Published on July 18, 2017 by Laura

My Law Society put on several debating and mooting competitions each year, which ranged from team debating to singles debating. These competitions were organised in collaboration with law firms so sometimes you would be judged by a trainee or an associate of a city law firm. This meant getting feedback from someone in practice as well as having an opportunity to network with potential employers.

Debating involves arguing on a contentious topic, usually based around current affairs – for example, one of my topics was ‘should the UK have nuclear weapons?’.

Mooting is basically a mock trial where you pretend you are in court acting on behalf of client arguing around legal issues. You would get a legal scenario to read and have to research around a topic.

I had a go at both types of competitions while I was in my first year of studying at UCL. Participating in these competitions gave me more confidence and practice to present arguments in front of others and be able to answer questions or make rebuttals without any preparation.  

While often any form of public speaking can be daunting and nerve-wracking, I would definitely recommend at least giving it a go for these five reasons:

1. Public Speaking is an essential skill for lawyers

You will need to be able to speak eloquently and confidently at all stages of your law career. These skills will be required at interviews and on vacation schemes where you may be asked to make a presentation – and even on the LPC you are examined on these skills. By developing your debating and mooting skills at university you give yourself a head start and can have some practice in a safe environment where it doesn’t really matter if you do well. It’s a good place to build up your confidence.

2. Developing arguments is also an essential legal skill

Debating requires you to put forward arguments and also rebut the arguments of your opponents. It also requires you to be clear and concise. Mooting develops your legal argument skills, developing your legal research abilities and looking at the nuances of case law and judgements. Honing these skills will help both in your studies and working life.

3. Mooting looks good on your CV

As the skills you need for debating and mooting overlap so much with the skills necessary to be a lawyer, firms and other employers will favourably look at these extra-curricular activities. The legal market is a competitive one so it is always good to add some extra things onto your CV to make you stand out.

4. It takes you out of your comfort zone

Practising to perform under pressure is really important and as with most things practice makes perfect. There will be many situations where you might get nervous such as at job interviews, internships, client interviews or pitches and learning how to deal with the butterflies just takes practice. Leaving your comfort zone really helps you learn how to deal with challenging situations and will help you improve on how you handle them in the future.

5. You’ll get feedback

How well you do in these types of competitions doesn’t really matter in the bigger picture. So it’s better to have a go in these types of environments where there aren’t any consequences for you not performing at your best. It’s a safe space to take pointers, make mistakes and learn from them. So take advantage of these opportunities to practice and get feedback. You’ll only get better!

Words: Lauren Tai


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