How to Win Moot Courts newsletter is here!

Hello everyone!

It’s just a short post to let you all know that How to Win Moot Courts now has a newsletter. If you want to stay in touch, receive news about new articles and advice regarding moot courts, sign up here or through the form at the top right corner of the blog. I promise not to constantly spam your inbox with junk: it’s useful-content-in-regular-intervals-only newsletter 🙂

All the best,

Marek

5 best moots to begin your adventure

If you read the Accepted the challenge? 5 key ingredients to kick-start it post you probably learnt that the first step to participation in a moot is actually… finding one. Googling will be helpful, of course, but as always you will be flooded with results. How to know which competition of the dozens that are out there is best suited for you? I prepared a short list of 5 moots I believe are the best to begin with so that you do not give up the idea of mooting due to overabundance of competitions 🙂

  1. VIS Moot

Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is probably THE moot court from the point of view of the mooting community. It takes place every year in Vienna and gathers around 300 teams from all continents (well – except for the Antarctic), making it the second biggest in the world. The competition has two part: written, where you prepare memorials for claimant and respondent, and oral, where you plead in front of tribunals. The VIS Moot focuses on international commercial law and is supposed to recreate a commercial arbitration proceedings between business partners.

Why is it a good idea to take part in the VIS Moot? Due to its size and subject, it will offer you the best mix of everything I previously pointed out as advantages of moot courts here and here. Moreover, if you come from Asia or Pacific region, it has its branch called the VIS East, taking place in Hong-Kong, but based on the same case and rules.

Since I participated in the VIS Moot twice will prepare a separate set of materials dedicated to it. In the meantime, you can visit its website for more detail.

  1. FDI Moot

Foreign Direct Investment International Arbitration Moot is one of the biggest moot courts in the world. Its venue changes every year (the next, 2017 edition will be hosted by Suffolk University Law School n Boston) and gathers approximately 50 teams. The number of participants is higher, but there are regional rounds in certain regions that teams have to go through in order to qualify. The FDI Moot also has a written and an oral part, but unlike the VIS Moot, it focuses on international investment law and investment treaty arbitration between states and private investors.

You should consider taking part in the FDI Moot especially due to its high level. During this competition you can acquire thorough understanding of international investment law (a vast, yet unlike commercial law, somewhat limited area) and plead in front of top-notch lawyers who often act as arbitrators.

As I took part in the FDI Moot twice (let me boast a bit – even won the 2014 edition) and coached a team for the 2016 edition, I will share a lot of useful information about the competition with you in the future. For now, you can learn more from its website.

  1. Jessup Moot

Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, with over 600 participating teams and over 50 editions, is definitely an institution. The competition is slit in two parts – national elimination rounds and global finals in Washington, USA. This competition a simulation of a dispute resolution between fictional countries before the International Court of Justice – the judicial organ of the United Nations. As (almost) always your task is to prepare a written memorandum and then plead in front of a panel of judges.

Jessup Moot is worth your while since it is best known and probably most accessible. With so many law schools taking part in it, your university might already select a team every year, what spares you the effort of finding teammates and funding on your own. Since public international law is almost always taught at law schools, it is also much more likely you will find someone who could help you prepare for the moot.

Unfortunately, I never participated in the Jessup Moot. However, I have many good friends who did and will rely on their experience to provide you with valuable insight. Before it happens, have a look at their website to decide if you are interested.

  1. A moot which is nearby

The abovementioned competitions are huge international event that are absolutely worth the time and effort they require. However, costs or the need to travel long distances often discourages people from participating. That’s perfectly understandable – students are not the wealthiest creatures on the planet, universities do not always have the resources and fundraising might fail. To mitigate this risk, instead of aiming for a widely recognized event taking place thousands kilometers away, you should opt for something that is next door.

  1. A moot which is local

If you are overwhelmed by or did not make it to a huge competition there is no need to worry.  It is likely that e.g. your university or national bar association organizes a moot. It might be less know for lack of promotion and lower number of participants. Still: ask around, check relevant websites or Facebook fanpages, look for opportunities. A small moot court organized by the university will probably require less time and effort to prepare for it, but let you verify if you actually enjoy mooting.

There are of course many more moot courts out there and most of them are a worthwhile experience. I suggest you started your adventure with an event which is either established and guarantees quality experience or easily accessible and can give you a glimpse of what you sign up for. In any event, take part!

Cheers,

Marek

Accepted the challenge? 5 key ingredients to kick-start it!

