Moot courts have been around since the late 1700s. They're a law school activity and competition that resembles what happens in an appellate court. Often described as “debate for lawyers”, students argue issues of law: “what is the law?” and “how does the law apply in this case?” Throughout the presentation, the presiding justices will test the strength of the arguments by interrupting to ask questions. Cases are often based on actual issues pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and students have several weeks to prepare for the presentation. Preparation requires reading and analyzing case law, legal research, brief writing and being able to argue both sides of an issue.
Moot Court, Mock Trial and Debate all develop extensive speaking and analytical skills, but they are very different. Mock Trial resembles what students frequently see on TV, with witnesses, exhibits, evidentiary objections and a jury. On the other hand, Moot Court and Debate are research oriented and involve speakers addressing a presiding judge. While Debate engages contemporary political and philosophical controversies, Moot focuses on contemporary issues of law. All three activities develop analytical and advocacy skills that are critical in college, graduate school, including law school, and the modern workplace. We encourage students to explore multiple activities to find the one that is best for them.