Have you ever wondered where the term “moot” comes from? From moot courts! For lawyers-in training, moot trials is where they participate in a simulated academic proceeding to gain an understanding of how a real court works. Students take opposing sides for a fictitious legal problem and argue their case in front of a judge. This allows students to put into practice skills learnt from their law course, from researching and preparing for the case, to drafting and presenting their case to the court.
Besides holding Moot Courts as part of the syllabus, NUS Faculty of Law regularly participates in international Moot Court Competitions!
Some of these international competitions can be quite large, for example, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (or Jessup Moot) saw around 600 participants hailing from nearly 100 countries in 2022. Such competitions tackle a variety of legal issues such as the constitutional rights of religious minorities in pandemic times; legal issues surrounding treaty successions; and even whether a spoken word and dance by three cockatoos would fall under copyright law. Suffice it to say that preparing for such competitions can be a very daunting affair. Thankfully, students receive plenty of help from the Faculty of Law, as well as NUS Libraries.
What started as general research tutorials on public international law in 2010 soon evolved to customised tutorials for competition teams, focusing on specific legal topics and the resources they would require to research their case.
Today, our law librarians support moot preparations as co-teachers of the course, International Moots and Other Competitions. During these sessions, law librarians identify key issues and point students to authoritative resources within our collection as well as open access resources online for students to work on their case research. Our librarians also guide students in using a variety of tools to augment their research, such as LibGuides and customised research handouts on their topics of choice. Last academic year, our law librarians helped to prepare the teams for major global competitions such as the Jessup Moot, the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, and the Oxford International Intellectual Property Moot, just to name a few.
Intensive legal research is the cornerstone of building a strong legal argument. Law librarians are proud to play a part in developing NUS Law students’ research skills by providing valuable advice on legal research. Our hope is that these legal research skills will continue to benefit our students, not only in simulated hearings, but in the real legal cases many of these students will eventually face when they are called to the bar.