Moot Court Advocacy Series – Season I: ‘Written Advocacy’, Episode VII: ‘The Great Dos 2’

Hi everyone! Today we further explore the features of your written submission that should be included and made visible. Ready, steady, go!

  1. Make it interesting

A written submission is not (and should not be) a novel. However, it does not mean it should bore the reader to death. There is a couple of tricks you can use to make your memorandum more compelling and, as a result, more convincing.

a) Avoid repetition

Readers of your memorandum should be constantly provided with new circumstances and reasoning that support your case. You have few words to use, they have little time to read. Thus, on their path through your memo they should feel they are constantly exploring new aspects of the case. What happens if they are not? Firstly, you waste their time going back to issues that have been already explained. Secondly, your bore them and encourage to skip entire paragraphs. Lastly, you become less persuasive, since constant repetitions signal that you lack arguments. In consequence, if you feel like adding “as explained above” or “as already mentioned” all the time it means something is wrong with the structure of your argument or your memorandum.

b) Vary phrase length

Using phrases of different length can create dynamism and reader-friendly pace. Mixing short and long phrases will naturally make your text flow. And obviously, a piece that is easy to digest will be more persuasive. Just remember to keep sentences reasonably short and not too complex (between two- and three-part sentences should work) and use the really short and simple ones to underline your position, key arguments or crucial facts.

c) Think of ‘fancy phrases’

The line between being too abstract or flamboyant in terms of style and writing a captivating, diverse memorandum that turns the case into a compelling story is thin. However, it is absolutely worth exploring. Balancing between the ordinary or dull and the colourful or gripping takes practice and might be especially difficult for non-natives. To look for inspiration, read a couple of real-life memoranda, for example from the sources mentioned here. You might find sentences and analogies that can deliver a real punch in your written submission Make active use of dictionaries, look for synonyms and try to enrich your style. An elegantly expressed thought or argument will resonate better with arbitrators.

  1. Remain coherent

Coherence is an important feature that translates into persuasiveness and credibility. You should not argue contrary approaches towards an issue unless you have strong grounds to explain the difference in circumstances that justifies it. For example, it is evidently incoherent to argue for the purpose of your first submission that previous judicial decisions have precedent value and the tribunal must not take them into account and all of a sudden, for the purpose of another point, that they are entirely irrelevant and should be disregarded. The risk of appearance of such inconsistencies depends on the case you are dealing with. However, always check how one line of reasoning impact the rest of your arguments. You are making your opponents a huge favour if you invalidate your own position!

  1. Cite your facts, your law, your cases and your authorities

Remember the part about the need to do quality research? Well, here it comes! Your argumentation has to be supported by a steady flow of facts from the record, as well as cases and authorities that support your argument. Although you do not need to provide a footnote for every statement you make, but key facts you invoke should be mentioned so that inquisitive arbitrators can immediately go back to the case and see it with their own eyes. Simultaneously, cite cases and authorities that support your reasoning or position. Usually, unless you have a particularly juicy quote, a simple footnote pointing to your source and paragraph or page is enough. Remember to be reasonable about the way you use them – there’s no point in arguing that a principle is ‘widely accepted’ in case you only have a case or two that back this statement.

Hope these ‘dos’ will help you produce a memorandum that has all the necessary features to receive high scores. In the next episodes we will look at ‘dont’s’ – everything that should be eliminated from your written submission in order not to spoil the good impression you make with the dos!

All the best,

Marek

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