Ever wonder how you can practice your oral advocacy, legal research, and brief-writing skills while still in law school? Well, look no further. As a member of Moot Court Board (aka “MCB,” aka “law ninjas”), I had the opportunity to sit in on some of the oral arguments for the 2012 Orison S. Marden Competition at the New York University School of Law.
Here at NYU Law, the moot court competition involves two sides arguing in front of a panel of judges about a complex legal issue–usually one in which disagreement exists among the various appeals courts in the United States. Competitors also submit a written memorandum of law to judges beforehand explaining why the law should allow their client to win.
This year’s problem, as in all previous years, came from our fellow MCB members in the Casebook Division. Unlike most other law school moot court programs, our organization has two divisions: Casebook and Competitions. The Competitions Division represents NYU Law in competitions nationwide. The Casebook Division, which I belong to, publishes the annual NYU Moot Court Casebook ordered by over 100 law schools.
Oral advocacy is far from standing up and making a prepared speech. Instead, competitors can expect to be bombarded by judges with questions from all angles. It might sound nerve-wracking to the uninitiated, but it is a great way to learn how to think on your feet. It’s a little like a game of dodgeball. Sometimes, you’ll be able to escape being hit through your speed and cunning. Sometimes, a crazy ball will just come out of nowhere. (But unlike in dodgeball, for oral arguments, you simply have to keep going.) With just 15 minutes to make an impression, you learn how to convey your most important points to even the most skeptical of audiences.
The best part of being in the competition, I think, is that participants receive advice on how to improve their oral advocacy from real practitioners, most of whom are graduates of NYU Law. The Marden Competition is also a wonderful way to network with attorneys and learn about they do for a living.