As law students (especially those who are/were actively involved in advocacy) we would be familiar with the word ‘moot’. A moot is a fictitious judicial proceeding set up to examine a hypothetical case whether civil or criminal in the appellate court.
Mooting serves as a platform for law students to develop themselves in becoming better lawyers upon Call. It is also an avenue for law students to build and sharpen their oratory and advocacy skills which is the crux of being a legal practitioner. It is essential in enhancing advocacy, research and writing skills. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate interest in advocacy and competence as an advocate to prospective employers. Most students find mooting to be intellectually rewarding and highly enjoyable. It can be tedious and frustrating but it is a lot of fun and knowledge gained.
Tips for becoming a Better Mooter.
Firstly a mooter must have participated actively in the research. Although there are people who are blessed with a good memory and can memorize the whole argument in just a few hours or days (the la cram la pour people). This will not suffice in a moot because the judges may stop you at any point in time to explain certain claims or position to them. You may know the law but if you do not understand its application in your brief that’s a flop. This also bring me to the fact that a mooter must be conversant with the facts of the case, as this goes a long way in showing that he knows his case well.
Secondly, a mooter must be confident in his presentations, he must avoid any atom of uncertainty, do away with fidgeting, avoid making faces or sigh when your opponent is speaking or when the judge is talking. Always remain composed and appear confident even though you think your opponent has clinched the argument.
In order to display confidence one must be organised, have a well-structured argument, let it flow. Be calm but don’t be sluggish or too fast, maintain a steady pace. Show the court that you are in control of your argument and you know what you are doing by guiding the court through your argument in an organised manner. Trust me it goes a long way in establishing your confidence and persuasiveness.
Ingenuity is one quality that a mooter must possess, it means the ability to think fast and on the spot, and it displays the initiative and resourcefulness of a person. This quality would mainly come into play where there is a judicial intervention (when the judges stop the counsel to ask a question) in the argument. In such a situation a good mooter would answer the question smartly and use his initiative to decide whether it is necessary to continue with the point he was making before the intervention or to proceed to another argument. There is no exact formula in such a situation; if the counsel has made the relevant point in that issue and there is not enough time, he should see this intervention as an opportunity to move to the next issue, that is, if the question bothers on an issue he has not yet addressed. A good mooter must be flexible around his brief in order to accommodate the breaks and pauses but must be organised in doing so.
A mooter must be articulate! A good command of the English language is no doubt a plus for the counsel; he should be able to speak clearly, fluently and must also be audible. A mooter must also control the tone of his voice; you don’t want to be aggressive with the judges. Foul, informal and profane language should be excused. Also, he must avoid being monotonous with his voice, let your voice flow with your words, it’s a powerful tool in convincing the judges, go high and low when necessary. The pitch of your voice goes a long way in persuasion.
Finally, the climax, having spent all this time impressing the judge with your knowledge of law and fact, it would be a waste to just fad out or finish without concluding properly. This is where you get to make meaning of your long and maybe boring argument, at this point you should ensure that you stress your words in such a way that the court knows you are about to conclude so that apt attention can be paid to your conclusion(this should not be mistaken for the Prayer). Get the attention of the judge and then make your conclusion. Do not muddle up your point or rush, be calm confident and organised especially when concluding. At this point you must attain the peak of your confidence and persuasion. Just believe that the only thing that the court would remember is your conclusion. It should be the most powerful part of your argument. Leave the stage when the applause is the loudest!
In vain have you acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others. Deuteronomy Rabbah.
Feel free to contribute to this write up by adding more tips to the comment section. See you next Thursday and Thank you.
Aisha Salami is a law graduate of Lagos State University awaiting to be admitted to the Law School.
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