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Pulling Back the Curtain: Introducing Your Moot Court Committee

The 2016-17 Moot Court Committee

This year, we have seen greater interest in the Moot Court Committee (“MCC”), the tryout processes we run, and the initiatives we undertake. We hope this article provides you with some transparency about mooting at U of T and what the MCC is doing to expand mooting opportunities for all students.

What does the MCC actually do?

The purpose of the MCC, on a practical level, is to organize advocacy opportunities. It does this in three main ways.

First, the MCC selects students and facilitates student coaching for the following upper-year competitive moots: The Bowman Tax Moot, Callaghan Memorial Moot, Canadian Corporate/Securities Moot, Fox Moot, Gale Cup Moot, Isaac Diversity Moot, Jessup International Law Moot, Laskin Moot, National Labour Arbitration Competition, Walsh Family Law Moot, Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot, Wilson Moot, and the Winkler Class Actions Moot.

Second, the MCC organizes two un-credited advocacy opportunities for 1L students: The Cassels Brock Cup (“Baby Gale”) and 1L Trial Advocacy. Neither of these fulfills a student’s mooting requirement, and they are therefore placed in a different category than the upper-year competitive moots listed above.

Finally, the MCC coordinates the Grand Moot. MCC Members select participants, draft the problem, organize run-throughs, review facta, draft bench memos, and ensure a smooth performance on the day of the moot. Although similar to a competitive moot, the Grand Moot is intended to be a showcase event for students and alumni. As such, it is also distinct from the upper-year competitive moots that the MCC facilitates.

What does the MCC not do?

The MCC does not select individuals for the Arnup Cup, the Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Law Moot, or any moots earned as a result of winning an upper-year competitive moot (e.g. The Commonwealth Moot, The Jessup International Rounds, etc.).

The MCC also does not set course requirements for upper-year competitive moots. Part of facilitating a credited course such as a moot means adhering to course requirements and eligibility criteria set by the Faculty. Current Faculty course criteria do not prohibit individuals from participating in multiple moots. Because the MCC does not set these criteria, it is not authorized to enforce a “one moot rule.” Despite this, most students choose to participate in only one upper-year competitive moot and then act as a student coach the following year. The MCC is incredibly grateful to all upper-year coaches, who spend countless hours making our moot teams competitive and providing students with the best possible mooting experience. The norm of only participating in one upper-year competitive moot greatly benefits the MCC and the student body. However, the MCC is not empowered to make this norm a bright-line rule.

How does selection for moots work?

The goal of the tryout process is to provide a fair opportunity to all students who want to participate in a moot. To ensure fairness, we normalize scores to account for differences between judges and to remove any bias from the judging process. This year, we also provided students with the opportunity to participate in pre-tryout practice sessions. The purpose of these sessions was to help bridge the style gap between those who do and those who do not have oral advocacy experience, in an effort to improve access to U of T’s mooting program. The alumni who judged these sessions are currently articling, yet generously donated their Saturday afternoon to provide students with useful feedback prior to their competitive moot tryouts. This highlights the phenomenal dedication that the U of T mooting community has to improving access to competitive moots.

The MCC structures the tryout process to closely approximate an actual competitive moot. The reason for this is to remove as much speculation and subjectivity from the process as possible. The scoring system is very simple: 1/3 quality of analysis, 1/3 ability to respond to questions, and 1/3 style and presentation. In evaluating individuals on these criteria, judges are asked to indicate to what degree a person would, with adequate coaching, be ready to moot competitively the following semester. This process allows us to use a composite numerical score to most fairly allocate the limited number of mooting spots.

We absolutely acknowledge that this process can be stressful, and we truly wish that we could provide an opportunity for all interested individuals to participate in a competitive moot. Unfortunately, limited resources make that goal impossible, leaving the tryout process as the fairest alternative.

What does the MCC hope to change?

Frankly, the MCC would like the Faculty to approve and fund more mooting opportunities for students. This is something for which the MCC has always advocated and for which it will continue to advocate. New moots have been added over the past few years. However, U of T still offers fewer competitive mooting opportunities than Osgoode, Queen’s, and Ottawa, to name a few.

If you are interested in helping us encourage the Faculty to provide more mooting opportunities, please fill out this survey. It will only take you a few minutes, and we hope it will allow us to demonstrate sufficient interest from students and alumni to justify the new programs and moots proposed by the MCC.

The MCC has two main goals. We seek to create competitive moot teams and to provide mooting opportunities to as many students as possible. Those goals are not always aligned, but the MCC does not make subjective determinations about which goal is more important. Rather, we seek to achieve both goals within the regulatory environment established by the Faculty.

Previous Committee Members have celebrated the competitive success of U of T’s mooting program. This should not be confused with a lack of concern for access to mooting, nor should it be taken as a sign of dishonesty towards the problems that previous Committees have in fact worked hard to overcome. Celebrating the accomplishments of our classmates does not blind any of us to the work that still lays ahead. The current MCC would like to take this opportunity to thank last year’s Committee and its numerous predecessors for their tireless, unpaid, and uncredited efforts. They laid the foundation for a student-run moot program that has become one of the most successful mooting programs in Canada.

Editor’s Note: The 2016-17 Moot Court Committee is comprised of Simon Cameron, Victoria Hale, Stefan Case, Veenu Goswami, and Shane Thomas.

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