The OUP and the ICCA National Mooting Competition is one of the largest and most prestigious in the country, attracting over 60 teams to start out in the competition each October. Here Clare Weaver from OUP and Chris Kessling from the ICCA discuss the origins of the partnership, the importance of advocacy and the role the competition plays introducing aspiring students to a career at the Bar.
Clare: The mooting competition that we administer today has been running since 1998/99. When OUP acquired publisher Blackstone’s Press we also acquired the mooting competition. It was not until the 2017/2018 competition was underway that OUP approached the ICCA to be a partner. When looking for a partner we wanted someone whose objectives aligned with our own, and for whom the promotion of advocacy is just as important.
Chris: The ICCA is committed to academic and professional excellence for the Bar, one of our principal functions being to provide education, leadership, guidance and coordination in relation to the pursuit of excellence in advocacy. For this reason, partnering with OUP to facilitate competitive mooting and the skills of advocacy was in perfect alignment with our values.
Clare: The partnership came at the right time for the competition. It was 20 years old and in need of boost. The ICCA certainly gave us that, not least because the final - held in the dramatic surroundings of the Inns of Court, in front of a prestigious and significant judge - became something all entrants aspired to reach.
Chris: Our relationship with the Inns and with the Bar is at the heart of what we do. The ICCA is proud to work so closely with the profession, both barristers and the judiciary, as well as many other academics and legal professionals. That senior members of the judiciary are willing to give up their valuable time to judge the OUP/ICCA moot final, and that the Inns are willing to accommodate the final in such prestigious surroundings, bears testament to this close relationship. Since the partnership, we have also been very pleased to bring an additional prize element for the winners of marshalling, yet another excellent opportunity to experience and enhance the skills of advocacy.
Clare: Mooting has come in and out of fashion at law schools, sometimes it is presented as a core part of the law degree, and at other times it is very much seen as an extra-curricular activity. With the drive to equip students with employability skills (regardless of the career they aspire to) mooting is just lately enjoying a resurgence. As HHJ Joanna Korner CMG QC (judge 2018/19) said: “Advocacy is one of the more difficult arts, but one of the most useful.”
Chris: Advocacy is a crucial skill at the Bar and one which you never stop developing. During the time that the ICCA has worked alongside OUP, the Bar training regime has changed and in September 2020 we started the ICCA Bar Course. Developing and refining advocacy skills forms a large part of Bar training, and we are able to work closely with students who aspire to a career at the Bar. We are proud that our students have achieved such outstanding assessment results and pupillage success, and especially delighted that previous winners have chosen the ICCA as their preferred Bar training provider, allowing us to follow their journey from the OUP/ICCA moot to their first day as practising barristers.
Clare: It’ll be interesting to see how the competition continues to develop and evolve. Who would have thought we would have had to adapt to virtual mooting recently? I hope that the ICCA will continue the journey with us, as we watch today’s students demonstrate a skill as old as the English language.
Chris: We are as excited to continue the journey with OUP now as we were when we first started working together. That virtual mooting took place simply demonstrates that we are willing and able to adapt to circumstances as and when required. Working together with OUP to provide a platform for students to demonstrate their hard work and considerable advocacy skills has been, and will continue to be, an absolute privilege.