Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Moot Court Definition:

A trial on a fictional or hypothetical issue, usually hosted by law schools, as training for future barristers or litigators.

In his 1989 article, Charles Cole extolled the virtues of moot court for the purposes of appeals in an artiucle aptly titled: Moot Court: Scrimmage for the ... Lawyer:

"What moot court is supposed to do: rehearse arguments, identify weaknesses, sharpen reflexes, and deepen knowledge of the case.

"Most lawyers encounter moot court for the first - and, unfortunately, sometimes the last - time in law school. There, it is an academic exercise, on an imagined issue.

"But real lawyers also do moot courts, and good lawyers take them seriously. In fact, an appellate advocate who does not participate in a moot court before argument is like an actor who skips a dress rehearsal or a quarterback who sits out preseason.

"(M)oot courts increase proficiency.... A good moot court simulates the give and take of a real oral argument."

Most law schools organize internal moot court competitions which include factum writing and an oral argument phase. The students, mostly in their final year, present their arguments before a group of other students, or faculty members or local lawyers or judges. Many will send their best to regional moot courts as between law schools.

"... the original purpose of moot court programs in American legal education was not specifically to train appellate lawyers, but to familiarize law students with the substantive law covered in classroom lectures. For example, the Litchfield Law School in Connecticutt ... held regularly scheduled moot court proceedings.... By applying legal concepts taught in lectures to factual situations in moot court exercises, students learned the substance of lawand became more interested in legal discourse."1

Some of the better-known such moot court competitions include:

  • Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competitions (International)
  • Commonwealth Moot Court Competition
  • English-Speaking Union Essex Court Chambers National Mooting Competition (UK)
  • The National Moot Court Competition (USA) 

REFERENCES:

  • Cole, Charles, Moot Courts: Scrimmage for the Appellate Lawyer, 15:3 Litigation 37 (Spring 1989)
  • NOTE 1: Bright, Myron. H., Book Review, 31 St. Louis U. L. J. 507 (1986-1987)

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