Lessons Learnt from Mooting

Final year LLB student Faizan Daud on winning the prestigious International Humanitarian Law Moot
The winning MOOT team
The winning team pictured with the Dean and Principal of Pakistan College of Law
The last lesson which this mooting competition added to my learning was how to work in a team and the ethics of teamwork

Mooting is no less than a pilgrimage for students who are keen to learn Advocacy. My own mooting experience started two years back in November 2013, when one of my team-mates and I participated in an intra-college criminal law moot. Although I had already cleared my Criminal law University of London annual exam with a Merit, these two days of preparation provided me with an opportunity to think about complexities and intricacies associated with Criminal law which went beyond what I had been able to absorb whilst preparing for my exams. I could very well foresee that taking part in Moots was going to develop my understanding of legal concepts that otherwise appear as summaries in a law course.

Recently, my College mooting coach, Mr Muhammad Mustafa Khan, signed me and my other two team-mates, Rubab Tariq Khan and Gull Feroz, for the Lahore University of Managment Sciences International Humanitarian Law Moot, 2015. We all had pocket size knowledge about International Law already, but that was not sufficient to win an IHL Moot. The Moot dealt specifically with such issues as International and Non-International Armed Conflict, Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, the provision of medical facilities under Geneva Conventions and non-derogable rights.

"A good law degree does not merely allow you to rote learn what a provision of law or a statute says, instead it enables you to discover law on any point and solve any legal problem that arises."

PCM Mooting teamThe first thing which a law Moot teaches you is conducting extensive research work on a particular area of law. A good law degree does not merely allow you to rote learn what a provision of law or a statute says, instead it enables you to discover law on any point and solve any legal problem that arises. And, providentially, our law degree from the University of London International Programmes had enabled us to find what law was applicable to our Moot problem. We went through some of the books available in our College Library on the Rome Statute and International Criminal Law, which were sufficient, but more was needed so we also referred to a few journals. Once we were able to assemble all the information, we then divided our issues and started writing memorials.

In many legal systems, written submissions of arguments tend to outweigh oral arguments. Even in adversarial legal systems where oral arguments play a vital role in court proceedings, judges usually go through the legal plaint or drafted submissions before hearing them. An ill-drafted document can therefore give the judge a bad impression about a lawyer’s advocacy skills. So the second thing which Mooting teaches you is legal drafting. Almost every person these days knows how to type and draft a document but that does not work for legal documents, there is a specific font and style which must be followed, footnotes must be properly spaced and citations of relevant documents must be in appropriate formats.

We submitted our memorials by 18 February and waited for the competition to begin. Finally, on 6 March, our team arrived at the venue all ready to get “justice” served to our fictional client. One of the most satirical aspects of this competition was we had to represent both sides i.e. Respondent and Applicant. This exercise helped us in building quick arguments and playing dual roles which are at times necessary for an Advocate. In the first two rounds, our competitors didn’t put up that much of a challenge and we were able to make it to the quarter finals. A judge was kind enough to add to our understanding that whenever a judge asks you a question, it must be responded to in accordance with the three ‘As: Absorb, Anticipate, and then Answer. This was actually the third lesson this Moot taught me. Some of our competitors got very nervous when judges questioned them – although they knew the answers very well, they went on to mumble and stammer which lead to negative marking. The judges also advised us to concede if you don’t know the answer to a question instead of making random conjectures and wasting time of the court. After two rounds, we had an idea that we were still not well equipped to cope with the intensity of the rounds which were approaching, so we started more intensive and concentrated research on our moot problem and developed new arguments to fortify our case.

"The next two rounds were very stimulating; we had the privilege of seeing the different advocacy skills of each team."

Before the quarter finals, we also met our competitors who were interesting, kind and frank to us, but also intellectually intimidating. The next two rounds were very stimulating; we had the privilege of seeing the different advocacy skills of each team. The legal questioning from the bench in these two rounds was more thought-provoking. This intense environment was also present in the finals, when we were questioned by a judicial bench consisting of senior Advocates of Pakistan who had expertise in International Humanitarian Law. One of the major differences between our team and all the other teams was of pressure. Pakistan College of Law had been continuously winning mooting competitions organized by LUMS since last four years and we did not want our College’s record to be miffed. With all the best wishes and good lucks, we started pleading in the final rounds. My co-counsel and I advocated rights of the Respondent reasonably and also pointed out some of the legal matters which our opponent counsel had missed. The fourth thing which a moot teaches you is pressure handling and how to perform well in arduous situations. After completing our arguments we were waiting for the results, the competition was quite balanced and it was very uncertain what the outcome would be. Finally, the moment of judgment came and Pakistan College of Law, a.k.a. Team 119, was the winner. We received the Winner’s Trophy which was followed by a dinner with the judges and other teams.

The last lesson which this mooting competition added to my learning was how to work in a team and the ethics of teamwork. Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." And that became the key to success in our case, too, in addition to the motivation, help and opportunity provided to us by our very own College, Pakistan College of Law.