I’ve heard lots of rumblings about factums in the hallways as of late, which can only mean one thing – the first year moots must be around the corner. Good luck everyone!
Although giving oral submissions is nerve-racking, and writing a factum is the most difficult assignment of 1L (in my humble opinion), I really enjoyed my first year moot. I went into law school thinking I’d like to be a litigator, and the moot was my first taste of what that actually means.
In March, there will be opportunities for first years to audition for an upper year, competitive moot. I say go for it! The audition process is painless: last year we were asked to prepare an argument for or against making first year pass/fail. The audition was 5 minutes long, but it felt like it was over in 30 seconds. So you really have nothing to lose by trying, and a heck of a lot to gain if you get drafted!
Doing a moot has been the coolest experience of law school thus far. In just a week’s time, I will help represent UBC in the hotly contested UBC/UVic moot. This moot is the only strictly civil law moot (we’re doing tort law this year) and UBC and UVic are the only participants (which means there’s a healthy rivalry). UBC has a strong record of wins, but last year’s team was defeated. The pressure is on as my team and I are determined to bring the Matthew Begbie trophy home!
Here are some reasons why you should moot!
1. You will actually learn how to write a factum
This is not a jab at the first year legal writing program – it’s just that you will have so much more feedback. The factum coaches for my moot are Professors Edinger and Blom. I have literally spent hours in Professor Edinger’s office going over drafts. Not to mention that I had Professor Blom, an expert in the field, as my own personal sounding board for my arguments. Sounds pretty awesome, right?
2. You will improve your oral advocacy skills tremendously
I’m going to sound spoiled pretty quickly here, but writing the factum is only one half of the task. In one week, we will have to get up in front of real judges and plead our cases. To help us prepare, Davis LLP has been hosting practice rounds with their experienced litigators, and our coaches have been rounding up their colleagues for weekly practices on campus. I can’t even begin to describe how valuable this has been. Not only have these practices helped me construct my arguments and polish answers to questions, I’ve also refined my style. At the beginning of this experience, I was a compulsive “um”-er with crazy, flapping hands. I also had to be told that when I get flustered, I get defensive and come across as aggressive to the bench… Those are good things to work on now, rather than when there are a real client’s interests at stake!
3. You will meet great people
This includes your moot team, professors, practitioners and judges.
I think it’s safe to guarantee that you will bond with your moot team and add to your circle of law school friendships. While there are plenty of chances to get to know your professors, if you’re anything like me then you didn’t really pounce on your chances in first year. This is an opportunity to learn first hand what your intuitions have been telling you – professors enjoy helping their students. The lawyers at Davis are also incredibly generous, and I assume that any firm that offers to coach mooters does so because they want to help foster a budding crop of litigators. It’s nice to be on their radars. And lastly, you will be pleading before real judges, and you will get their feedback on your performance. For someone just starting out, that’s pretty awesome.
One word of advice
If you decide that you’d like to audition, have a look at which moots are available and which professors coach them. If there’s a moot you’re really keen on, send the coaches an email and introduce yourself, especially if you don’t have a class with them. The selection process is a bit like a draft, so it can only help you if the coaches know who you are and that you’re enthusiastic about their moot. Good luck!