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Need for intense legal research in Moot Courts

Legal Research,

A renowned advocate once said the art of advocacy is to complicate simple issues and simplify complicated issues. The first thing a law student learns about the art of advocacy after reaching a law school is the Moot court. Moot courts are not only the first introduction to a law student of how court functions but moot courts also prepare one for court mannerism, etiquette and the code of conduct in front of a judge or a bench. However, these are the secondary qualities that the moot courts intend to cultivate in a law student. The foremost thing that a moot court helps with is the legal research abilities of a lawyer. Moot courts give an idea to a law student how the courts function during the proceedings of a case and what to expect from the bench, apart from the arguments that the lawyer has prepared for the case.

A moot court involves a fictitious legal problem and students are supposed to do their legal research, prepare the arguments and pray to the judge or the bench for suitable judgement based on their arguments. These arguments and prayers are made orally but the legal research is submitted through a moot memorial. It is this memorial which plays a significant part in determining how well has the student researched for the case and what logical deductions are being made based on the readings and the data available. Apart from the test of one’s oratory skills, moot courts also test one’s legal research skills. These are the two qualities that determine the mettle of a lawyer. However, it is often mistaken and misunderstood as one who is a good orator can be a good lawyer, too. This is only half-truth. No matter how excellent oratory skills one commands over, without proper legal research skills, the former is not greatly useful. Legal research for a k includes relevant provisions of the law, latest changes and relevant judicial precedents. From a pool of information, one needs first to find out the information and material that is relevant to the case one is working on and secondly, upon finding the data how can that be polished to incorporate the same in the moot memorial. Legal research and legal writing and legal analysis are all deeply connected. Being a good legal researcher helps one develop good legal writing and analysis skills, too. To be arguing as the appellant or the respondent, one must be fully aware and should have researched about all the minor legal details presented in the case. The bench sits not only to test the legal knowledge one has acquired but also the legal research skills one has developed by doing the legal research for the given case.

These legal research skills are not just limited to one’s time in the law school, these skills go a long way and can prove to be a significant differentiator in one’s profession as a practising lawyer, too. Legal research shows one’s preparedness and awareness regarding the case, as the more one has researched about the case, the more one is aware of the case and more prepared to answer questions pertaining to the case. Law schools do not teach legal research skills separately to the students; active participation in moot courts is probably the best way for one to learn legal research. Many national and international moot court competitions have a place separately reserved for the researcher apart from the oralists, as it is well realised that the oralists are only as good as the researcher. Legal research also involves proper formatting and drafting of the moot memorial, as there are marks specifically allocated for same. Therefore, moot courts provide the closest to real court-like experience and apart from one’s oratory skill, one’s legal research skills are sharpened and shaped in a moot court to help one turn from a law student to an excellent advocate.

-Anmol Goswami
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