"Perhaps for the first time in law school, competitors collaborate with a partner to draft a brief; strategize on approach; and develop and deliver an oral argument. The only thing 'moot' are the issues. For those who choose to prepare and compete effectively, the experience, skill development, and sense of fulfillment are very real."
Lance M. Lindeen, Sherman Minton Moot Court Board Chief Justice
"Counselor, you may begin."
With those four words, Indiana University Maurer School of Law students move from the safety of classroom learning to the stress-inducing, adrenaline-rushed atmosphere of a functioning courtroom. As oral arguments begin in the 2010-2011 Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition, the Law School moves closer to crowning its finest advocates.
This fall, more than 150 students will tackle an engaging legal problem, writing briefs then arguing before a panel of real attorneys and judges. Judges will select 32 students based on their written and oral advocacy, advancing them to the spring rounds of the competition.
Most competitors are second-year students (2Ls), though 3Ls who haven't participated before are allowed to compete. For those in the competition, fielding questions from judges can be a heart-racing experience. Others find quickly that they are well-suited to rapid-fire exchanges with true professionals. Throughout the competition, students:
"Ultimately, a lawyer's stock in trade is advocacy," says Lance M. Lindeen, chief justice of the Moot Court Board. "A client depends on his or her lawyer's ability to persuade, explain, and argue--to advocate--in order to make that client's case. Moot court demands and rewards those who argue tenaciously and provides law students with a real sense of the practice of law."
The competition is challenging. Judges ask tough questions and expect clear and concise answers on the spot. Those who succeed are honored with a place in the competition's spring rounds. But even those who don't advance learn valuable lessons about trial advocacy and the effort and time required to successfully argue before a court.
Lindeen describes the competition as "exhilarating."
"The opportunity to argue before real judges--while important and exciting--was also one advocacy experience in a long line of trials and appellate oral arguments. I have learned from every opportunity to advocate."
Undergraduate students interested in law are welcome to attend any of the Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition arguments. A schedule can be found on the competition's website.