Chapter 13 Guidance to answering the practical exercises

Advocacy and mooting

Q1. Where is your nearest court and when might you be able to attend to observe proceedings?

This question is to help you begin the process of arranging a court visit. Gillespie (see Chapter 13, Further Reading), will help you to plan your first court visit. Watching lawyers in action at court is easy to achieve while you are a student and it will help you to hone the communication skills discussed in this chapter, increase your commercial awareness as discussed in Chapter 15 and build your CV as discussed in Chapter 16.

Q2. What mooting and criminal advocacy competitions does your university participate in?

This question was to incentivise you to take the first steps towards participating in one of these competitions. For example, The OUP and BPP National Mooting competition

and the University of Hertfordshire/ Blackstone’s criminal advocacy competition

are two competitions in which OUP are involved. You will see a quote from Sarah Cook, of the Manchester Law School winning team in the 2014 criminal advocacy competition, at the end of chapter 10, to inspire you to give this a go. In terms of PDP (professional development planning) and drafting an impressive CV (see Chapter 16), participation is an excellent way to evidence your teamworking (see 15.4) and other transferable skills such as presentation and public speaking.

Q3. Watch the advocacy in the Miller case, which you considered in Chapter 7, here and make a note of how you might adapt what you have seen into your own practice.

As mentioned in the answer to question 1, you now have the opportunity to watch court proceedings without even having to go to court. This questions encourages you to do just that right now (because…imagine an interview where you have to admit you haven’t ever taken this opportunity…).

Q4. What would you say is the main difference between conducting advocacy and making a presentation? Are there any similarities?

One of the messages I was very keen to communicate in this book was the common threads running through all of the legal skills. In my diagrams and flowcharts, I have shown you where these threads are. The case/ matter analysis for problem solving strategy at Figure 9.1, for example, applies to most of the other skills in some way. I imagine this will be reassuring, because it reveals you are rarely learning a new skill absolutely from scratch.

There are lots of similarities between the skills required to give an effective presentation, and those required to be a successful advocate. Both presentations and advocacy require the skills of reading and understanding law effectively (Chapter 7), legal research (Chapter 8), and case (for presentations, also non-contentious matter) analysis (Chapter 9).

There are also some noticeable differences. When you practice advocacy you are preparing your conclusion in expectation of a response which immediately disputes it (see While you can expect questions after a presentation, they are not always adversarial (although they may be) (see Advocacy can be in writing, so the skills in Chapter 14 will help you. Presentations tend to be exclusively oral, but will often require visual aids or a follow up in writing. Both require persuasion (see Chapter 11, Example 6) and


Q5. From your studies to date, would you describe (or expect) your preference to be towards contentious or non-contentious areas of law, and why?

While the question above highlights the value of observing the common threads between the legal skills, focussing on the differences in the requirements of the various legal skills can be very helpful in analysing your strengths and weaknesses, and informing your choice of the direction in which you take your graduate career.

If you decide that you prefer non-contentious work, Chapter 12 explains that you do not need to disregard the possibility of dispute resultion, because negotiation and mediation rely heavily on the skills required by a non-contentious lawyer. If you like both, then there are areas in which you can practice both (see 7.2).

Q6. Can you construct an argument against an issue you would usually agree with?

This is such a great way to practice the key skill of analysis, during your students and beyond. Lawyers are paid to be able to analyse arguments objectively. This involves us considering both sides of an argument (the arguments and the counter-arguments). Which side we are then paid to voice is really serendipity and beyond our control for many of us (for example, corporate lawyers do not specialise in advising the seller or the buyer, they must be able to advise both), but in some cases the job dictates (for example for criminal defence lawyers). Nevertheless, criminal defence lawyers must also analyse the counter-arguments, because they will have to persuade the judge against them in court.

In interview, of course, graduate employers can test this using any scenario at all, so the more you practice, the more prepared you can be. A few examples to help oyu make a start are:

Remember, the question is encouraging you to argue against your natural inclination. So if you support the arguments above, practice arguing in support of the counter-arguments instead, and vice-versa. If you are stuck, the hyperlinks will help to consider some of the rehearsed arguments for and against.

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