HOW TO PREPARE FOR A MOOT COURT COMPETITION
Before sitting to write a memorial, understand deeply of the given moot problem, dive into the facts of the case, what is your first intuitive response both in favorable and unfavorable point of view. Go through the statement of issues over and over and do not leave any room for doubts. Once you thoroughly understand the problem at hand, issues and facts of the case, start with the research for your Memorials.
HOW TO RESEARCH:
Preparing for a moot involves carrying out systematic legal research.
For this you need to plan the research read through your moot scenario carefully and highlight or make brief notes:
- Analyse the scenario, separate the facts from the legal issues
- What are the stated grounds of appeal?
- What are the key points of law to be applied?
- Note any case citations and legislation details you need to find and read.
This information forms the bare bones of a plan for further research.
- First, read the problem carefully. The facts and procedural posture of the case will become very important as you hone in on your research. For instance, was the case disposed of at summary judgment? did it get to a jury? are there evidentiary issues? whose burden was it to challenge the adverse ruling?
- Begin the research. There are two ways to start. If the problem lists cases or shows some legal analysis in the fact pattern, then start researching by looking at the cited cases. If the problem does not cite legal analysis, then skip to step 3.
- After you’ve completed step 2, the real research begins. The best way is to start broadly and progressively get smaller. Start with law review articles or treatises (AmJur and ALR are the big ones, and each state has different, more specific versions like CalJur or Witkin).
- With a broad understanding of what the law is in various jurisdictions through the treatises and law review articles, you can now start looking at individual cases. Keep an eye out for cases that have similar fact patterns to your own, the analysis may be very persuasive to a judge when you write your brief.
- Make sure you keep a log of your research so that you don’t have to duplicate your steps. I keep mine in a legal pad, though notebooks work just as well. Loose leaf paper tends to get lost, so avoid distracting problems like that.
- When you finalize your research, outline your thoughts, with particular emphasis on including case names and page citations to save time once you start writing. The outline should form the basis for your actual writing, and the headings for the outline should give a good idea of what your argument will be in each section.
- Start writing. Everyone has their own style, so find yours. One way to write each section is using IRAC, which stands for Issue, Rule (statutory or judicial), Analysis, Conclusion. Make sure your arguments address both sides of the point, with far more emphasis on your own argument of course!
- Ask someone else to peer edit your work. Whether it’s a fellow student, TA, or instructor, a fresh set of eyes will always help in shoring up loose arguments and loose language.
FORMAT OF A MEMORIAL:
Each Memorial will contain the following required sections:
Do not get overly creative with decorations. At no point, mention your name or the name of the institution. Do refer to the rules and regulations of the specific Moot Court competition. However, you can mention the following things:
- Team number
- Year of the competition
- Name of the case
- Title of the document (e.g., “Memorial for Respondent)
- Total number of words
Table of Contents
A good table of contents helps the reader to better understand the structure of your legal presentation, the flow of logic and the organization of the arguments.
List of Abbreviations
In the process of preparing your written memorial, either for Respondent or Applicant / Petitioner, you will come across several abbreviations. Do remember to keep track of those abbreviations and provide them in the Abbreviations page. This helps the reader to better understand the context of the abbreviations. To learn more about list of abbreviations commonly used in a memorial, check List of Abbreviations post.
List of Authorities
Each source of authority should be properly mentioned in the List of Authorities page . Include bibliographical information as well for better tracking of the case mentioned. Do take proper care that the sources mentioned in the memorial are relevant to the case at hand. Avoid listing sources which are not directly related to the case, or which is not persuasive in pleading your argument.
Statement of Jurisdiction
At no point of time, the scope of the work and citations should not exceed outside the jurisdiction that is given to you with respect to the Moot Court competition committee.
Statement of Relevant Facts
As to the sources and jurisdiction, resist the temptation of including facts that are not in favor of your argument. Organize your facts in a series of steps that better present justification of your arguments.
Statement of Issues
In this section, write the statement of issues given to you. If statement of issues not given, then prepare the series of questions based on the available problem and present it in a readable format. Limit each issue to be within a sentence.
