Spotlight on Mooting: Expert Tips for New Mooters
By Glenn McAleer
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lisa, a University of Calgary JD Alumni currently articling at a large firm in a Calgary office. Lisa and I talked about her mooting experience, and she was able to provide some helpful insight for those interested in mooting.
Do you have any general tips for new mooters?
My number one tip would be to try it! A lot of people fear mooting or public speaking when they first get into law school, but there are a lot of low-risk opportunities for you to try mooting, especially in 1L. Give it a go! It will be scary, but everything worth doing is scary, at least at the beginning. If you’re a practical learner like me, you may learn more in a moot than sitting in a lecture hall. Even if the moot isn’t in an area of law that interests you, I recommend participating. You learn a lot of transferable skills, gain access to coaching from top notch lawyers, and have the ability to build close connections with your peers.
For practical tips, my best advice is to ensure you properly roadmap – at the beginning of your submissions, state what it is you will talk about “A, B & C” Then, talk about those points and at the end say “as I have discussed A, B & C, that concludes my submission.”
Some people get caught up heavily citing specific sections of legislation. It’s easier to have a specific signal term that you can refer to during your moot. For example, saying “The weapons prohibition section” as opposed to “section 123 of the Criminal Code.”
You mentioned getting over the initial fear of mooting. What other valuable experiences did you have or what skills did you develop during your time mooting?
Mooting forces you to be able to communicate what you need to get across concisely, efficiently, and clearly. When people first get into law school, they get caught up with the idea that they need to use big words and Latin phrases, but often you can use fewer words, and mooting forces you to do that.
Mooting also teaches legal research and preparation as well as thinking on your feet – you need to know enough about your position and the cases to answer the questions quickly, citing the correct law that applies.
What was your favourite moot and why?
I competed in the Gale cup moot twice, and I loved them both for different reasons. The first time I was a researcher. It was a lot of work, but going to Toronto to compete was a fun experience. As the researcher I got to sit back, relax, and cheer my team on when we got there. My second Gale cup moot was online. The format was less exciting but going through the process of being in the hot seat where judges fire questions at you and being able to respond because you really know your case was a lot of fun as well.
Going through a tough moot with lots of questions can make you feel unsure about how you did. To me that’s the same feeling you get when you do a hard workout, and you may feel unsure whether you were doing the right thing or if your muscles are going to kill tomorrow, but that workout makes you stronger and gives you the skills to perform better next time.
What other complications does the online format provide for mooters?
External distractions are a complication. I was doing submissions for an assignment a couple days ago and my cat jumped up on the desk and got in view of my camera. When you’re mooting in person you really get the feeling that you’re there, you’re in a different place, at a courthouse where wonderful and experienced lawyers have given their submissions before. That puts you in a different mindset. When I went to Toronto for the Gale cup it took place at Osgoode Hall, where the Ontario Court of Appeal sits. It’s a cool location with tile floors and pictures of past judges, and it makes for an incredible experience. When you’re at home in front of your webcam you don’t get that same feeling and it doesn’t put you in the same mindset. I hope that students currently in law school get the opportunity to moot in person, it is a totally different experience.