The Oxford Dictionary describes a moot as ‘a mock judicial proceeding set up to examine a hypothetical case as an academic exercise’, which sums up the premise of mooting pretty well. However, if you have never come across the activity of mooting before the whole thing can seem pretty silly. When I told a friend about mooting, she thought I would be dressing up in silly white wigs with flowing black gowns, arguing, shouting and banging gavels. Although she also believes unicorns exist…
I have never mooted, however I have wanted to partake in a moot since the first year of my law degree. I have attended two moots as an on-looker to watch and take notes but the ‘ins and outs’ of mooting confused me, so I couldn’t wait to attend the OULS annual mooting workshop in Bloomsbury on Saturday 5th September. I had no idea what to expect, and if I’m honest, I was looking forward to the pre-planned social meet-up afterwards more than the idea of spending my summer holidays in a classroom. I was however pleasantly surprised!
After a brief trip to the supermarket to pick up some refreshments, I arrived at the University of Law’s Bloomsbury campus shortly before 10am to help set up. I was unsurprised to see Ashley (OULS Mooting Co-ordinator) suited and booted, Abi (OULS Chair) looking as professional as always and Sophie (OULS Careers Co-ordinator) looking like she had stepped out of the set of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, however my attire was less than desirable after forgetting half of my 2-piece suit (as well as losing my integrity and contents of my wallet, the night before in a Camden pub).
The mood was quiet, the sound of carpet could be heard rustling under the 20+ strong attendees, and pens clicked in both anticipation and nervousness of meeting other OU students for the first time. The silence was soon quashed after we lassoed the lost late comers, and commenced proceedings. Abi’s chatty nature quickly put everyone at ease, and Ashley’s dangerous white board pointer soon got everyone talking by the first break (aided somewhat by my lack of social boundaries which would only worsen at the social meet-up afterwards).
Joined by long-time supporter and member of the OULS Catherine Flint (interview to follow), Ashley and Abi split the group into two and taught us all about mooting. Most of us had never mooted before nor knew what mooting involved, but everything was covered including drafting skeleton arguments, courtroom etiquette, mooting competition rules/regulations, legal research tools, tips for gaining maximum points and much more. I came away with eight A4 pages full of notes as I am sure everyone else did, and I could have easily made more if I wanted to. There was an incredible amount of information presented extremely well by the two stars of the show, Abi and Ashley.
After they had finished teaching us how to win every moot we enter (fingers crossed), we were extremely lucky to hear from Catherine who was, and is, awe-inspiring. Not only is she a long term supporter of the OULS and former OU student, but she nailed her degree and BPTC, won her very first moot with present OULS Vice Chair Fathi Tarada and secured pupillage at Queens Square Chambers, all whilst holding down a job and giving birth! With BPTC graduate rates of securing pupillage as low as 4%, I found it extremely comforting to know that OU graduates can, and will, achieve their dreams of becoming top barristers and solicitors if they put their mind to it, despite not coming from an Oxbridge university. She fielded lots of interesting questions from the attendees and really gave us something to aspire to.
…And then there was the aftermath, the social meet-up. By this time, everyone was in need of a light beverage, so we trotted off (some at a faster pace than others) to the local pub so that we could mingle with one another in a social setting for the first time. After a few whiskies, ciders and glasses of wine, the decibel level increased and the intelligent standard of conversation lowered to my sort of level. We discussed future social events including a Halloween fancy dress party in October and a true student social-meetup in Portsmouth at the end of September.
If you were in attendance at the mooting workshop, you will have no doubt enjoyed yourself, and by the number of attendees who have expressed interest in the Internal OULS Mooting Competition (to take place on the 31st October – see here), I can only say that everyone gained an incredible amount of information and had a great time, I know I did! I cannot wait to see everyone again, so please look out for me across social media, and drop me a message on the email below.
If you would like to know more about the Internal OULS Mooting Competition and/or wish to view the slides and material that was used at the workshop then please find more information HERE or contact Gwyn and Ashley by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to know more about future social events, or even suggest a location to hold a social event near you, then please contact James at email@example.com.