Hello and welcome again to the written advocacy series! In the previous post I described the mindset I believe is best when you sit down in front of the screen to begin drafting. However, even before you start working on your winning memorandum in the first place, it is necessary to lay foundation for it. In this post, you fill find a short checklist to go through before you actually put the first sentence on paper. It will help you avoid silly mistakes, work efficiently and ensure your hard work on the merits is not wasted:
- Learn the rules of the competition
Moot courts are conducted in accordance with their specific rules. Depending on a competition, they impose certain requirements that your written submission will have to meet. Most often they specify its obligatory parts, set a maximal number of pages or words, font size and type or team-related information that must or must not be included. Not following these requirements is often heavily penalized, from lowering your score to disqualifying your memorandum altogether. Luckily, making sure you get everything rights is easy – you just need to know the rules and check compliance. Be diligent and do not lose points the silly way!
- Create a schedule and follow it
Preparing a moot court memorandum is by no means a quick process (especially if you really want to produce something remarkable). It is far more convenient to have an internal calendar with specified deadlines for subsequent versions of the memo. At the very beginning of the competition arrange it with your teammates and do stick to it. This way you will know if you start lagging behind, guarantee the final deadline is met and that your memorandum is constantly being reviewed and improved. There is nothing worse than waking up two weeks before the deadline just to realize you barely scratched the problem.
- Choose platform you will use to communicate and share files
Producing a written submission is a complex team effort. It will require a great deal of cooperation, frequent exchange of research, files, comments and information. In future posts I will explain which tools and why I recommend as adequate for moot court purposes. For now, I recommend choosing one communication channel (be it a Googlegroups-based platform, Facebook group or some internal tool provided by your university) and one cloud disc for storing data in an organized manner (be it Googledisc, Dropbox or other application to share .doc and .pdf files). And, I could not stress it more, just one. Multiplying channels generates miscommunication, conflict and inefficiencies, the greater the bigger your team.
- Appoint a chief editor
Every moot court team needs one expert in MS Word or other text editor. Period. Everyone who thinks that it only takes to copy-paste 5 or 6 separate parts into one file to produce a coherent, correct and esthetically appealing memorandum is wrong. In fact, from the very beginning you should choose a person who will be able to compile parts of the memorandum, check compliance with the moot rules, create tables of content and other relevant/required parts of the memo. Believe me, it will pay off: there is nothing worse than an excellent, persuasive piece of legal analysis that refuses to format properly mere hours before the deadline for submission. To avoid it, you need a competent person who will go through the whole process several times in the course of preparing written submissions to do excellent job exactly when it is necessary: when you compile and submit the final version.
- Select a fixed date for regular team meetings
It might be obvious and self-explanatory, but it will be necessary to meet on regular basis, read, discuss and correct the memorandum together as a team. If you fail to establish a date at the beginning of your preparations, it is more than likely you will fail to do it altogether with bad consequences for the quality of your memorandum.
Hopefully these easy steps will help you go smoothly through the drafting! Next posts in the series are coming soon.