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The Challenges of Mooting


‘Mooting’ - either you love it or hate it, it generally intimidates and daunts most of the law students.


What exactly is mooting? In accordance with the Oxford University Press article, mooting provides law students with the closest experience of appearing in court where the oral presentations of legal issues will be conducted before the judge. [1]


Notably, mooting is a compulsory module in Semester 4 and it could potentially be daunting to inexperienced law students who either lack advocacy skills or the required confidence when it comes to mooting. In line with that, Lexicon had interviewed the Taylor’s Mooting Society, as well as a few mooters, whether beginners or seniors, in hopes to provide nuggets of wisdom for Taylor’s law students.

 

Taylor’s Mooting Society is unquestionably one of the most impactful societies in Taylor’s Law School where comprehensive mooting training sessions are regularly held to introduce students to mooting plus polishing their mooting skills. Mooting allows the enhancement of advocacy, presentation and critical thinking skills which are all essential skills for students of law unquestionably. Besides, by being involved in mooting, law students can get a plethora of opportunities to partake in mooting competitions and represent Taylor’s Law School on a national and/or international level, either as participants or volunteers. Practical and interpersonal skills can be developed that sets students apart from the rest. Students are given the chance to expand their social networking within the legal industry such as meeting lawyers and meeting law students from other universities, which could potentially benefit students in the long term. Ultimately, it sets law students on a good path to their careers in the Malaysian legal fraternity. As a word of encouragement, the president of Taylor’s Mooting Society noted that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Law students are highly encouraged to take the initiative to courageously begin that first step when it comes to mooting.


In line with the words of encouragement, 2 beginner mooters who courageously step out of their comfort zone were being interviewed to share their valuable thoughts. As Semester 2 law students, both Elissa Chiew and Kirthanna Arumugam had joined their first-ever mooting competition (Taylor's Intervarsity Mooting Competition 2022) a few weeks before to put their mooting skills into practice. The competition itself serves as an eye-opener for both of the newbies who have only begun their mooting journey for not too long. Despite being a complete beginner in mooting, Kirthanna expressed her eagerness to gain more experience and knowledge through participating in the mooting competition. She believes that by eagerly participating in mooting, she will be able to brush up on her presentation skills in court. Elissa on the other hand agreed with the sentiment and further expressed her desire to build more confidence.


It was a mix of bittersweet as both of them unanimously agreed that while the competition itself was interesting, there seems to be no escape from the feelings of anxiety and nervousness. Besides the feelings of fear, they both faced obstacles that overwhelmed them. In particular, Elissa had struggled tremendously prior to the competition and there were intense feelings of wanting to quit and give up due to the number of workloads and commitments required. Kirthanna on the other hand agreed as she pointed out that time management was a concerning issue for her during the preparation phase. Despite hurdles, Kirthanna further expressed her feelings of joy as she scored a small victory of winning two rounds which she did not ever foresee coming.

“Will you continue to join mooting competitions in the future?”

Both the beginner mooters did not hesitate to say ‘yes’ when this question was asked. They both emphasised that it is never about the ‘winning’ and ‘losing’; what matters will always be the fruits you gained along the process. Bit by bit, through mooting, the experiences and knowledge gained would be rewarding to law students at the end of this university journey. This is particularly evident when the journeys of Nimesha Theva and Keanu Tan are reflected respectively. As they were heading towards the end of their university experience, the two Semester 6 students were generous enough to provide inputs about their mooting experience, in hopes that mooting could be less intimidating to the eyes of beginner mooters or law students who may be keen to practice.

Nimesha as an experienced 3-year mooter reminisced and shared her very first encounter with mooting. In Semester 1, she was exposed to mooting when she volunteered as an emcee in a mooting competition. She was in awe that students who were only 1 or 2 years older could present themselves in such a professional manner and speak with wonderful eloquence and conviction. She was also able to watch connections forged between students and legal practitioners which further sparked her interest in mooting

“From there, it was an easy decision to decide to start on my own mooting journey.”- Nimesha

Meanwhile, Keanu Tan, an experienced mooter started his mooting journey last year.

Prior to joining my first mooting competition, I have always faced difficulties when I am required to make a presentation or to speak in front of an audience, as I would get anxious and nervous easily. In addition to that, my train of thoughts will often get disrupted and even goes “blank” on several occasions when I am placed under a stressful situation.”


Treating mooting as a ‘challenge’, Keanu persisted in joining mooting competitions where he hoped to improve himself in terms of advocacy skills before venturing into the legal profession. It was never easy for Keanu; the feeling of being at loss and at utmost confusion crept upon him during his very first mooting competition. The exposure to new areas of law was intimidating, and he struggled to navigate his way through the preparation stages. Even today, despite being a well-achieved mooter in mooting competitions, the whole mooting process is still challenging and daunting from his perspective.

“The thought of giving up has crossed my mind in different stages (researching stage, practising stage, competing stage) throughout my mooting journey.”- Keanu

Nimesha agreed with that sentiment as she commented that she always apprehends the possibility that she may completely misunderstand legal principles or referred to the wrong legal principles while conducting research. She continued to note that it can be very arbitrary, as there is no one fixed and conclusive answer. There is always a magnitude of approaches to take when developing arguments and inevitably there are always loopholes and flaws in arguments. Nonetheless, through multiple training sessions and competitions, Nimesha eventually became more experienced and she learned how to overcome and deal with the problems and complications when it comes to mooting. As Erika Casriel pointed out, confidence is not something you are born with but rather a learnable skill, the confidence that Nimesha acquired was no doubt coming from her own effort and her own determination to perform well.

“The thing is, if you allow those nerves to take over, you aren’t going to perform well. And it’s such a waste to put in those months of hard work and preparation, all to fall short because you were scared about doing badly. So, I put on my most confident mask and made sure to put on a performance with no regrets.”- Nimesha

As a final note, both the Semester 6 students offered words of encouragement to law students who are keen to join mooting. Keanu noted that mooting brings immense benefits as it sharpened his research and reading skills. Law students will be put in a setting where they were forced to formulate their thoughts in a concise manner to structure a logical and clear argument which would be beneficial while structuring answers during academic examinations. Keanu further reiterated that mooting is not just solely about winning or losing. Experience is always the best teacher and learning from mistakes consistently could lead to tremendous improvement in future rounds. Further, he advised law students that are interested but equally intimidated by mooting to make the bold move to courageously take the very first step and enjoy the process as it is. Nimesha on the other hand noted that mooting itself can be an arduous process, but one will experience immense growth as a mooter and as a law student because one’s thought process could mature while approaching tasks. Subsequently, Nimesha proceeded to highlight that law school is the time to explore in a safe space without any repercussions, so there is always no harm in trying. It is difficult to start something new but such learning opportunities are rare and could be even deemed as the chance of a lifetime where there would be no place else besides law school that would expose one to such a learning setting.

“Make yourself marketable and develop the skills that will help you out, in a very competitive market.”-Nimesha

Lexicon extends its utmost gratitude to Taylor’s Mooting Society and all the mooters who agreed to participate in the interview. Hopefully this article offers valuable inputs to all Taylor’s law students.

 

[1] https://global.oup.com/ukhe/mooting/whatismooting/?cc=my&lang=en&#:~:text=Mooting%20is%20the%20oral%20presentation,university%20to%20appearing%20in%20court.

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