Lauren Pennycook, fourth year LLB student at the University of Dundee and Vice President (External Competition) of University of Dundee Mooting Society, discusses her experience of mooting at university and the benefits this has brought
“Mooting is the oral presentation of a legal issue or problem against an opposing counsel and before a judge” - Oxford University Press
Although the definition of a moot helps us understand what a moot is, it gives no indication of the key skills and experiences you gain from mooting and that’s what I hope to achieve here.
I remember how terrified I was in the lead up to my first moot. I had never been confident in my public speaking and the idea of presenting legal arguments to a judge having only been at university for three weeks had me shaking like a leaf. Through sheer grit and stubbornness (and a stern talking to by my mooting partner), I made it through my five-minute submission - despite stopping and sitting down twice.
I maybe haven’t convinced you just yet but mooting (or any public speaking for that matter) has helped me massively through university - especially that first experience.
What can you gain from mooting?
You can develop so many different skills from mooting or debating and I don’t want to bore you with a list of all of them, so here’s my top three:
The most important skill I have gained is confidence. The ability to research and present legal arguments to a judge, no matter the level of success, brings a feeling of accomplishment and confidence in your abilities as a law student. However, I wouldn’t limit this to just mooting, any form of public speaking or debating can help to bring about this confidence. As someone who was never a fan of public speaking, I can wholeheartedly say that although I don’t enjoy it, I no longer fear it like I used to.
Research skills is another area I have improved in, after citing incorrect authorities during my first moot. The feedback and support I received following this experience allowed me to develop not only how I researched for moots, but also essays and preparation for seminars.
Communication skills are another obvious benefit to mooting or public speaking. You may have already developed these skills through employment, work experience or university projects. However, mooting refines these skills and enables you to articulate a specific point clearly and effectively, something we all need to be able to do as future-lawyers.
How does this help my career?
The skills you will develop through mooting are all applicable to a career in the legal sector and law firms tend to hold mooting in very high regard.
Communication, confidence and research skills are integral no matter which path your career follows and the commitment you show by participating in mooting or debating activities speaks volumes to employers. It is not only another activity to put on your CV and application forms, but you will hopefully enjoy it and learn from it too!
Where do I sign up?
Hopefully, I have explained the benefits of mooting and public speaking. There are various ways to get involved and I would highly recommend contacting your university’s mooting society for more information on what events they run and what they can offer you as a society member.
What opportunities are there?
As well as being a member of a mooting society, it is worth looking to see if your university has a debating society, or something similar. All of these groups will offer a range of opportunities to students, so it is important to stay up to date to ensure you get the most out of being a member.
My own experiences have also now led me to sign up as a judge in the Law Society’s Donald Dewar Memorial Debate Tournament where I’m now looking forward to helping others develop their own skills.