Moot Court 101: Steps You Can Take to Be Prepared
Moot court participation is a resume “plus” and an excellent way for law students to gain experience speaking in front of other legal professionals. It allows students to learn how to confidently and effectively articulate persuasive legal arguments.
While moot court can be nerve-wracking, there are ways for students to ease their anxieties and boost their confidence before they stand in front of the panel of judges.
Below are some of these ways that may help you to prepare for your day in court:
- Be prepared – practice, practice, practice your argument and anticipate tough questions (practicing in front of a friend, family member, or a mirror is helpful)
- If you cite to a case, be sure to know the important stuff (Is the decision is binding? When was the case decided? How do the facts of that case relate to or differ from the case at hand?)
- Make eye contact with the judges
- Speak slowly, clearly, and maintain a good tone
- Have your notes organized and in one place – a portfolio is always useful
- Make smooth transitions by using more than one transitional word or phrase (e.g. furthermore, moreover)
- Create persuasive themes for your argument and stick to them – this will make your argument clear and easy for the judges to follow
- Be prepared to depart from your “script” – engage with the judges in a meaningful way and welcome their questions
- Don’t be afraid to pause and think of an answer to a question before moving on to your next point (also be sure to actually answer the question)
- Listen carefully for concerns that the judges raise during your opponent’s argument so that you can discuss these concerns during your argument and persuade the judges that ruling in your client’s favor will address and resolve these issues
- Rebuttals – don’t simply re-peat your arguments (see the previous bullet point)
- Don’t take it too seriously – judges are people just like you and were once in your shoes