The mooting opportunities at UL allow students to practise and perfect their advocacy and presentation skills. These are transferrable skills that
help to bolster students’ presentation and communication capabilities. As such, mooting is not only of benefit to those intending to enter legal practice but to anyone interested in improving their presentation, communication, problem-solving, logical reasoning, and teamwork skills.
In 2010, the School of Law opened the first replica courtroom in Ireland on a university campus. The courtroom is a state-of-the-art replica courtroom and has all the traditional equipment and embellishments including a judge’s bench, plaintiff, and defence benches, as well as a 12-seat jury box and witness stand. This permits students to practise their advocacy and presentation skills and act as members of the judiciary and examine witnesses in mock trials. Students will gain a perspective into all procedural aspects of a trial. The witness stand facilitates an inter-disciplinary approach to the law, through engaging witnesses from other departments whether expert witnesses from the Department of Engineering or from the Graduate Entry Medical School. The courtroom has an advanced IT/AV system that permits simultaneous viewing of judge, jury, counsel, and witness participants. There is also a recording facility that allows students to review their own advocacy and presentation skills, allowing them to reflect upon, improve, and hone their abilities in practising the law.
The development of the courtroom complements an objective of the School of Law: to bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical understanding of how the law operates beyond the classroom. It was purpose built to enable students to obtain hands-on courtroom experience while at university. It has already been used to great effect by UL students for mooting under the guidance of faculty in the School of Law, and it is an ideal amenity for the development of the clinical skills aspects of our law programmes. Through participation in simulative cases in areas such as tort and labour law, students acquire invaluable practical experience to enhance their understanding and learning of the law. The moot courtroom was launched by then Chief Justice, Mr Justice John Murray and that event was attended by High Court Judge, Mr Justice John Edwards and the late Dr Gordon Holmes of HOMS Solicitors. At the launch, Mr Justice John Murray said that the courtroom was a “very important innovation”, explaining that “it is in a court that the law comes to life”. The Chief Justice described the courtroom as “an excellent aid to training lawyers” and a “safe space in which the students can hone their skills”.
In 2018, the School of Law’s clinical legal education facilities were expanded with the addition of purpose-built, state-of-the-art Appeal Court situated in the UL Glucksman Library. The new Appeal Court is used in conjunction with the School of Law’s existing moot court room for moot court competitions and other events. The Appeal Court features a curved judge’s bench capable of seating five judges, which mimics the style of the Irish Supreme Court and allows students to practice their legal advocacy in a realistic appeal court setting. Similar to the original moot court room, there is a podium for the students to make their submiss ions to the bench, bordered by two counsel’s tables. Behind this, there is audience seating, much like a public gallery in a real courtroom. The Appeal Court also benefits from the most up-to-date audio and visual recording equipment to allow moots and presentations to be recorded.
Mooting simulates a court hearing where students compile written legal arguments and engage in oral advocacy in a hypothetical court case. Law students at UL have a number of opportunities to engage in mooting during their degree courses. At undergraduate level, many modules incorporate mock trials & moot court exercises that allow students to gain valuable courtroom experience in relation to issues that are the subject of their academic study.
In addition, a number of extra-curricular moot competitions take place throughout the year. Students participate in competitions both internally & externally. Our annual internal moot court competition is open to all UL students and is kindly sponsored by A&L Goodbody, one of Ireland’s leading law firms. This competition usually takes place over the course of one day with the grand final taking place in our specialist moot court room. The grand final is often adjudicated by sitting judges and court dress (formal attire and gowns) is required. As such, this experience allows students to acquire realistic courtroom experience, which is undoubtedly of benefit in their future careers. An annual moot court competition takes place between a team of final year UL students and students from the University of Cambridge. The students travel to each other’s universities in alternate years to represent their home university on the international stage. There are also a number of opportunities for UL students to take part in external moot competitions, both national and international. Workshops are held throughout the year to help students prepare for the competitive mooting experience & to enhance their knowledge of mooting & advocacy.
The School of Law in UL was the first law school in Ireland to have a dedicated moot court room. It will have a second court room to help students develop outstanding practitioner skills when the Appellate Court Room opens in the new Law Library.