2L-3L Law School: Moot Court

Moot Court is a law school activity and competition where students prepare and argue an appellate case in front of judges. The Moot Court competitions are judged by volunteers of law school professors, practicing lawyers, and even real judges. Depending on the law school, students join Moot Court during the 1L or 2L law school year. Each law school’s process for selecting Moot Court members is different. Some law schools’ Moot Court programs are competitive nationally and, thus, tougher to join.

Many law schools require 1L law students to prepare for an intramural Moot Court competition as part of the legal research and writing class. Often, this program is used as an audition for invitation to the law school’s Moot Court team. The term “moot” in this context serves as a double entendre. As a noun, moot describes an argument or discussion. As an adjective, however, moot is descriptive of something of little or no practical meaning.

Moot Court members are selected to participate in specific—usually nation-wide—competitions. They are given a competition problem—a hypothetical case with appellate issues. The problem includes the record from the underlying case and the issues that are to be appealed. The Moot Court members research one or sometimes both sides of the case, write appellate briefs, and participate in oral argument (at the competition). Some law school Moot Court teams have brief writers. In others, the oral advocates write their own briefs. Moot Court teams meet frequently, and hold practices prior to the competition. You should expect to devote 10-30 hours per week to Moot Court. Many law schools give Moot Court members academic credit for participation. Here is what you can expect from a Moot Court argument:

Why Should I Participate in Moot Court?

There are two principal reasons to join the Moot Court team: 1) Employers like it; and 2) It will make you a better lawyer.

Law students on the Moot Court team spend many hours perfecting the legal analytical, research, and writing skills that practicing attorneys must have. By participating in this process, you will become more comfortable arguing in front of judges, and a more confident, polished, public speaker.

There is no doubt that potential employers recognize the value of Moot Court experience. Employers know that Moot Court participants have been practicing the skills in law school that they will need in practice and that less time and money will have to be invested in training them. As you will see during OCI time, many employers require either Law Review or Moot Court to be considered for an interview.

Should I Do Both Law Review and Moot Court?

Both Law Review and Moot Court help law students to develop skills that they will take with them into practice. From a skills perspective, Moot Court is way more beneficial. From a prestige perspective, Law Review wins. Both of these activities require a substantial investment of time outside of class.

If your main motivation is getting the job at Big-Law, having both of these on your resume will not give you any edge. Big-Law tends to regard Law Review higher than Moot Court. If, however, you didn’t make Law Review, Moot Court is an excellent way to be considered for interviews at firms that would not have otherwise looked at you. Mid-sized firms and boutique litigation firms, tend to regard Moot Court experience higher than Law Review. But, we do not recommend forsaking Law Review to participate in Moot Court.

If you are on Law Review, you should only join Moot Court if you are serious about polishing your oral advocacy skills. Doing both of these activities is grueling. Expect to be constantly working and have no free time. Be very careful not to let your other law school classes suffer, this huge time commitment has been known to hurt grades.

Here are the benefits of Moot Court:
  • Polish your oral communication skills
  • Enhance your research and writing skills
  • Practice in structuring a legal argument
  • Practice in analyzing cases
  • Practice working on teams
  • The chance to travel and compete across the United States
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Greater marketability of yourself with potential employers
  • The possibility of networking with potential employers
  • Greater latitude with employers in the hiring process
Here is an interesting video from some law students discussing their Moot Court experience: