It is a fact that if you want to make it in the legal industry today, particularly if you want to be a barrister, you have to be a good mooter. To some, this will come with practice. To others it may take more time and, to an unlucky few, it never really will. I fell into the middle category of the three at university. Despite not being a brilliant mooter, I knew that I had to get involved in mooting in some way to enhance my CV. With work experience placements and vacation schemes becoming notoriously more difficult to get, I knew that this would go some way in helping me boost my credentials further. But what can a person do to get involved in mooting, despite not being a good mooter? In this article I share my mooting experience to date and highlight other extracurricular mooting activities which aspiring lawyers can get involved in, even if they are not the most gifted mooter, to improve their CV.
Despite not being a brilliant mooter, I knew that I had to get involved in mooting in some way to enhance my CV.
I completed my degree at Birmingham City Universty (BMU), and got involved in mooting from the moment I joined. This didn’t just mean paying to join the society and having no involvement from thereon in – this meant taking part. Due to other commitments, I was unable to take part in the first competition that the society held. I did however, immediately sign up for the second competition, the Internal Moot (sponsored by LexisNexis), as soon as it was available. I joined forces with a close friend and together we formulated what we believed was a good argument. It is fair to say that I was not confident about this. I stood up, took a deep breath and recited what I could remember of my argument to the judges in about 30 seconds. Unfortunately, I had a panic attack and so promptly sat down. It was no surprise that we lost the moot, but I had received some positive feedback from the judges that I listened to and took on board. The feedback was, in a nutshell, to try to remain calm and just ensure that I know my points inside out, so that even if I can’t remember exactly what I was saying, I would still have some idea rather than entirely relying on the notes in front of me.
Later on in the first year I took part in the Inter-Year moot and I’m glad to say this went better. I reached the semi-final with my fellow competitor, but did not make it to the final rounds of the competition. Again, I took on board the comments made by the judges in order to improve my mooting skills for the future.
As part of two modules (Crime and the English Legal System — known as Skills, Processes & Scholarship) my university had an assessed moot which made up part of the overall grade in both modules. I remembered the advice given to me previously when presenting my argument in the moot — I talked a lot slower and clearer. I’d come on leaps and bounds since the first time, getting 70% overall. I was extremely proud of this and felt that without the minor setback I’d had in my first competition, I wouldn’t have performed as well this time around. The only comment made here was that the argument would have been better had the presentation been longer.
Second year soon came around and the first event that the mooting society held was the ‘Balloon Debate’. This event gives participants the chance to take on the role of a famous person, fictional or real, and tell a panel of judges why they should be kept in a hot air balloon that is plummeting to the ground. The character that I picked at random was, hilariously, Marilyn Monroe. Initially, my thoughts were that of horror, but as time went on I embraced the fun side of it and got completely involved.
I was extremely proud of this and felt that without the minor setback I’d had in my first competition, I wouldn’t have performed as well this time around.
In the second and third year I once again got involved in the university’s internal moot competition. Whilst I took on board all comments I had received previously, such as speaking slower, I unfortunately did not make it past the first round. I had generally received positive comments, with the judges noting that I had improved considerably since first year, but that the standard was so high they felt that I couldn’t be put through to further rounds at this stage. It would be fair to say I was a little disappointed by this. I had put in a lot more effort in comparison to the first moot so I thought that I would have more chance. Sadly, because the standard was so high, I didn’t. Although somewhat despondent, I knew that I couldn’t give up and instead I tried to find other ways of getting myself more involved with the mooting community.
Despite not being a part of the Mooting Society Committee officially, I spent a lot of time with the team, getting to know everyone and getting involved in everything they were doing. As I had been involved in so many moots during my time at university, some of the committee felt I was able to take on a judging role, so after my elimination in the first rounds, I judged all subsequent rounds, offering advice and support for those who had made it to the second round and beyond. It was a brilliant experience as I was able to boost my confidence and my overall knowledge of mooting, without actually having to moot. As a result of this I also built up a rapport with the committee and some of the mooters who had been selected to moot externally for the university. From this I learnt to think on my feet with regards to questions for the mooters, which meant that I also had to have a detailed knowledge of the topic being argued. As a result, my researching and analysing skills improved.
…my hard work did not go unnoticed and a position on the Mooting Committee was created for me. I was appointed ‘External Mooting Assistant’…
In addition, I also helped prepare bundles for the external mooters, but more importantly, I listened to my friends’ arguments and gave them feedback, offering advice from a third party. The example that sticks in my mind most is when I helped a fellow graduate prepare for an external moot that she entered herself into. In this round of the moot (hosted and run by Web Legal Education), they were up against Cambridge in the second round of the competition and the law was against them. When the judge announced that she and her partner had won, it really made it worth the time and effort I had spent assisting them. The pair went on to win the competition overall (beating the likes of the University of Birmingham in the first round and the University of Cumbria in the final). As a result, Birmingham City University is now considered to be one of the top universities in the country for mooting. More importantly, on a personal level, my hard work did not go unnoticed and a position on the Mooting Committee was created for me. I was appointed ‘External Mooting Assistant’, which was an honour as by that point I was simply helping friends prepare for their external moots.
As stated above, my university held a moot that went towards part of the final grade. If the same is offered at your university, I recommend you get involved as soon as you can so that you give yourself an advantage when it comes to the graded presentation. However, if you aren’t a gifted mooter, there are — as evidenced by the examples given above — opportunities to get heavily involved within the mooting community without actually having to moot externally for the university. That is not to say that the two examples mentioned are the only ways that you can get involved. The onus is on you to find ways of getting involved, whether that be by mooting, joining the committee, or going out of your way to help others. It’s your education — maximise it to the fullest! Good luck!