Many of you may read the title of this week’s column and immediately think you had enough of mooting at university. My aim this week is to remind you of the continuing benefits of mooting in developing your advocacy skills outside of your formal advocacy classes.
Firstly, the most obvious point is that mooting once you are on the Bar Course is a whole different ball game. You may have thought you were a good speaker at university, but trust me, you will be at least five times better now – most likely as a result of the gruelling weekly video-recorded advocacy sessions, if nothing else! The BPTC is therefore a great time to continue your mooting experience and try and secure more victories for your CV. Even the most phenomenal speakers at university will improve in some way once they have seen themselves speaking on video during the Bar Course!
The variety of competitions open to Bar students is also different – you are automatically excluded from competitions such as the Inner Temple Inter Varsity moot by virtue of the fact that you are undertaking a vocational course (rather than being a university student). However, you are automatically able to enter different competitions put on by your individual providers and competitions held between the Inns, for example. These competitions bring a whole new level of competitiveness and enable you to pit yourself against potential future colleagues at the Bar. If you are anything like me, you will also feel much more confident and much more able to grasp at networking opportunities that these moots present (at university I was still fairly shy, believe it or not!).
It is worth keeping an eye on announcements by your BPTC provider, as they will often advertise for students to represent them in certain competitions. However, it is also worth doing your own research online – many smaller competitions may not filter through the usual channels, but are often open to individuals or teams representing an institution. Picking up on these opportunities is always valuable and presents another opportunity to test your advocacy skills.
Some chambers also run their own advocacy competitions – either organising them themselves, or by co-ordinating with a particular provider (for example, Outer Temple Chambers ran a civil advocacy competition at Kaplan Law School last year). These competitions are incredibly valuable opportunities, as those who do well and/or win the competitions have already made their mark on Chambers before the pupillage application season begins.
It is also worth pointing out that it is not only mooting that is invaluable as there are all sorts of similar competitions which are equally as useful for your own development – for example debating, civil advocacy competitions, written advocacy competitions… the list is really endless and every different competition adds a different skill to your CV.
Finally – don’t forget that it really isn’t always about winning. Whilst it looks fantastic on a CV to have won a competition (no-one can argue against that), you are not going to lose all the benefits simply by having been a runner-up. Just make sure you make the most of all networking opportunities as well – if a moot is followed by a drinks reception, stay and make the most of being able to talk to the judges and any spectators. Every little bit of feedback helps and anything you learn here can be applied to your preparation for advocacy exams and your future careers.