On Your Marks, Get Set, Moot: Introducing Your 2017-18 Moot Court Committee

The 2017-18 Moot Court Committee

With the 2017-18 mooting season (and academic year) soon to begin, your Moot Court Committee (MCC) wanted to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves and preview some of our priorities for the year. We hope that this article will start a conversation about the changes we will be working towards this year.

Who are we?

This year’s MCC is: Jennifer Heaton (Corporate Securities Moot), Stephanie Lewis (Baby Gale, Gale Cup, and Commonwealth Moots), Maud Rozee (Harold G. Fox Intellectual Property Moot), Diane Shnier (Baby Gale and Callaghan Memorial Moots), and Kerry Sun (Baby Gale and Jessup International Law Moots). The MCC is composed of graduating students and is selected in April each year by members of the outgoing MCC.

What do we do?

Briefly, the MCC is responsible for organizing the competitive mooting program. This includes the upper-year competitive moots, the Grand Moot showcase, and the Baby Gale Moot and 1L Trial Advocacy program for first years. Although the Faculty, law firms, and numerous individual alumni, students, lawyers, and professors all generously volunteer time and resources to support the MCC’s programs, these programs are organized entirely by the MCC.

 What are our goals for the 2017-18 academic year?

The MCC believes that oral advocacy is a core legal skill, just like legal research and writing. We also believe that the programs we organize at the law school provide students with an extraordinarily high quality and valuable experience. In the MCC’s ideal world, every student at U of T Law would have an opportunity to participate in and benefit from our competitive oral advocacy programs.

Each year, the MCC strives to enable more students access to competitive oral advocacy at the Faculty. We look forward to working together with the administration and the Student’s Law Society (“SLS”) towards achieving this goal. In particular, the MCC plans to advocate for the following changes:

Participation in New Moots

As in past years, the MCC intends to identify new moots which U of T Law could become involved in to expand the number of opportunities for competitive mooting. The MCC will put these moots forward to the Clinical/Experiential Education and Mooting/Advocacy Committee (“the Mooting/Advocacy Committee”), which will decide whether to recommend U of T Law’s participation to Faculty Council. In March 2016, the Mooting/Advocacy Committee considered ten new moots ranging from the Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition in Seattle, Washington to the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot in Gulfport, Florida. The Mooting/Advocacy Committee declined to recommend any of these moots, with the possible exception of the Pictet Competition in France if the Munk School of Global Affairs was willing to pay for it. Last year, in March 2017, the Mooting/Advocacy Committee again considered ten moots, including the Hicks Morley Labour Moot, an appellate labour moot for first years. The Mooting/Advocacy Committee declined to recommend any of these moots to Faculty Council, even though it had previously recommended participation in the Hicks Morley Labour Moot in March 2014, and the Faculty had subsequently participated in the moot in March 2015.

We look forward to collaborating with the Mooting/Advocacy Committee this year to work towards viable ways to expand the Faculty’s participation in oral advocacy competitions.

Inception of a 1L Internal Moot

Continuing discussions started by the MCC last year with the Mooting/Advocacy Committee, this year the MCC intends to advocate for the creation of a new internal 1L moot. This new moot would be in addition to the existing Baby Gale and 1L Trial Advocacy programs. An internal 1L moot in a round-robin format over a weekend some time in the Winter semester would allow more students to gain competitive oral advocacy experience in their first year. Support from upper-years as coaches and judges would be essential to the success of this initiative.

A Policy Limiting Upper Years to One Competitive Moot

Opportunities to participate in upper year competitive moots are limited. In 2016, 134 students tried out for 61 spots in the competitive mooting program. In 2015, 103 students tried out for 59 spots. To allow the maximum number of students access to the competitive moot program, the MCC intends to advocate for a policy that would limit students to participating in one upper-year competitive moot. This would not include participation in the Baby Gale Moot in first year or in the Grand Moot showcase.

It is uncommon for students to compete in multiple competitive moots. This is due in part to the policy limiting the number of graduating students on a moot team. This policy helps to ensure that each moot has enough non-graduating students to serve as coaches in the following year. Furthermore, coaching is a significant time commitment and many students choose to make it the focus of all of their mooting energy in their final year. Although the average number of students who compete in multiple competitive moots is typically small, we believe it is still important to ensure that as many students as possible receive the opportunity to participate in an upper year competitive moot.

Currently, students may earn up to six credits from mooting. The Academic Handbook states that students may earn these credits through a combination of competitive mooting, participating in the Grand Moot, and coaching. The MCC intends to work towards changing the Academic Handbook to state that a student can participate in only one competitive moot—just as, for instance, a student can only take the Trial Advocacy course once, even though the class works on a different fact pattern each year.

We look forward to discussing all of these proposals with the SLS and Faculty representatives on the Mooting/Advocacy Committee this year. We also encourage feedback from the U of T Law community on these proposals – you can reach us at utlawmoot@gmail.com or @utlawmoot on Twitter.