Pakistan

A law student’s first moot competition

One of the best things one can do as a law student is participating in a moot court competition. I recently enjoyed participating in my first moot, which was an educational experience.

Expectations

Of course, most of my experience with my field came from watching lawyers in shows and movies. The courtroom drama with witnesses and victims giving their emotional statements, lawyers grilling them for the truth, objections being raised, laws being cited, and violations being dramatically pointed out is what I was expecting.

In my defense, those displays are quite entertaining, but a moot is very different, both considering that it gives you a clear understanding of how much preparation goes into a court case and also how it is actually meant to go.

The Difficult Part – The Research

Before the competition, every participating team must submit a memorial of their written arguments and stance on the issues that must be presented before the court. These written arguments must be backed up. Researching and gathering these authorities takes a grueling effort, so the time between the distribution of the case to the submission of the memorial was two months.

While I wouldn’t say I liked this part, it was very simple to understand that this is where the true legal field was present. This is the stage where the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer. The amount of creativity, resourcefulness, and resilience that is required to be presented with hundreds of hours worth of reading material just to find, at best, a single statement in favor of one’s case was jarring for me personally—but that one statement could very well be the difference between winning and losing the case.

The Boring Part – The Drafting

Once you’ve read through all your case laws and statutes, it is time to put it together and form an argument that will appropriately set the stage for your oral pleadings and give the judge the best possible presentation and defense of your stance. At this point, there needs to be a lot of fancy legal terminology used, plenty of proofreading, and a constant struggle against a usually tight word limit and not to mention a constantly creeping deadline. Fun fact, both sides of the case need to be prepared, so the arguments you worked so hard to create from one side must also be able to refute when the time comes.

It is, however, important because if your drafting skills aren’t up to par, then all that research would have been for nothing, and there is always the possibility of the judge reading it and grilling you over the mistakes you have made.

The Big Day – The Pleadings

There’s no shortage of nervous smiles, sweaty palms, and constricting collars on the day of the pleadings. As the makeshift courtrooms are filled with law students wearing black suits and ties, tension exists in the air. We enter the courtroom and set up our documents, memorials, and authorities. The bailiff makes the call—” All Rise” —as the judges enter, with the experience and knowledge visible on their serious faces.

As the doors close and the court is in session, all else fades out of existence, and all that matters is the case. Standing there on the podium holding a document that carries everything you have worked on for the past couple of months, the test begins. Almost immediately as I began, the judges began with their questions, and it quickly became obvious that this was not a competition against the opposite team; it was a game of survival and an obstacle course being run by the judges. 

Covering every issue assigned in the limited time while also answering the judges, it was important that whenever the judges were digressing, the counsel tactfully being them back to the point he or she was trying to make. Every pause, break, breath, cough, and tone can make or break the case. The judge must not find a moment of weakness. It is a dance that must be done elegantly, fearless but vigilant. 

A Trial by Fire

While the courtroom drama was not of the same nature as I had seen on the screen, it was definitely present. Overall, it was a brilliant simulation of what will happen one day in a real courtroom with real stakes and a real case. It was enough of a lesson to be learned that every little nuance matters, and the essence of being a good lawyer is the ability to cover them. The only grievance that one might take away from it is the obvious difference between every judge and the impact that might have.

Some judges come more prepared than others. Some prefer a more aggressive lawyer than others. Some look at the case from a different perspective than others. Some are just in a worse mood than others. Unfortunately, all of these situations impact the case’s decision, but this is synonymous with real life and is just a detail that must be accounted for.

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