Consider the following unattributed sage words of wisdom as special “gifts” to your 2010 team from last year’s competitors. They asked me not to mention their names, saying that their highest reward will be watching you benefit from their advice. The list was originally circulated in 2009.
Still wondering what to say in court, what types of questions judges will ask, what to do if you don’t know the answer, or which advocacy strategies will sway the judges? Here, I offer commentary to accompany the Top 21 Reverse Tips for Moot Court Competitions.
Top 21 “Reverse Tips”
Tip 1. Your memorial states your legal position. Use the oral rounds to make emotional arguments.
Tip 2. Wobbly knees a problem? Try a couple shots of vodka before you enter the courtroom.
Tip 3. When the judges get tough, show your spunk and interrupt by speaking loudly over their questions.
Tip 4. When in doubt, make up facts. Be sure to cite a page number so they do not doubt you. Judges do not read the Compromis / Record.
Tip 5. Remember, the Court is a legislative body and can make law.
Tip 6. If the judges look bored, try telling a joke. Try something along the lines of: “A judge, an oralist, and a bailiff go into a bar, . . . .”
Tip 7. “May it please the Court” is overused. Try frequently using, “May I please the Court?”
Tip 8. Make a team fashion statement: wear matching sport jerseys into the courtroom.
Tip 9. Forget calling the judges, “Your Excellencies.” Instead, call them “Umpires.”
Tip 10. Passing notes is old-fashioned and prohibited. Instead, send SMS text messages to each other during oral rounds.
Tip 11. Tweet from the lectern.
Tip 12. Flattering the judges is risky. Try bribery, or offer a hit from your vodka bottle that you brought for your wobbly knees.
Tip 13. Wink at the judges to drive your point home.
Tip 14. Judges get bored easily. Use large gestures and cast your oral arguments into song.
Tip 15. When in doubt, disagree with the judges.
Tip 16. If a judge asks whether you know of a specific case, always reply affirmatively and then bluff. Judges award points for brashness.
Tip 17. If your argument is going badly, buckle your knees and pretend to faint, forcing a rescheduling before a new bench.
Tip 18. Pretend not to see the “STOP” announcement. You will be able to squeeze in at least another 30 seconds of your final argument.
Tip 19. Judges never ask the same questions so don’t bother to research the answers between rounds.
Tip 20. Because the Compromis and Bench Memo for judges were written at least a year ago, there is no need to research recent cases.
Tip 21. If you want to win the “Best Oralist” award, always make sure your co-agent looks bad.
Best wishes in your moot court competition!
Please contact me (email link on the left side of the page) if you have additional tips to include here.
Additional Resources on Inside Justice
- Jessup Moot Court Competition – 21 Tips from 21 Judges
- Jessup International Moot Court Competition 2009
- What Is International Law? (An Introduction to the Major Sources of International Law, Types of Treaties, and Customary International Law)
- Comparison of the ICJ and the ICC
- United Nations Courts and Tribunals
- What is R2P and the Responsibility to Protect?
- Nuclear Nonproliferation Research Guide
- International Law Glossary and Terms
Research on Treaties
- United Nations Treaty Reference Guide
- Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, May 23, 1969, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331; 8 I.L.M. 679 (1969). Entry into force: 27 Jan. 1980
- Vienna Convention on the Succession of States in Respect of Treaties, 17 I.L.M. 1488 (1978), Aug. 23, 1978, 1946 U.N.T.S. 3.
- Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, in Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Fifty-third Session, UN GAOR 56th Sess., Supp. No. 10, at 43, U.N. Doc. A/56/10 (2001) (with commentaries)
- How to Research Treaties in the United States (by the U.S. Senate)
- ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: Treaties