This article was submitted to Ergo by Samaksh Sood, a student of the Batch of 2015-2020 at the Gujarat National Law Universiy.
Mooting, I was once informed, is a quest for academic excellence, involving sheer perseverance, strategy and application of mind that seeks to answer complex questions in niche areas of legal practice. Mooting, I figured, is like giving a friend proxy attendance in class. Behave too much like yourself, and there is the fear that you will get into trouble; behave too much like someone else, and there is the fear that your falsehood will be called out. In this conundrum between being a legal scholar and a Splitsvilla participant, I had the privilege of picking up Manfred Lachs with two people who have impacted my life more than Suits impacts first-year students.
For context, I shall introduce these individuals. The first is a 5th year student of Gujarat National Law University who is easily one of the smartest people I know. However, his sheer brilliance makes him believe that he is better than the rest of us (Jk he’s very nice). In the interest of his safety, we shall be referring to him as Eastwind.
The second is a 4th year Student of Gujarat National Law University who is also one of the smartest people I know. However, his brilliance is masked by a personality far more annoying than the guy in the Trivaago advertisement (there is no disclaimer here, I live with this guy and I hate my life). In the interest of his safety, we shall be referring to him as Dintu.
Eastwind, Dintu and I picked up Manfred Lachs after more backroom politics and horse trading than a Punjabi kitty party. Now, I could write about all the amazing law that I learnt over a period of 8 months, but I think there are things of greater importance that need to be addressed.
It’s been 6 months since my Manfred Lachs journey ended. My friends complain that I find a way to squeeze it into every conversation. There is truth in their allegations. My Manfred Lachs journey has been the most formative part of my law school life. Picking up this moot with a guy who’s picked up an oralist citation in every moot he’s done and another guy who’s been the semi-finalist and winner of two separate international moots was overwhelming for a 2nd year student whose biggest achievement was that he could spit very far. It was evident soon enough that there was absolutely no need for me worry. Besides the fact that Eastwind and Dintu were nothing but helpful in enabling me to become a mooter, the entire GNLU Manfred Family was there to help us. Two individuals, in particular, were instrumental. One of them is an entire year younger than I am but underwhelms me each time he begins to give his perspective on anything from the consistency of the Wednesday Pani Puri to complex debate motions on Feminism. Having done Manfred Lachs the previous year and winning the Best Oralist of the Asia-Pacific Finals Award in his first year, this individual had all the credentials to guide us through Manfred Lachs. Instead, he stepped in as a friend, during the busiest 6 months of his life to review our drafts with brutal honesty which sometimes made me think if he was actually my friend. Most importantly, he made the 3 of us love outer space. We shall be calling him Mr Tejamn for his safety.
The other individual is GNLU’s own moot legend and the Manfred Lachs godfather. The man took time out his own busy corporate schedule to tell 3 kids how to go about a fake dispute between fake countries on an area of law that a lot of people consider to be fake. The man utilised his 11 pm cab rides not to unwind and relax, but instead, train us for our oral rounds. This individual taught us to strategize, think and remember that while we were doing this for the Manfred Family, we were, more importantly, doing it for ourselves. We shall be calling him Mr George for his safety. There are so many more people who were instrumental and I thank them all. Mooting, you will realise in GNLU is a group activity where everyone, regardless of whether they are your teammate or not, wants you to excel.
Eastwind, Dintu and I went to Adelaide and did not win the Asia Pacific rounds. Hell, we did not even make it to the finals. We crashed out in the semi-finals and were adjudged 2nd runners-up. What I realised in Adelaide is that achievement are secondary. But then again, what is primary? In my limited mooting experience, which is very humble compared to most people I know, I firmly believe that the following things are key:
- Trust your teammates. Your teammates are your family for the duration of the moot. Eastwind, Dintu and I discussed everything from our moot research to our bowel movements. While the degree of comfort is subject to personal relationships, it is paramount that you work in the comfort of knowing that the parts of the moot problem you’re not working on are covered and are as solid as they can be. Eastwind and Dintu never gave me an opportunity for a second doubt.
- Experience counts. This one goes two ways. If you’re doing a moot, understand that the experience of those who have done it before you is key and you need to weigh in their inputs. If you’ve done a moot, understand that your experience can help another team either achieve what you’ve achieved or even surpass what you’ve achieved while having fun.
- Have fun. You will be told that mooting needs hours of effort and undying dedication. While that is true, there is no need that cannot be fun. Plan things out and discuss them with your teammates. Try and learn the body of law and you will always find the answers to the issue.
- It’s just a competition. It is ironic that this is coming from me. But I think it’s important to know that Mooting is just a competition. While it’s important to work hard and do well, it is also important to manage alongside it other obligations and maintain one’s own health.
The reason I share these things is that although Eastwind, Dintu and I did not achieve what we set out to do, Manfred Lachs goes down as one of the best experience of my life. At that point, I think that the few things that I’ve learnt and cherished are worth sharing simply because of the people I interacted with and the friendships that I made. I wish that anyone who reads this takes away something from this.
Now if there is one thing you can be sure of, it’s that nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish. Except an Apache Helicopter. An Apache Helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry. An absolute death machine. (Ted, 2012)
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