Being a law undergraduate is not easy. You work hard to try and achieve the best possible grade you can, only to be told that it is still not enough to guarantee your future. On top of getting a good class degree, you need an endless amount of life experiences to make you stand out from the crowd.
If you are anything like me, you will have read every legal careers book available, written to every chambers or solicitors firm within a feasible distance, and thrown yourself into getting involved with your university’s law society. But with a hundred or more law students around you doing exactly the same, is it enough?
This is where I thought mooting would help, as I believe it shows (particularly for students applying to the BPTC) a deep interest in law and a desire to become a lawyer. To test my theory out, I contacted LPC and BPTC providers as well as chambers and law firms to see if they felt the same way.
Mooting is not essential...
One thing all admissions staff for BPTC courses seemed to agree upon was that an application would never be rejected purely on an applicant having no mooting or public speaking experience. However, all were keen to see applicants with a variety of life experiences, along with clear, concise and well-presented applications.
Part of the criteria many BPTC providers for admissions is evidence of potential as an advocate. There seems no better way to demonstrate this than through competitive mooting, as it is a mock courtroom where students essentially pretend to be advocates. Many expressed the view that other forms of public speaking would suffice in fulfilling this criteria.
The chambers' view on mooting…
Only one chambers said they didn’t pay much attention to mooting, but admitted that the skills mooting develops may be useful. Some chambers stated that mooting was desirable, not essential. Equally though, they would be unlikely to shortlist somebody for interviews if they had no public speaking experience at all.
Others stated that mooting was only worth doing if you were interested in it and enjoyed doing it. They did say that they would be concerned if you weren’t interested in mooting or hadn’t taken advantage of, say, the plentiful mooting opportunities at your university.
Prize-winning mooters, particularly in prestigious national and international competitions, will obviously stand out, but most chambers stated that these candidates usually impress for a variety of reasons and not just their prize winning mooting skills. They all agreed that when choosing between a candidate with mooting experience and another with public speaking experience, the mooting candidate wouldn’t automatically be favoured.
What about if I want to become a solicitor?
This is not to say that mooting is only beneficial to those wishing to apply for their BPTC. Practical Legal Research is an assessed part of the LPC, which most students struggle with. It was noted that students who had extensive mooting experience did not have as much difficulty with PLR (particularly with the paper research as opposed to the electronic research) when compared with those who had no mooting experience whatsoever.
Is mooting worth it?
So, what does all this mean? Is mooting a waste of time? I would say it is most certainly not. Admissions staff are looking for a variety of experiences and therefore it cannot be said that doing any one particular thing will guarantee you an interview. This does, unfortunately, mean a lot of work for us poor undergraduates.
Try mooting, volunteer work (which can include advising people at your local Citizens Advice Bureau), find out if your university has a law clinic or a debating society, get involved with your law school's law society, or try a new hobby such as sports or crafts. Not every extracurricular activity you do has to be related to law, as future employees and admissions staff are looking for well-rounded individuals, but it helps if one or two of your activities are law related.
I know this sounds like an awful lot, but you do not have to do all the things listed above, just try two or three. Remember, you only get this opportunity once in your lifetime, so make the most of it.
Thank you to the people of KCH Chambers, Birmingham City University, Old Square Chambers, Matrix Chambers and Paradise Chambers for their input and for taking the time to respond to my enquiries.