September 01, 2017

How to Construct an Effective Moot Court

A moot court allows counsel to frame an argument, respond to questions, and convey a client’s position most effectively.

Dori Bernstein

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Many advocates consider a moot court a highly effective, if not indispensable, component of preparing for an appellate argument. Because most appellate courts hear oral argument only in those cases raising novel, difficult, or complex issues, counsel often encounter a well-prepared and active bench. Appellate judges routinely interrupt advocates (and occasionally one another) to ask questions, raise concerns, and pose hypotheticals that test the limits of each party’s position. While scripting an argument, composing written responses to potential questions, and rehearsing in front of a mirror are useful preparation methods, they cannot replicate the spontaneous give-and-take that occurs in court. A moot court allows counsel to practice engaging in a conversation responsive to the judges’ concerns—the hallmark of effective oral advocacy.

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