Advocacy is a term that you will find popping up consistently throughout your research and applications to chambers. The main question is: how do I improve it?
There are myriad ways to improve your advocacy, not just mooting. This article will consider the benefits of mooting, of course, but I’ll also look to highlight the other ways in which you can increase your advocacy skills that you may have not even thought about.
Firstly, every time you have a conversation, you are advocating. Similarly, when you are trying to convince someone to agree with a plan for the weekend that you want to do, you are advocating. So, the next time you and your friends are trying to decide where to go for the next weekend beverage, try to formulate an irresistible argument that they just can’t say no to.
See? Improving your advocacy is as easy as that.
Another thing to consider is this: read about it. There are loads of brilliant books out there that are brimming with helpful advice on advocacy. Try ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ by Iain Morley QC. It is brilliant.
Obviously though, you can’t get better at advocacy just by reading about it. You have to live it. Eat it. Breathe it. Go on, drink it in. It always goes down smooth.
Take part in debates. See if there are any opportunities to talk in front of crowds. There are many organisations such as Toastmasters and other groups that are solely focused on improving public speaking skills.
If that is a bit too organised for your liking, then get involved when the ‘moot’ strikes you. (See what I did there?) Have you ever been in a coffee shop when the barrista announces a coffee is ready but no-one comes for it? Firstly, that’s advocacy. Secondly, help them out. I’m serious. Do it. Repeat the order. Loudly. With confidence. Even if no-one collects it, you have just advocated. Well done.
Taking opportunities like this, when you can, will help to improve your advocacy when you least expect it. I think this is because little things like this can improve your confidence. Confidence is key when it comes to advocacy. If you are confident in your submissions when standing before a court, moot or otherwise, you will be that much more persuasive.
The above are great little tips to get your advocacy skills up to scratch, but the most important thing you can do is moot.
Do it even if it scares you. Do it especially if it scares you. All the tips in the world will only improve your advocacy to a point if you don’t couple that with the practical experience of mooting itself.
Mooting is a scary thing though. I consider myself to be a confident guy who is rather happy talking to large groups of people and being the center of attention. However, minutes before my first moot, I was pretty much a jibbering wreck. But I got up and did it anyway. And I loved it. I urge you to give it a go. If you are serious about being a barrister then you know you’ll have to do it. So do it.
Ultimately, if you want to be a barrister or a solicitor-advocate then you will be speaking in court. The sooner you start honing yourself into a finely tuned advocacy machine the better. Some of these tips will help you on your way. Applying these tips in a moot will bring you further.
Hopefully this article has elucidated a few little things you can do to improve your confidence and your advocacy alike. Now go forth and advocate!