Competing over Zoom: it’s not moot.

For law students across the country that choose to join Moot Court or Trial Team, spring semester is competition season. As I write this post, I await the start of the preliminary round for my Moot Court competition, which begins in…. t-minus two hours. In a normal world, I would be in Washington D.C., waiting with my team in a federal courthouse to argue our little hearts out before a judicial panel. That’s typically one of the cool perks about doing these competitions, you get to travel to a cool city, argue, and test out your new baby lawyer skills.

But it’s not a normal world, so instead of Washington D.C., I’m once again face to face with my constant companion: my laptop. My moot court competition is over Zoom, and my trial team competition that finished in mid-February was completed virtually as well. I can’t help but reflect on the fact that almost a year ago today, I was preparing for this exact same moot court competition when the world came to a screeching halt. My neatly color-coded planner that organized my entire life of class, trial team, and moot court practice was rendered, well, moot. We worked so hard for months only to never see that hard work pay off, so I’ll admit it’s hard not to feel the familiar feeling of frustration bubbling up as I prepare to argue my case to a computer screen and not in a federal courtroom. The initial reaction is to feel like everything you accomplished had no purpose, no pay off, and was merely a moot point.

But the legal research I had to conduct to write my brief wasn’t moot. The time management skills I had to sharpen to manage both competitions and class weren’t moot. Gaining a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the Rules of Evidence for trial team wasn’t moot. Improving my ability to think on my feet while simultaneously navigating the technical elements over Zoom wasn’t moot. Understanding how to best conduct oneself professionally during a virtual hearing wasn’t moot. Learning the location of the mute button on Zoom was DEFINITELY not moot.

Competing against other law students is daunting, but it also gave me skills I never would have acquired in class. While the last year was nothing like I ever could have expected and certainly nothing that any of us ever wanted, it was instrumental in my growth as a student and an advocate. When you get to law school, seriously consider joining Moot Court or Trial Team to sharpen skills you don’t yet know you have. Everything you do in law school becomes a part of who you are and the advocate you’ll become, so regardless of whether you advocate in person or over Zoom, you can rest assured it won’t be moot.

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