Moot Court newbie questions

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z0rk
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Moot Court newbie questions

Postby z0rk » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:12 am

I signed up for my school's 1L moot court competition and I was wondering if there are any helpful resources for moot court prep/strategy/oral argument. I would welcome any advice as to how one can best prepare for a moot court oral argument.

Thanks in advance, and good luck with finals.

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DocHawkeye
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Re: Moot Court newbie questions

Postby DocHawkeye » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:18 am

Most moot court problems are based, at least in part on, actual cases. If you can find the case your problem is based on, you can look up some of the filings in WestLaw Next often including the briefs. This will make your research much easier. Also, a good oral argument is a conversation with the judges. Avoid things that make it feel "speechy" - this isn't a speech competition - but know your stuff so well that you can simply explain your case to the panel. Finally, panels are swayed by the logic of your argument, not emotional pleas or rhetorical flourishes, so avoid these.


Good luck! Have fun!

Citizen Genet
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Re: Moot Court newbie questions

Postby Citizen Genet » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:20 am


Citizen Genet
Posts: 516
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:03 am

Re: Moot Court newbie questions

Postby Citizen Genet » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:21 am

DocHawkeye wrote:Most moot court problems are based, at least in part on, actual cases. If you can find the case your problem is based on, you can look up some of the filings in WestLaw Next often including the briefs. This will make your research much easier. Also, a good oral argument is a conversation with the judges. Avoid things that make it feel "speechy" - this isn't a speech competition - but know your stuff so well that you can simply explain your case to the panel. Finally, panels are swayed by the logic of your argument, not emotional pleas or rhetorical flourishes, so avoid these.


Good luck! Have fun!


I will add that if your competition is happening 1L year, there's a good chance your problem will be a "closed universe" where the team gives you the cases you are permitted to use and read. If that is the case, you will likely not be allowed to look up the briefs. Check your tournament rules before following through on DocHawkeye's excellent advice.

z0rk
Posts: 328
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:11 pm

Re: Moot Court newbie questions

Postby z0rk » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:33 am

Citizen Genet wrote:
DocHawkeye wrote:Most moot court problems are based, at least in part on, actual cases. If you can find the case your problem is based on, you can look up some of the filings in WestLaw Next often including the briefs. This will make your research much easier. Also, a good oral argument is a conversation with the judges. Avoid things that make it feel "speechy" - this isn't a speech competition - but know your stuff so well that you can simply explain your case to the panel. Finally, panels are swayed by the logic of your argument, not emotional pleas or rhetorical flourishes, so avoid these.


Good luck! Have fun!


I will add that if your competition is happening 1L year, there's a good chance your problem will be a "closed universe" where the team gives you the cases you are permitted to use and read. If that is the case, you will likely not be allowed to look up the briefs. Check your tournament rules before following through on DocHawkeye's excellent advice.


You are correct, this 1L competition is a closed universe so no extraneous research is allowed (also no briefs are due, so it's simply a matter of presenting a good oral argument). What notes do you bring with you to a moot court argument? Do you have a cheat sheet or an outline of sorts? how do you anticipate and prepare for the peppering of questions?

(p.s. the comments thus far have been really helpful, thanks guys!)

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pauwelsd
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Re: Moot Court newbie questions

Postby pauwelsd » Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:33 pm

Practice, practice, practice.

Know the cases inside and out and be able to pull cites directly from the cases and the record. Keep your rebuttal brief and focused on one point.

Most importantly, answer the judge's questions directly. This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how often it isn't done.

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DocHawkeye
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Re: Moot Court newbie questions

Postby DocHawkeye » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:41 am

z0rk wrote:What notes do you bring with you to a moot court argument? Do you have a cheat sheet or an outline of sorts? how do you anticipate and prepare for the peppering of questions?

(p.s. the comments thus far have been really helpful, thanks guys!)


I always bring a short outline (no more than 2 pages since you want it to lie flat on the lectern and they are often fairly small) and nothing else. In the short amount of time you have to argue (likely 10 minutes) you won’t have time to look at anything else. Make sure you note where your information came from - from the record (for facts) or the name of cases (for points of law). You probably don't need to worry too much about full citations but it might be helpful to note who decided each case, especially if the moot court is a "federal court." This is especially true if you problem is a "case of first impression" in a fictional jurisdiction and all authority other that the SCOTUS is persuasive rather than binding.
Also, structure your argument so that the strongest point comes first, you might not have time to get to anything else. The judges will interrupt you to ask questions. This is normal and expected and it counts as time in your argument, so be prepared for this. Also, anticipate what your opponent might say. You will probably be asked to rebut the strongest points of the opposing argument by one of the judges. The judges may push you around your argument a little bit, so be flexible - they don't know your outline and they might ask you about a point you haven't gotten to yet. I find it helpful to think of my argument like a set of boxes. If the judges take me out of one box and into another, I just go with it. I answer the question and use the other contents of that box to lead me back into my argument.
Also, practice is the key. Make sure you can maintain solid eye contact with the judges throughout. You probably shouldn't really need to read anything. Long quotations from cases are a bad idea. Be prepared to talk, uninterrupted for about 3/4 of the time you have assigned. This will make sure you have enough to talk about in the actual argument.
Again, have fun and good luck!




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