding terribly dramatic, but the consensus was (from the various spectators and other competitors I have since spoken to) that it was gruelling and unlike anything they expected either. I have been reassured that the grilling we went through was tougher than anything we’re likely to experience in any future moot, or maybe even in court! Lady Hale herself admitted that she never intervenes quite so much as she did on this occasion.
I’m not an especially competitive person. This competition was not about winning in the least. It was about grasping the basics, listening to feedback, practising newly acquired skills, learning from mistakes and possibly even having a bit of fun.
In the absence of any specific or detailed feedback, I cannot honestly say that I learnt anything new about how to moot. Everything I learnt was about myself: the personal challenges I will have to confront if I ever want to moot again; the faith I will need to find from within to get through law school; and more importantly, the personality traits I will have to harness if I still want to pursue my new career and go to the Bar.
For now, I’ll just go to the bar.