I did my first moot back in 2017, during my first year in HELP University. The college offered a module called “Legal Skills” and mooting was one of the topics covered in the module. So that being said, I have had some sort of exposures to mooting back in my college days.
I would say these experiences were invaluable. They were a one-way ticket which pulled me into the world of litigation. It was a privilege as I was able to learn of and understand what a pleading is, the proper manners, in which is used to address the court, and countless etiquettes unbeknownst to me before I was offered this module, and I learnt this all before many of my peers. However, even with this exposure during my college days, my understanding towards the litigation practice was elementary at best.
Mootings back in the day were often quite rushed, and thus most of us did not fully grasp the true intensity and torridity as one would experience in the actual field. Which was reasonably understood considering the fact that a single lecturer needs to care for over 100 students, and over a significantly short period of time. With such a large number of students it is blatantly irrational to think that she would have sufficient time to go through every single document prepared by each individual student thoroughly, AND be able to give feedbacks on each submission individually.
So, I thought to myself, actual practice could not be too different. I also thought that, unlike other professions practicing law would be exactly like it was portrayed in movies/ TV shows; with flashy Armani suits, coy remarks to your opponents whilst being able to bring the argument home with just one simple defining clause, and perhaps a tab bit of romance.
All of which changed after participating in an In-house mooting competition organised by ACC. To which I began to realise unlike the TV shows, actual practice required so much more of us. This realisation came when I was doing individual research on the facts given. Back in college, lecturers came out with hypothetical scenarios and of course we needed to research on the facts given as well, the key difference was, the issues given were usually related to what we had studied in our syllabus. Meaning the issues would be largely limited and related to specific laws taught in class ONLY, anything out of the syllabus you probably would not come across. In practice however, there are no limits as to where the issues would be coming from and to which laws would they relate to.
During the In-House Moot, Not only were we asked to look for cases that spelled out general principles, but Mr Chang wanted us to dive in deeper and search for precedents with similar facts to enhance the case. Being essentially new to this, it made the mooting a lot more difficult for us beginners. We had to look through hundreds of cases, each in great detail, in order to fully understand the facts and reasoning of the judge in each case. Some cases were, to put it in perspective, thicker than any of the books in the Harry Potter Series. That was when I realised, the real standard that was required of a lawyer. It was not solely about understanding the law or simply citing cases, but using your knowledge and skills to pick out the most suitable weapon for your particular case.
The judges for the moot were two well-established lawyers, Mr Kenny Lau and Ms Peggy San both of whom were Mr Alex’s interns just a few years prior to us joining ACC. They were fully dedicated to their roles and critiqued as any justice of a court of law would. They threw at us real, hard, relevant questions of which we were not prepared for, thereby taking us aback leaving us flabbergasted and lost. Which was when I came to my senses and realised the most important part of it all, was being able to answer all questions asked by the judge
After experiencing this moot in a setting far similar to real life practices (rather than a college setting). I have come to the realisation and conclusion that being a practicing lawyer is not as easy or as fashionable as one may think. Real lawyers need to be incredibly dedicated and willing to sacrifice many, many waking hours just for a single case. Patience, perseverance, grit and so many other qualities are needed to mould one into becoming a good lawyer. I have to thank Mr Alex for making me understand this.
Soo Tien Ren Jordan