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Inside the Moot court: How I’ve benefited from Queen’s campus investment

Law student Jia Xin Chang on what the exceptional campus facilities at Queen’s mean for her.

Moot court (or mooting for short), mirrors a real court case where counsels from both sides present their arguments in front of a judge. Prior to the moot, counsels prepare their skeleton arguments to be submitted to the judge and their opponents. Counsels are required to prepare other court documents for the moot, such as the cases or legislation they are relying on in their arguments. Mooting is the closest law students can get to experiencing what it is like being in court. Here is what I learned in Queen’s moot court:

1.Mooting is scary the first time you do it.

For my Legal Skills module in my first year, we were required to do a mini moot during our seminars in Week 4. Being freshers, the idea of mooting was strange and terrifying. The part that terrified me the most was having to present my arguments in front of the judge. Being an international student where English is not my first language, just added to the fear.

During the moot, I was the first person to speak. I was very nervous and intimidated. I did not know how to respond to the judge’s questions which resulted in poor responses.

After my summer internship in my second year, I decided that I want to be a barrister. I spoke to the careers service and they recommended joining mooting because it is a very useful experience to have. That was the reason I decided to participate in the Novice Moot.

2.Research is essential.

I took part in the Novice Moot competition. Prior to the Novice Moot, we had to prepare skeleton arguments for both sides and court documents. The skeleton argument is extremely important for the judges to read in advance so that they know the main points that the counsels will be speaking about. It is also very important for the counsels because it is a guideline as to what they will be speaking during the moot. Before attempting to write our skeleton arguments, we have to do our research regarding the issues in the moot problem. Because the moot problem we are given is a Criminal case, I looked up my Criminal Law textbook. In searching for cases we can rely on for our moot, I utilised the library resources as well as the online database available in Queen’s. While preparing for the moot with my partner, I also booked a group study room for us so we can carry out discussions while having proximity to the library resources.

3.You might just surprise yourself.

I was worried and stressed out before the Novice Moot, however, I told myself that I have to try my best and give it a go.

The first round moot was very tough in terms of judicial questions, I believe the judge was trying to test our ability in dealing with judicial questions, whether we can answer them in a way that is in favour with our side. Before mooting, I was very nervous and was shaking all over. But after I started speaking, I managed to calm down and was able to pull off my best performance. I guess the reason is because I was very focused in my material and I had forgotten to be nervous.

Surprisingly we were one of the top scorers in the first round in which we advanced to the semi-finals! In the semi-finals, we went against a strong opponent but we gave a good fight, nevertheless. We lost in the semi-finals by just a few points, but I knew we had tried our best.

4.You’ll be pushed outside your comfort zone.

After mooting twice in the same day, I was beginning to enjoy it. The moments that I enjoy the most in mooting was when I was presenting my arguments in front of the judge. I admit that I am not the best speaker and there are still plenty of room of improvement, but I know I know I’ll improve.

Although I did not like mooting during my first year, I believe Queen’s has given me a good opportunity for us to try out mooting, not every university offers that. That is to let first year students experience mooting to see if we like it or not. The Law school also organised a few mooting workshops during the beginning of the semester for students who are interested in mooting. I went to all of the workshops and even tried out for the external team selection. The Novice Moot is also a good opportunity for students to have their first ever experience in mooting. It can be scary, intimidating and frustrating, but I enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see what will be the next mooting opportunity that Queen’s offer.

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Photo: Jia Xin Chang
Jia Xin Chang