This year I’m participating in a moot court competition but I’m not traveling with my team. This unique situation has given me an opportunity to involve myself in a lot of what my team does – but also, understand where the sphere of my influence ends, as a team member, and how much I need to trust individuals on my team, to know they will make the right call when it matters, and do the best they can, always. The same way they trust me.
I’d like to say this at the outset. I’m not traveling this year. This is the first moot in which I’m participating as a researcher. It’s been a lot of learning in the last eight months. The moot is happening in the next week, but I wanted to take time to write about how I feel right now – because I know I’ll be too caught up with things next week to write about the moot itself.
Our University has done well at mooting. This is evidenced by the mooting accolades we have managed to collect. There is a culture that surrounds mooting euphoria that is impossible to describe. As with other places, that culture has changed: there are fewer people mooting these days. However, the intensity of mooting as an activity has not.
The positive aspects of this I have written about before. But, the negatives are not often things we talk about. There’s an over-emphasis on mooting (I say this as a mooter), and there’s also a lot of politics that has surrounded the activity that has taken away from it’s enjoyability. The biggest criticism I have of the mooting set-up at our University is that it created a culture that undervalued research sometimes. And the role of a researcher.
I’ve honestly hated that – on several moot teams I have seen researchers get sidelined when oral preparation begins, or, a disproportionate burden put on them, or, the worse, second-class treatment. That “they’re not equal” on the team, or that their say doesn’t matter as much. I’ve been blessed enough to work with 3 researchers who became some of my closest friends, see some of my closest friends evolve into being excellent researchers, and generally, witness what good researchers do, up-close. I’ve also seen them struggle with the role: feeling like they don’t contribute as much at the oral stage of preparation. And I’ve sympathized, but never been able to explain to them how much I thought they mattered.
I think researchers are equals on teams. And it’s time they get that credit. I’m experiencing the researcher role now – and I know that I can’t do it to the full extent, because I’m not traveling with my team. But, I also do know that I can say with full confidence that the involvement in the moot is factually not at all deserving of the kind of treatment that some moot teams give their researchers.
Think about going researcher-less into a moot. Then talk.
(I do know of a team that did this and found it difficult although they overcame it with grace, but difficult, it was.)
I just wanted to highlight that one thing about moot culture.
Other things this time have been great. I’ve been blessed with good teammates again, a nice problem, great guidance, interesting Law.
I do know what I’m missing out on, by not traveling. But I can’t say I’m regretting it because I know my teammates are doing everything they can to enjoy themselves and give the moot their best shot – something I would have tried to do as well.