What is mooting?
A moot is a mock legal hearing where students play the role of counsel and deliver oral arguments on one or more points of law. Students present their case before a judge.
As part of the presentation of their case, the participating students respond to questions posed by the judge. At the end of the moot, the judge will generally give a short judgement on the particular point of law and then his or her decision as to which student performed the best.
At the School of Law the judge will usually be a member of staff, but occasionally we invite guests as judges including esteemed Alumni. Previous judges for the varsity moot include Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, a current member of the appellate committee of the House of Lords, and Neil Golding, Freshfields partner.
Why should I take part in moots?
Mooting helps you to develop various skills. First, the successful mooter must be able to put together credible arguments based on legal principle and authority: this will require research into, and a thorough understanding of, the relevant area of law. Second, a moot is an exercise in oral argument. You gain valuable experience of public speaking and the opportunity to develop the ability to speak persuasively and articulately. Third, the successful mooter must be able to respond immediately and confidently to questions from the judge; this requires the ability to think on one's feet. As with most things, practice makes perfect: the more you practise, the better you will get.
Clearly, mooting is of particular relevance to students thinking of a career at the Bar. However, the skills that mooting fosters will be of value irrespective of whether a student pursues a career in the law or elsewhere.
Mooting at Leeds
The School of Law at Leeds has a long-established mooting tradition and, now, a purpose-built facility in the Moot Court Room. The Mooting Secretary, a member of the Student Law Society Committee, principally organises the student programme with support from an academic member of staff.
While mooting is not a compulsory component of the law programmes at Leeds -- though the LLB. first year module, Legal Skills, does incorporate similar exercises -- we strongly encourage students to participate. Students have the opportunity to enter internal and external competitions.
Two internal competitions are held each year: one for first year students, the other for second and third years. These competitions generally commence at the beginning of the second semester; full details will be made available by the Mooting Secretary at the time.
External competitions in which Leeds' students have participated include the English Speaking Union/Essex Court Chambers National Mooting Competition and the Jessop International Law Moot Court Competition. In addition, an annual varsity moot takes place against the University of Sheffield. This is held at Lincoln's Inn in London: one of the four Inns of Court.
Mooting is open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. For internal competitions at least, no previous experience is necessary. Students receiving advice and assistance on formalities and technique.
Practising barristers from leading sets of chambers generally judge the finals of the internal competitions.