By Olive Chew
Mooting has been one of the rites of passage in the University of Tasmania (UTAS) law degree over the past 50 years. A moot is a mock judicial proceeding in which students present legal arguments in hypothetical cases (or reargue decided cases). Mooting is daunting to many students as they are required to stand in front of a (mock) judge and their peers with nowhere to hide!
UTAS Law students are required to complete a Faculty Moot in the Supreme Court of Tasmania in the final year of their studies. In addition, mooting now plays a part in the assessment and delivery of two core units in the third year of the combined law degree. The program starts with advocacy workshops that equip students with basic skills and knowledge of court etiquette. Students practice these skills by mooting through the whole of their third year in Foundations of Public Law and Constitutional Law.
In recent years there has been a flood of students also participating in extra-curricular advocacy competitions such as the national Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) moot, the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot, The Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) moot competitions and, recently, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) International Moot Competition.
In February, the UTAS team was the only Australian law school represented at the regional rounds of the World Trade Organisation International Moot Competition in Singapore. The team was made up of current students: Pearline Chia, Cynthia Chua and Aelish White. Pearline Chia, who is currently in Singapore doing her Part A Legal Bar Examination, commented: ‘It was really good exposure and experience!’
The competition involved a fictitious case written by Professor Andrew Lang of the London School of Economics. The case focused on subsidies for the production of renewable energy equipment and the purchase of renewable energy.
The combination of compulsory mooting in third year, supported by good training and skills development, and good success in mooting competitions is creating a terrific advocacy culture in the law school.
The strong advocacy skills development in the Law School can be seen in the following results of mooting competitions:
- 7 Grand Finals, 3 firsts and 4 seconds since 2013
- 19 top-8 finishes since 2013
- 9 top-4 placements since 2013
I enjoyed mooting during Constitutional Law and intended to use the AAT competition as a practice leading up to Jessup try-outs. Nevertheless, it was a welcome surprise to have done so well in the AAT competition! While my mooting and submission writing skills improved, the research skills I gained, have been the most useful.– Ryan North
In October 2016, Rose Mackie, Ryan North and Bryanna Workman won the national AAT moot competition in Melbourne. This was UTAS’ second successive grand final win in this competition. In addition, Mea Quartararo, Rochelle Hodge and Lillian King Roberts took out the Women’s Moot competition title in Sydney in 2016, with Mea winning the best speaker award.
‘My mooting abilities greatly increased! We had the opportunity to moot regularly in a real courtroom in the Federal Court, in front of real members of the tribunal. We also did countless practice moots before each round. I am now quite comfortable standing up in front of any audience and mooting, and that is directly attributable to AAT.’ – Rose Mackie