The die is cast – you have decided to take part in a moot. However, the decision you make is just the first step. Many more have to follow before you change your mind, find out you have far too little time for it or get dissuaded by your couple. Let’s start with the 5 most important ones!

  1. Find a moot

This is evidently the most crucial part. First and foremost, try to pick a moot that interest you, is relevant for your career plans and feels like a project you will enjoy working on. Ask your friends or professors for recommendations, google a little or check out this post. This will help you see what is out there and what interests you most.

  1. Check eligibility criteria

…and do it before you get too excited. Competitions are always formalized and have their deadlines for registration, payment of fees, etc. It is no use to learn about a perfect moot you would love to take part in if it is already half-way trough. Or, that it only accepts students at a certain stage of their education (and you are not yet/have already been there). Or, that it is limited in scope to one country or continent. So, once you find something, do what every lawyer would and read the rules!

  1. Check your institution’s requirements

To take part in a moot, usually you have to be a student. This means you will be acting within the institutional framework of the establishment you are affiliated with. This can have advantages (like, covering the participation fee with university funds), but implies certain obligations. Universities vary in their approach to mooting, creation of teams and related activities. I have seen everything: from institutions having no clue what a moot court actually is to law schools that require people to enroll a year earlier for a ‘shadow team’, supporting the real team before they get the chance to official take part in the following edition the next year. And it goes beyond that! There are law schools which give people a semester-long leave just to work on the moot and universities that even refuse to spare a room once a week so that a team can meet and work together. In any event, it is important to check if and how your university approaches the moot court you would like to take part in.

  1. Find teammates

As I keep saying, moot court is not a solo act. It is unlikely you will be able to handle it on your own (even assuming you can somehow circumvent most of the rules that require a team, so at least two or three participants, to take part). In consequence, you have to find the right people. Unless your university does it for you by officially recruiting a team, it is often up to you and your friends to organize something on your own. Try to find people who will be equally excited about the idea as you are, motivated to work hard and  just likable – believe me, you will be spending a lot of time together.

  1. Find a coach

Most of the moot courts I know allow each team to have a couch (or even a couple of them). It works just as in case of sport coaches – this guy will not play instead of you, but will help you get things right. I cannot stress enough how useful it is to be coached and will surely elaborate on that in future .posts. What you should is that if it is the first time they have something to do with a moot, they might not have the strictly moot-related know-how. No worries – this is my job to feed you with this kind of information 😉 However, an academic or a practitioner will surely help you with the merits of the case you will be working on.

…and 5 more, in case you are still not convinced.

Hello everyone! In the last post I gave you 5 reasons why mooting is worth your while. However, the benefits go far beyond your personal development. Even if you believe you have mastered every single skill moots are supposed to improve, there is much more they can give you. Fun included.

  1. You make new friends

During a moot court (and its usually rich social programme) you have the opportunity to meet tons of people. Other students, often from all corners of the world, coaches, arbitrators and members of the mooting community are a fascinating crew. You never know when the acquaintances made during a competition might come in handy. Sometimes they also evolve to be long-lasting friendship between like-minded people. Or even more… From what I know, some competitions that have been around for a while already boast first moot babies.

  1. You network with people from the industry

Moot courts, especially the big ones, always attract plenty of professionals. At the university you rarely have the opportunity to talk about your future as a lawyer with someone more or less senior. During a moot you can literally ask every question you have over a beer and get to know real mentors that will shed some light on your path into (or out of) career in law.

  1. You can visit interesting locations…

…and at times someone else pays for it.

Many moot courts are international. They gather teams from all over the world and it is likely they take place somewhere interesting. Furthermore, large moot courts are often accompanied by smaller pre-moots held by teams, universities or sponsors to practise before the main competition.

Before drafting this post I skimmed through my calendar and tried to check where I have been thanks to moot courts. Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Malibu, Madrid, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Frankfurt… Feel like visiting London, Paris, Hong-Kong, Washington, Geneva, Strasbourg? There are moots organized there, too. And although this definitely should not be your primary motivation, I do believe it helps.

  1. You improve your job prospects

Is there anyone out there who has not heard yet that the legal job market is an extremely competitive one? Mooting makes you stand out in the crowd of very similar law graduates. By taking part you demonstrate you are hard-working, dedicated and passionate about law. Everyone wishing to hire you will know you can handle tasks more complex than sending letters, stamping papers and printing bundles.

The bottom line is, in most of the countries I know people who participated and succeeded in these competition are much better positioned to get the job they like.