Summary of Arguments
Provide a quick view of the structure of your Arguments Advanced page. It helps the reader to easily navigate to a specific argument in detail.
This is the most important section of all, as you have the opportunity present your legal research and analysis in a persuasive manner. Arrange your arguments in a logical and justifiable structure. You can include legal authorities such as standard text books, academic commentary, statues and cases, for developing the strength of your argument. Again resist the temptation to include only the facts related to the case at hand.
Prayers / Reliefs / Submissions
Last, but not least section of the memorial. Based on the arguments, facts, and previous judicial precedents, pray for the relief of your case.
A GOOD MEMORIAL EXPLAINS:-
- What is the jurisdiction of the court.
- What are the issues and to answer these issues what are your arguments.
- Stating the case laws referred.
- What do you ask from the court in the form of judgement. I.e. “prayers”.
- Stating all the sections and articles.
TIPS FOR GOOD MEMORIAL:
- Use precise and simple English in your moot memorials.
- Present facts from the point of the view of the side which is presenting the memorial.
- Have a good index and pagination. Using 1, 2,3 and i, ii, iii etc. can be confusing for the judges.
- Tackle objections which might come from the other side. Negate or distinguish the cases which might be used by the other party.
- Use spiral binding and good quality paper. Presentation matters.
- Have multiple copies of every document you want to use. Have one copy for every judge and save time!
PREPARATION OF ORAL ARGUMENT:
Fortunately, most intramural competitions don’t require that you have to write a brief, but rather will provide a record of the problem and often a basic bench memo outlining possible arguments for each party. But where do you start with this information?
- Read the materials
Familiarize yourself with the major legal and factual points of your case. If you’ve been given any example briefs or bench memos, review these very carefully. The goal of your oral argument is to state the best points for your side persuasively and forcefully, to clarify points not well made in the written materials and to address weaknesses in your case as well as counterpoints to your opponent’s arguments.
- Know the facts of the case
You should know and understand every page that makes up the record. During oral argument, you should be the expert on the facts and be able to field any questions from the judges regarding the record.
- Read the important authorities relied upon by each side
Some moot court judges will be familiar with at main authorities, so be prepared for questions on the holdings of these cases as well as the reasoning behind the relevant holdings. If you don’t have time to read the entire opinion, then read the court’s disposition on the issue, the relevant issue section and how the court applied their reasoning to the facts. At the very least, you need to be able to understand how this case applies to your case, how the facts are similar or different and how the court ultimately ruled.
- Create a unifying theme
Choose a central theme to focus and strengthen your argument. A theme will set the tone for your oral argument, and you’ll want to return to it as you answer questions from the judges. As an advocate, you want to make that theme resonates so that the judges remember your central message long after you’ve left the room.
- Prepare responses to likely questions
In addition to thinking about what questions you want to answer, play devil’s advocate. What are the weakest points in your case? What would you have most difficulty responding to? What questions do you dread? Spend time coming up with candid answers to all of these types of questions. Nothing is worse than seeming flustered after a question from the bench. And nothing looks better than giving a great answer to a question that the judge thinks will stump you.
- Create a brief outline of your argument
Outline on a single sheet of paper, or on the inside of a manila folder that will be open in front of you at the podium. Include your major points so that you can use it as a quick reference – but do NOT write every word of your argument down.
Oral arguments are supposed to be a conversation between you and the court. It should be an interchange of ideas between you and the judges. This means that you want to maintain as much eye contact as possible and remain flexible so that you can engage in a dialogue with your panel.
If you want, you can write out your introduction as a bit of a security blanket. If you have time, it can be helpful to memorize the first minute or so because it will help you feel settled at the beginning.
In your outline – near the top and the bottom – be sure to include exactly what you are asking the court to do. That needs to be clear to you and clear to the judges, so it’s good to mention it during your introduction as well as provide a strong prayer for relief during your close.
While this seems a bit obvious, but it’s one of the most important parts of preparation. Run through it a few times by yourself without any interruptions or observers. This will give you an idea of what is working and what sounds good. You will likely find yourself revising your outline as you practice.
