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"Learn to think on your feet."

So, you think moot court is just another study unit on top of your already busy class schedule? Think again! There’s a lot to be gained from participating in these high-level mock trials and Deakin Law School has a national and international reputation on the moot circuit. In fact, the school is one of only six in the world to have been participating in Vis Moot in Vienna for 23 years.

Deakin Law School’s Dr Benjamin Hayward not only prepares students for the Vis Moot and Vis East (Hong Kong), in 2005/2006 he was a participating student himself.

Here he shares what students can gain to put them ahead professionally and personally.

Practical legal skills

Let’s start with the obvious. There’s no doubt mooting can provide you with a solid foundation of necessary legal skills such as researching, formulating and presenting arguments. ‘Students have to put together three briefs and they can end up being 50-60 pages each,’ says Dr Hayward. ‘The opportunity to practice is far more intensive than other competitions.’

Broader persuasion skills

‘Being able to build an argument can be useful,’ says Dr Hayward, ‘but the moot experience also teaches students how to persuade their peers, which is often necessary on a day to day basis within a firm.’

Looking beyond expectations

Some students know which field of law they want to specialise in and others are still trying to figure this out.

Dr Hayward says mooting allows students to ‘engage in other areas of law that they might not have considered before and in greater detail.’

Thinking on your feet

‘Arbitration dispute resolution is a more flexible process – arbitrators might interrupt students’ arguments with questions and those questions might even be put very directly and forcefully.  So you learn to strategise on the spot,’ says the international commercial law expert.

Working in a team

While studying law, your focus is often on your own future career. Dr Hayward says mooting teaches you to collaborate with others, with the end goal of the team doing as best as it can, not the individual. ‘This approach makes it a very different way of learning compared to regular classes.’

Taking on extra commitments

‘Mooting is a big commitment and students can expect to get a feel of what it’s like to work full-time in a legal firm,’ says Dr Hayward. ‘Students who participate, do it out of interest and a desire to expand their legal skills, not because it’s something that is required of them.’

Confidence

There are many ways mooting can help build confidence. Dr Hayward says that some students do it to feel better about their legal abilities while some do it purely to become more comfortable with public speaking.

Developing networks

One of the reasons Dr Hayward is so passionate about Vis Moot and Vis East, is because it’s a chance for students to meet professionals already working in the field, including moot alumni who come in to act as judges. He also points out that the students you work with or meet on opposing teams are your colleagues of tomorrow.

Beyond the moot court

Dr Hayward says that there are many great opportunities for students post-moot. ‘There are examples where students have gone on to be research assistants for academics, secured clerkships or come back to coach the next moot team,’ he says. 

Some past Deakin Vis Mooters went on to become published authors with the Vindobona Journal of International Commercial Law and Arbitration.