  1. You make it more likely to make it – wherever it is

Participation in, not to mention winning a moot court competition is a huge achievement. Once you dedicated so much time and effort to something, you definitely should capitalize on that. An LLM programme application? A scholarship request? A research project recruitment? A publication based on the moot case? Take your pick – your chances of getting in or it are always higher when you have something like a moot achievement in your CV.

I hope that now, with  10 reasons altogether, you will not hesitate and willingly start your moot adventure!

Cheers,

Marek

5 reasons why taking part in a moot is worth it…

Law students are busy people. At least, me and my friends used to be when we were still in law school. With so many developing activities  available to us nowadays, it might be hard to choose which is the one we really should prioritise.

Here are 5 reasons (not necessarily in this order of importance) why you should take part in a moot, instead of doing something else.

  1. You get to see and know the law in action

The core of every moot court is the case that you have to solve. You do it roughly the same way as real lawyers do. This is a unique opportunity to use your knowledge in practise and start getting better at it earlier.

Although stark contrast between what academia provides and what industry expects has been discussed a thousand times, many universities and law schools maintain the good old learn-the-code-by-heart attitude. It is your job to take a step further.

  1. You develop your writing skills

In the legal world writing is essential (though rarely covered in the series about lawyers –  far too time-consuming for an action-packed episode). Briefs, contracts, submissions, opinions… You will produce and receive plenty of them, and they do matter.

Once a deal is signed, the language of what you created may decide your client’s fate. Judges and arbitrators who solve a dispute make up their mind about it long before they see you in a courtroom  just by reading your memoranda. Mastering legal writing is crucial and the sooner you start, the better.

  1. You are going to speak better

Speaking in a clear, persuasive, concise and engaging way is a skill few people have. However, most of us will give countless presentations and speeches or participate in multiple interviews and discussions throughout our lifetime.

After a moot court experience you are much less likely to leave your audience sleeping or lost. Moot court oral argument is all about conveying a lot by using few words in a way that makes others feel like listening to you. And I guarantee – lessons learnt during moot courts will pay dividend not only in the courtroom.

  1. You can boost your language skills

In the business environment excellent level of written and spoken English (and often other languages as well) is a must. It applies in particular to the legal industry. And by “excellent” I mean it – there is a huge difference between being able to order a beer in a pub and drafting a complex contract. The best way to learn or improve it is by practise. I have seen many people who did not feel confident with e.g. their English and improved enormously in the course of preparations for a moot.

Even when you practise law in your mother tongue, you need to be fluent in its legal type There are hundreds of memes out there on the Internet mocking the way lawyers talk and think. Well – not without a reason. Your job is to use this language as your tool and be able to explain it to your clients who usually have no clue what it means.

  1. You learn to work in a team

Lack of ability to work smoothly with others allegedly plagues people nowadays, including young, aspiring lawyers. The reasons are not relevant – what matters is that this skills contributes to your success or failure in professional life.

If you want to take part in a moot and succeed, you need a team. You are often required to apply as one, and for a good reason: the amount of work to be done would be impossible to handle for one or even two people, unless they decide not to sleep for a couple of months. Dividing tasks, effective communication, sticking to deadlines, software used to boost team’s performance… You will need to learn how to deal with these issues sooner or later.

These five reasons are by no means an exhaustive list. However, when I think of what my moot courts gave me in terms of professional development, they definitely come on top.

Cheers,

Marek

Starting with the basics: What is a moot court?

If someone asks me what a moot court is, I always answer – the best thing that can happen to you during law school.

More technically and in the widest sense, moot courts  (sometimes known also as mock trials) are simulations of dispute resolution. They try to recreate a real-life proceedings in a student environment.  In other words, you have the chance to become some you probably crave to be: an attorney representing interests of the client.

Moot courts, just like regular proceedings, often involve preparing written memorials for both parties to the dispute and a simulated hearing in front of judges or arbitrators. Sometimes elements of mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution are added.

Moot courts come in all sizes and shapes. They are local, national or international. They can be held in English, Spanish, French, Polish or any other language. May simulate litigation, arbitration or proceedings before international courts, tribunals or institutions. Require a small or a large team of people. Take little time or months of preparation.

This variety might be at times a little overwhelming, but thanks to it, you may basically choose the competition that suits your interests, needs or plans best.

So, that would be it for the definition. If anything is unclear, let me know in the comments or write a message – I will be happy answer all your questions.

Marek