After practicing the arguments alone a few times, then practice in front of a friend or video tape yourself. Yes, I said it. Few of us like to watch ourselves on tape, but this can be a great way for you to see your nervous ticks and correct your problems.
GENERAL OUTLINE OF AN ORAL ARGUMENT:
May it please the court, my name is _____ and I represent the Petitioner/Respondent __(name)___.
- [REBUTTAL REQUEST & PROCEDURAL BLURB (for Petitioner only)]
With the court’s permission, I would like to reserve 2 minutes for rebuttal. Thank you.
This case is on appeal from the District/Circuit Court (name of court). The District/Circuit Court denied Petitioner’s request for _____, holding _____.
Your honors, _______ is a violation of international law and we ask that you ________ for (the following) two/three reasons:
- First, [substantive legal argument – strongest point]
- Second [substantive legal argument]
- And Third, as a matter of public policy OR as public policy dictates, [policy argument]
- With respect to the first point your honors . . . OR First, . . .
Since [first point], [second point], and [third point], Petitioner/Respondent respectfully requests that this Court finds ____ a violation of international law. Thank you.
- [REBUTTAL (for Petitioner only)]
Respondent made one/two point(s) that I would like to address. (First) Respondent stated that . . However, . . . OR
Respondent contends that _____. However, . . .
- For Rebuttal:
- Attack misstatements and glossed-over weaknesses.
- Address concerns of the court.
- One to two points – most important point first.
- If you obviously and/or materially misspeak, say “rather, ____” OR “pardon me your honors, what I mean to say is ____” and correct yourself.
- If you are really hard-pressed for a transition, say, “which brings me to my second/third point” and find a way to fit what you were talking about into that point.
- If you are going to quote a case, drop the case language verbatim into your outline and KNOW the pin cite.
- If you aren’t sure what the judge is asking, seek clarification.
- This can also be used as a stall tactic if you are unsure how to answer the question.
- Say something like, “Your honor, I want to make certain I understand your question, would you mind regarding-phrasing?”
- Say, “I don’t know” in response to a question.
- If you don’t know the answer, say something more like, “Your honor, I am unable to fully answer your question at this time. However, I would be more than happy to submit a supplemental brief on the issue/matter/case.”
- Smile or laugh or otherwise lose composure during argument (unless the judges are smiling and laughing and you feel it would be inappropriate to NOT smile and laugh).
- Take a pen up to the podium.
- Outline your argument!
- Try to reduce your argument to 2-3 pages.
- Use headings and sub-heading. Bold, capitalize, etc. for ease of reference.
- Use a manila folder to organize your arguments.
- Take nothing but that manila folder up to the podium.
- Listen carefully to opposing counsel’s arguments and the judges’ questions.
- Take verbatim notes of both. Quote and/or directly address if appropriate.
- Know, in advance of the argument, which points you are willing to concede (if any).
- Preface your answers with the following:
- Yes your honor, however . . .
- No your honor.
- I (respectfully) disagree with your honor’s characterization/construction of . . .
- Have your introduction, [procedural blurb], roadmap, and conclusion memorized.
- Customary form of Address to a Judge of an Indian High Court: My Lord when addressing a single judge; Your Lordships when addressing more than one judges collectively.
- Hand in your Memorial before you go to present your case. Bow before you submit and bow before u go to present ur case.
- Begin by saying “May it please your lordship”
- Then ask permission to present the facts or if you think that the Court is already apprised of the facts then jump to the issues by saying some thing like this “If the court is well aware of the facts may I proceed to the issues:
- Ask permission to state the issues if not previously asked
- Ask permission to place the arguments
- Ask permission to place the prayer
- Always express gratitude for permissions granted, for being corrected when wrong, when complimented.
- Answer all questions as courteously as possible.
- Plead Ignorance when answer not known and then you may ask for an opportunity to make a calculated guess
- Never point finger(s)/hand(s) towards the Court. No hand gestures while speaking.
Indore Institute of Law