Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And the award for the most ridiculous OLPAS question goes to.....

"How do you hope to contribute to your future chambers?"

What an utter load of nonsensical, totally pointless, rage inducing twaddle! Other than I hope to work hard, bring in more business through a good reputation, not be a w****r, and not bring chambers into disrepute, what the hell is this question for?

The only possible explanation I can think of is that it is there for people who have relatives that own a business or are partners in a firm of solicitors who can promise to send more work chamber's way, which has nothing to do with the calibre of the applicant.

In other news I think that my scholarship interview went very well, and I have an Inn sponsor who seems to be very nice.

All the best

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mooting Tips

Having read Lost's post (if you have not then please follow the link on the right hand side), I thought that I would take up the offer and collaborate on this most worthy of projects. As a quick disclaimer I do not profess to being an expert, nor are these points to be considered sacred cows, they are purely my opinion and as such are open to discussion, debate, and dare I say it disagreement.

I agree with most of what Lost has said, although I don't bother with a contents page. I think this is because I use a slightly different system with my tabs. When I refer to tabs I mean those neon coloured thin little plastic post it ones that you use for revision.

  • Tabs - Tabs should not just be used to mark the beginning of a new case. Tabs are fantastic ways of speeding up the moot because with tabs you can direct the Judge straight to the page with the quote you are relying on. This saves the old lovely from having to fumble through umpteen pages, wasting your valuable time. Much easier to just say "Can I direct your lordship to page xyz, which can be found at pink tab number 2". Another tip is to use different colour tabs for you and your partner to add to the ease of use and avoid confusion.
  • Highlighting - As always this may be subject to the rules, but I have always found that highlighting the passage which you intend to refer to has found favour with the Judges I have mooted before.

Speeches and speaking: This is (for obvious reasons) the most important part of the moot and will provide the bulk of the advice in this post.

  • Pre-written - I know that many people like to have all their speech written out and then learn it and distill it, and reduce it to little cards or bullet points on A4. I implore you that if you can avoid doing this then do so. No matter how much you practice and re-read it you will never memorise it and you should not try to do so. You will sound just as wooden and may forget where you are. True spontaneity and natural mooting is achieved by reading the cases, formulating your points, thinking about any possible questions the Judge might ask, and going for it when you get on your feet. I have at the most the quotes I am relying upon plus the full citation. That is all! From a tactical point of view this makes life so much easier.
  • The language you use - Do not use slang (unless it is in the facts of a case or a judgment), abbreviations, or colloquialisms. Do not say TV say television. Do not say kids say children. The moot is a formal affair, and vulgarity does not go down well unless you can be humorous. In a previous moot I had to describe a case in which a man was caught receiving a blow job off of his girlfriend. Instead of saying that I used the word fellatio. Same thing just sounds more professional. However,
  • Don't use long words for the sake of it - You do not have much time so verbosity and verbal flannelage will not impress, it will only waste time and possibly obscure the point of your argument.

If you are the appellant:

  • Try and figure out what points your opponent will make and address them in your speech. This is another reason why you should not use a fully written speech. If you can make your point and give some good reasons why your opponent is wrong, you give the Judge some difficult questions to ask the other side before they have even opened their mouths.
  • Listen to the other side when they are making their submissions and write down answers to any points they make which need to be addressed in the rebuttal.
  • The rebuttal - This is by far and away my favourite part of the moot. The last voice that the the Judge will hear is yours so make it count. You have to be forceful and compelling. Address the points methodically and explain why they are clearly wrong. Use all of the knowledge you have including that of precedent. You will be surprised the number of times that teams will cite dissenting judgments and decisions of lower courts. These can all be used to your benefit. For the lead counsel who gives the rebuttal - Know your partners grounds of appeal nearly as well as yours.


  • Have an idea of what you want to say in support of your points, but most of your speech should be based on what the appellants have said in the preceding 20 or so minutes. This is yet again another reason not to have a written speech (sorry to bang on about it but it is just so important). You are the respondents so your job is to respond to their actual arguments, something you cannot do until you have actually heard them. You can think of some really novel ideas during this time which make excellent points.

General points:

  • Pretend you are actually in court presenting a real case. Refer to the decision of the lower court and if in a criminal moot a good out when a judge asks you why the particular indictment was chosen say "I am afraid I was not involved in the CPS decision when the case was heard at first instance. I have only been involved in the case from the start of the appeal proceedings". It shows that you know a bit about the legal system and that you are taking it seriously. Well that or it's a good display of BS.
  • Be inventive - After you have looked at the question and the immediately involved cases try to think laterally about the question. Just because it is a criminal case does not mean that you can't look to civil cases for sources of principle to put before the court. I personally like to be on the side where the law is clearly against you as it forces you to be really inventive.
  • Dress - The clothes maketh the man or so it is said. Look like a barrister and you immediately show you mean business. Do not slouch! Stand up tall (I have to do this as I am only 5ft 4"), speak loudly, and try to project an air of confidence even of your are bricking it. Shoes should be black, lace ups for men, leather, and polished to a high sheen. Trousers should be pressed, as should the shirt which from personal preference should be white. Choose a sombre tie and if you do not know how to already learn to tie a Windsor or half Windsor knot. If you have long hair make sure it is tied back so you do not fiddle with it. Do not wear any jewellery that may rattle and cause a distraction.

Well, I think that is enough for the moment. This is the longest post I have written for a long time. Hope that it is useful and enjoyable,