This really is a must. You want to be an advocate, so go and advocate. All Inns run competitions. Usually one main competition, like Middle Temple’s Rosamund Smith, but various other opportunities throughout the year.
City Law school runs one annual competition for both the GDL and the BPTC, as well as one for LLB, GELLB and LLM students: The City Scholars Moot. Inn moots and CLS moots are HARD! They require a huge amount of work on top a huge workload. But my god, is it worth it! Your legal research skills will be fully engaged. You will attend mooting workshops, informing of the cardinal sins such as “I think”. You will become familiar with judicial intervention and how to pre-empt and reassure a judge on the law. This can be incredibly rewarding. Judges will ask testing questions and if you get it right you feel like you will be flying home, not crammed on the tube with an armpit in your mouth. I was surprised at how many of my contemporaries’ attitudes were “Can’t be arsed! This course is busy enough!”
Remember how many applcations chambers gets! Someone who got to a semi-final of a big annual moot will look better than he or she that did not! Chambers are going to discriminate applications against other applications and those that moot impress. Even if you don’t get far, you have tried and you have learnt. That will still go in your favour.
Never say “I think” in answer to a judge question. Why do they care about your opinion? You TELL the judge what the case is based on solid argument and analysis of the law. You tell the judge how to interpret it. You don’t tell that you think the law is X,Y or Z.
NEVER “um and ah”. That is what toddlers do. It looks silly. And it shall make you more nervous. The best way to deal with a tricky question that you can’t bat off right away is to say “May Your Honour give me a few moments/ a moment”? They will. They will appreciate you want to think and formulate a relevantly persuasive answer. Don’t just vomit back something for the sake of being quick. This applies to Pupillage interviews, also. It happens in court often enough!
Don’t behave like Andrew Lloyd Webber: You are not auditioning to PLAY a barrister. This is not an acting workshop. Don’t wave your arms about, thinking a Brian Blessed impression will force the judge into seeing you stance. Dramatic advocacy detracts from the spirit of what you are advocating. Let your well-researched and well prepped argument do the work.
Speak clearly and concisely. Keep your arms on the lectern or by your side. I am not suggesting you stand there like a sloth. But you want the judge to focus on what you are saying. Make sure your bundle is PRISTINE! You need to make it as user friendly for the judge as possible. Make all relevant passages from transcripts are highlighted, paginated and direct him to them Cleary, making sure he is where he needs to be. Guide him. You are being timed, remember, so don’t faff about trying to scrabble for the right passage.
Do not RUSH! You will not get points just for getting to the end of your submissions. The moot judge will not care. Of course, time keep, and if you are running thin on time, then simply direct the judge to a more significant argument in your skeleton argument.
Guide the judge through your skeleton argument by referring back to it. Keep it simple and clear and make sure he is with you as you go through it. “If I can direct His Lordship to paragraph 4 of my skeleton argument, I address XXXXX”. Otherwise what is the point of writing a skelly?
Your moot judge will read your skeleton argument beforehand. You will not win simply by having a pretty skeleton argument. At the same, he or she does not want to be battling with a War and Peace sized bundle. Buzz words of the day: Chronology (if needs be), clear, concise, easy to follow and manageable.
There is a section on all pupillage applications: Olpas and Non-Olpas. Do you want yours to be the one with a blank section? No!
You can also look to enter mooting competitions outside of the Inns of Court and City Law School. There are some nationwide opportunities out there if you do not get a chance at City or your Inn.
IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT LAW, LAW, LAW!