Monday, 30 January 2012

"Moots" were a compulsory

part of my law school education.
In my first year you were given a simple problem and required to argue it in front of a member of staff or a visiting magistrate. Nobody was ever sure whether it was better to get a staff member or a visiting magistrate. I had already acted for someone in a real life situation. (You do not need to have legal training to appear on someone's behalf in a magistrate's court. I was not being paid for it, And yes, the case was thrown out - as it should have been.)
In the second year the problem was more difficult and the students worked in pairs. I was partnered with a young student who spoke English as a second language. Getting her to participate equally was as much of a challenge as the problem - but I had already been hauled aside and told that the staff knew this. Great.
After that there was nothing compulsory but there was something called "the Jessup Moot" which the students of International Law were expected to participate in. This is an international competition of very high standard where the students are given a problem of the sort that might be heard in the International Court of Justice. They are required to argue both sides of the case. When I was at university the work for that took place over the summer vacation. I was not a student of that sort of International Law but I was asked to participate anyway - not as part of the moots team but as part of the support team. It meant going back to university early but it was not the sort of invitation you turned down.
In Australia the finals - to decide the team which participates in the international competition - are held in the High Court. A member of the High Court judges the final. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed by the High Court - even if what you are doing there is fictional.
Yesterday I was talking this over with a young law student. He is wondering whether he will be good enough to try when he reaches that point in his degree. Why not? He is highly intelligent. He works hard. He still looked uncertain about this. Then he gave me a grin and said,
"You know what Cat? They should make all our politicians appear in front of the High Court and argue their case. I reckon most of them would fail."

1 comment:

widdershins said...

Out of the mouths of babes!