Mooting History Made: The OULS holds its first mooting event in Scotland
With a heavy mixture of nerves and excitement I look over my hastily scrawled notes one last time before rising to my feet. ‘My Lords, if it pleases the court my name is Joseph Beet, senior counsel for the appellant.’ I am of course not actually senior counsel, nor am I appearing before any Lords or Ladies. I was attending an introductory mooting workshop set up by the OULS. The mooting workshop is designed to aid and guide students as they take their first steps toward advocacy. A moot is a mock appeal hearing based on a fictional scenario, between two teams whom are judged on their legal research and advocacy skills. An extremely popular and important part of the legal experience, this particular workshop was the first to be held in Scotland.
Scotland and the OULS
The OULS has a proud and successful history of mooting. However, most mooting competitions and events have been central to London. With 15,000 Open University students situated in Scotland, at least 500 of which are law students, Lidia Dancu sought to change that. After being elected as the OULS officer for Scotland, Lidia embarked on a quest to arrange the first Scotland centred workshop for mooting. With help from Gwyn Hopkins and Mark Baldwin, together they worked with the OU in Scotland to establish what was to be an extremely well supported and organised event which helped 17 prospective law students get their first taste of court advocacy.
Following a very informative introduction from guest speaker and Depute Director of Planning, Resources and Engagement, Kate Signorini, the workshop began with Mark and Gwyn detailing the many benefits of participating in mooting for law students. Mooting enables a student to greatly improve their legal research skills, advocacy skills, team-working skills and of course looks great on a CV. We were then treated to an exciting live demonstration of a moot in action as Mark made submissions before Gwyn. It was easy to see how Mark had previously blown away moot judges in previous moot competitions such as the Bristol Intervarsity competition, the Times 2TG and ESU Essex Court competitions.
Following on from the live action and a very generous lunch, the workshop was introduced to the correct procedure for oral citations (a lot trickier than it sounds!). OULS members were then treated to an in-depth look into how to approach an original moot problem and the levels of detail required in your research when tackling them. Gwyn and Mark provided excellent tutorage detailing the best ways to approach researching the relevant authorities, and how to correctly present them to the court.
OULS members then discovered how to prepare a skeleton argument, as well as how to prepare court bundles in order to best aid the court (and impress the moot judges!). Finally, to round off the day, it was our turn to be put to the test. Attendees were required to pick a case, surmise it and then submit it to the court, all the while maintaining correct court etiquette. As nerve racking as it could get, it was extremely rewarding and exciting to submit your case to the court. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day and the lessons and experiences gained from the workshop were invaluable for any aspiring law student. There was no doubt in the minds of attendees that this would only be their first taste of mooting and advocacy to come!
I will be taking a new approach to the way I think about my studies”
I felt much better afterwards, and much more confident”
The future of Scottish Mooting
I caught up with Lidia after the workshop and asked what the future looked like for Scottish mooting, after such a successful first workshop. She told me she was proud to have helped bring the opportunity to participate in one of the most important activities a law student can participate in, to Scotland. Going forward she hopes to bring more chances for those in Scotland to participate in workshops, competitions and even perhaps an OULS England v Scotland moot!
It is an exciting time to be an OULS member, and mooting is just one of many opportunities open to us. There a number of events and competitions coming up for any aspiring OULS mooter to take an interest in. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I will certainly be taking up the challenge in the courtroom and I hope to see you all there. Court is adjourned!
A hard earned celebratory drink after a great day mooting!
Joe Beet – OULS News Reporter