23 January 2015
* a moot court

Reading for a law degree at Lancaster involves more than just studying the law. Extra-curricular activities are something that your lecturers will emphasise the importance of from the very beginning of your studies and one easy way to do so is join the student Law Society. There are many ways you can develop your skills profile by getting involved in activities run by the Law Society such as mooting and negotiations, or through opportunities such as the Innocence Project.

I entered the mooting competition to gain a practical legal experience and to meet new people, as each team includes a good mix of people.

Mooting might be an unfamiliar term for most of you. Mooting is a simulated appellate court proceeding based on a hypothetical case, written by a lecturer, solicitor, barrister or judge. It is a great way of learning how to prepare arguments, develop legal research and advocacy skills and play lawyer.

As a first year student, the amount of preparatory work for the moot was a lot more than I had expected, and something that I had to get to grips with quickly. Having to find and read cases to support your arguments, preparing your speeches and creating case ”bundles” was not something I had expected to have to do. Although mooting is quite demanding and time consuming, it is really rewarding, as you push yourself to improve your legal skills.

It does not all rest on one person’s shoulders though. Mooting teams are made of between three to five members so the workload can be distributed, allowing you to really strengthen your team working skills. Basically it’s there to get you ready for the big, bad world.

As lead counsel I would have to speak for 12 minutes (Lancaster University Student Law Society mooting rules), a junior counsel would speak for 8 minutes, and if you’re lucky enough to be a spectator you don’t speak at all. Still, this was a daunting idea. The moot itself was perhaps the only moment where I questioned what I had got myself into. The main thing I realised from my first moot was that speaking for 12 minutes goes much faster than you expect, try to remain calm and remember to highlight quotes in all the bundles (especially the bundle you give to the judge).

The best part of the moot was when the Judge himself commented on how good and professional looking our skeleton argument (a brief outline of what your arguments are) was, which gave me a real confidence boost for the next round. A number of the judges were from the regional County Court, and their feedback was very useful, and much appreciated.

Finally looking back at my first moot experience, I realise how beneficial it is to take the opportunity to make mistakes at such an early stage. Not only will listening to feedback on what you could have done better help you to progress in the competition, but you also feel more confident for your moot assessments on the law course. Having had this opportunity at the beginning of my studies will allow me to reflect and improve on my skills.

Taking advantage of opportunities like this will not only strengthen your CV but will assist you in your learning and legal skills development.

Simply put, would I recommend mooting to other students? The answer would be certainly yes.