This post was submitted to Ergo by Anu Shrivastava, a graduate of the 2011-16 Batch of the Gujarat National Law University, and marks the fourth in a series of posts titled, The Journey.
Before I begin, let me provide some perspective. Mooting is an activity that has been very close to my heart. I fell for it the moment I participated in my first intra-batch moot court and only grew up to continue participating in moots. But where did this so called ‘love for mooting’ take me? It led me to participate in 5 moots over the five years of law school (6, if you count the year I coached a University team). However, till date, I have never qualified beyond the elimination or preliminary rounds of a single Moot Court Competition, let alone winning a moot court competition. I can at most boast of a Best Speaker Award and an Honourable Mention for a Memorial. So if I were to answer a question, were all the days of preparation, missing out on chilling with friends, all the effort put in worth it? Would I do things any differently? The answer would still be a resounding yes. The only thing I would change is to participate in more moots if I could. That is how addictive and interesting mooting can get. Once you’ve caught a hang of it, it is really hard to let go.
However, it is not necessary for everyone to like mooting and to make it their religion. It is upto personal preferences and priorities. I know of people who scored really good ranks in intra-round moot courts, did really well at reputed moot competitions and then never continued again because they realised it was not something they enjoyed. Others, like yours truly, continued mooting with little rewards. Beyond the compulsory internal moot rounds, if any, there is absolutely no reason for any law student to moot unless they are interested in it. There are research papers, additional courses, starting a blog, working on a random start-up and activities like sleeping, listening to music or reading books in the time that you would spend n working for a moot. As far as the pressure of having a good CV is concerned, there is no strait-jacketed rule that you must have XYZ number of moots to get yourself a job at ABC Firm. You can make up for the non-interest in moots by showing an equivalent or greater interest in a different activity.
It took us almost 8-9 classes to teach our juniors the basics of mooting and how to go about drafting a memorial. That is definitely beyond the scope of this write up and would be better handled by your institution. Quite honestly, there is not much that can be taught here. Nobody is born a good orator or a brilliant researcher. Sure, there are some who have an inherent charm and flair, but those aren’t enough skills for a moot. One only gets better at it by continuing to do it, learning from it and working on their shortcomings. A friend of mine was ranked in extremely low in the first intra batch moot that we had. But he never gave up and went on to win Speaker Mentions, Best Speaker Awards and represented the University at the World Rounds of Jessup. So teaching how to moot is an inappropriate approach. What I will try to convey here is my experiences while mooting, what I have learnt from it and why I continued doing it.
As far as experiences are concerned, I have made some very good friends while mooting in a team, have met some wonderful people at the moots that I went to, got a picture with Mr. Gary Born at an international moot, got to see a brilliant senior advocate in action as a judge and got to work on some very interesting problems. These experiences however have not always been pleasant. I have at times doubted my abilities, been very under-confident, felt beaten down and known the loss at a competition despite having done my best, even better than other teams that did qualify (as accepted by judges and opponents alike). All in all, I have managed to have more learning experiences at moots when compared to anything else in the university.
Why did I continue doing it? Because it taught me to keep challenging myself, to learn more and to try to do give an honest best attempt at the assignments that I chose. About what I learnt from it, I learnt about the contemporary changes in the legal field, recent controversial topics and some very interesting issues that arise for us lawyers. GNLU’s intra round moot court selection pattern has got a lot to do with whatever I learnt through mooting. We used to have two rounds of internal mooting to determine our ranks on the basis of which we were allotted national or international moots. So if I have done 5 moots in all, I have also participated in about 10 internal rounds of moots. In total therefore, I would have worked on about 10+5, i.e. 15 moot problems, all on different issues, ranging from contract laws, public international law, constitutional law, law of arbitration, IPR laws etc. In doing these moots I learnt much more than what I would have learnt from only attending classes. It has been exponential, the amount of brainstorming that was needed with friends to understand the nuances of a problem, the frustration of being thrown into an unknown legal subject and the satisfaction of having found a solution out of it. These were the reasons why I continued doing it. But most of all, it was because I found some wonderful people with me who were as interested and helped me all along the way with mooting.
Moots are often understood to be something which require good oratory skills and researchers are often played as the underdogs of a moot team. That is a notion that I have never understood. It is more important to have a good researcher than a good speaker because one can eventually hone their oratory skills. But researching is something that comes with a lot more experience, time and practice. The most crucial thing about research is to know the separation between relevant and irrelevant points. Often while researching it becomes difficult to find out if a particular case law will be of help and we end up collecting as much as we can. But it is extremely important to know that a moot court requires specific and relevant information. It is good to do background reading but a good researcher will always be able to make arguments that are on point. Some moots will contain an issue which will be in a much weaker position. It is then upto the researcher (this includes every member of the team) to find that one case-law or scholarly opinion that supports their stand. If not, then find a whole new perspective to the argument, to be seen in a more non-conventional manner. These are again skills that you learn as you continue mooting, like I said, nobody is born a good mooter – orator or researcher.
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