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What is mooting?

Mooting is the oral presentation of a legal issue or problem against an opposing counsel and before a judge. It is perhaps the closest experience that a student can have whilst at university to appearing in court.

Oxford Dictionaries Moot Trivia:

The word 'moot' can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon era of British history when a 'moot' was the meeting of prominent figures and nobles from the local society to discuss matters of regional importance.

What it isn’t

Sometimes it is mistaken for a mock trial, but mooting differs as it assumes that the evidence has already been tested and focuses on practising speech and the ability to argue the question of law, whereas mock trials exist to ‘test the evidence’ and establish the case’s facts before presenting them in a real court of law.

Why should I get involved in mooting?

Mooting now forms a compulsory part of certain law courses, but is still a totally voluntary student-organised activity in other law schools. Whether or not mooting is compulsory at your law school, gaining mooting experience can have a positive impact on your future career.

The legal profession is an increasingly difficult one to enter, and some application forms even demand that a candidate can provide evidence of their advocacy or mooting experience.

Mooting will also help you to build confidence in public speaking, general research, and presentation skills, which are useful skills you can transfer to most careers.

But don't take our word for it: this video asks four students to share what they learnt by getting involved in mooting.

How is mooting done?

The Problem
A typical moot problem is concerned solely with a point (or points) of law. Normally it will take the form of a case heard on appeal from a lower court with the grounds of appeal clearly stated.

The Teams
A moot usually consists of four speakers, divided into two teams, each consisting of a leading and junior counsel. One team represents the appellants, the other the respondents. Mooters may be judged individually or as a team.

The Moot Court
The moot 'court' should reflect, as far as possible, a courtroom scenario in reality. The moot is presided over by at least one judge who delivers a judgment at the end of the moot on the law and on the result of the moot itself. The presiding judge is supported by the clerk of the moot who also times the moot speeches. The two teams of mooters sit at separate tables, taking turns to stand to present their arguments to the moot court.

A moot 'speech' will normally have a time limit of between 15 and 20 minutes. So be prepared to be on your feet, either presenting your argument or answering questions about your argument, for that amount of time. For the duration of their arguments the mooters are required to maintain the appropriate courtroom manner (remembering, amongst other things, to address the court and fellow counsel in the accepted form).

Organising a mooting competition

Most law schools will have a student committee, one member of which will be responsible for mooting. This central figure has traditionally been given the rather curious name of 'master (or mistress) of the moots' at many law schools. This may be the person to make initial contact with in your law school. Alternatively, a member of staff may co-ordinate mooting activities. Either way, most law schools will have up-and-running internal mooting competitions and also enter teams in external inter-university competitions.

Further information

The books highlighted on the essential resources page all contain useful information on how to moot successfully, setting up a competition, where to go for help and examples of competition rules and skeleton arguments.

Make sure you consult our tips on mooting for extra hints and help on being the best mooting team.