MY EXPERIENCE

I began my advocacy journey while in my first year with participation in webinars, workshops and seminars on learning the rudiments of advocacy and what it takes for one to thrive in it. Basically, as at then, I had keen interest in Litigation (even till now, my interest is not as intense as it used to be. Lol). Consequently, I dedicated my full time to committing myself to great learning of what advocacy (participation in moot and mock competitions) entails. While as a fresher, I was drafted into a chamber (out rightly the best chamber in my faculty at the moment) where I could learn more about advocacy, participate directly in moot and mock competitions and enjoy the leverage to perfect any craft in me. I was directly coached and trained by my seniors who showed me the way to get things done – precisely what it takes to thrive in it. I was thirsty for knowledge and eager to learn everything it takes but I later figured out the learning is a gradual process as it never stops.

I was well coached and was given the necessary exposure to the life in advocacy. I was made to realize that full commitment to this new life would preclude me from access to every social life a student on campus would wish to enjoy. But I settled within myself that since I am on an academic journey, I need not bother about social life as such – very hard to conclude as I am a social type, I just had to accept things that way.

In my first year, I participated in my first moot competition within my faculty when I led my team from my chamber through intense preliminary rounds to the semi finals before I faced a seemingly tougher team. Lol. At every stage, I always learned new things. Most importantly, the role of ‘confidence’ and ‘delivery’ in oral advocacy. I did not stop there, I went back to my drawing board to catch more glimpse of what I still needed to learn, meet up with more senior colleagues within the faculty and outside the school, attended more webinars, and watched keenly the court appearance of senior colleagues.

Then in my second year, I was more eager to put everything I have learnt and observed into practice. I participated in another moot competition in the first semester of my second year, led my team again and emerged best counsel in two consecutive preliminary rounds of the competition. While this is not to tooth my horn but I would say the best counsel awards gave me more recognition beyond my chamber, to the entire faculty as a whole.

However, I knew I still needed more things to learn as I was not satisfied with my records. So I did not get relaxed but rather thirsty to learn more. I sought more knowledge from new moot tutors.

Suffice it here to say that my great thirst in advocacy was firstly spurred while I was a law aspirant by the sterling records of my seniors who have gone ahead of me. I read their stories online and I was wowed by their feats, how much they have achieved and how far they had gone. I was ready to take up the mantle upon my resumption and give my own best. I was not so sure where my best would lead me to, but I was certain my best would lead me somewhere – I can not learn and practice so hard and not get a giant leap, was my full conviction. Upon resumption, I heard directly from my seniors a more elaborate story of the great successes the seniors who had gone far ahead made during their undergraduate days. I was motivated by all these and was ready to give my own best.

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In the early period of the second semester of my second year, I participated in another moot competition where my team made it to the finals and I was once again awarded the best counsel of the final round. The moments are still fresh in memory but the records was not enough, after all, man is insatiable. Lol. I made all these participations while lectures were ongoing. I know you would care to know how it was balancing these extra curricular activities with my class lectures and academics. It has not been so easy thus far balancing it out but i cannot rule out the place of passion. Before I took up the mantle, I was ready for everything it would take and was ready to ensure my academics does not suffer from my keen participation. And anywhere issue arises, I was always prepared to correct the anomaly – everything banks on readiness, if there is a will, there must be a way.

My greatest participation in Moot and Mock Competitions took place during the prolonged strike. Before I committed myself to further participation in this competition, I decided to intern in a leading litigation firm in my state where I was further exposed to rules of court, drafting of court processes, court languages, considerable appreciation of court procedures, development of legal research skills and so much more. After learning a significant amount of all these, I rounded off my internship and travelled down to my school for preparation for national competitions. I proceeded for my first national competition in Delta State alongside one of my senior colleagues where we were listed among the schools with the best court appearances and we were therefore awarded plaques, laurels and cash prizes which we took down to our faculty.  I represented the faculty in more national competitions before the strike ended and it all ended in good notes with great recognition of the oratory skills I and my teammates displayed.

While you would right now feel I have done much, I was yet unsatisfied that I have done little and there was still much to learn. It imperative to state that my participation in national competitions got me exposed to many other new things as regards advocacy (moot and mock competitions), competing with other brilliant and sharp brains from other schools really got me exposed. I made connections with these students, learn from them also and now we all still keep contacts, or even, we are more of close friends now. We share daily tips of more principles of advocacy and discuss career plans. The exposure has been great and really helpful.

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During the days I had intensive learning about what advocacy entails, I decided to watch YouTube videos of moot appearances of law students from different parts of the world. I was intrigued by the level the oratory and drafting skills have taken some students to or out rightly how far they had gone, traveling to top countries across the world for participation in moot competitions.  I believed this rare feat can be achieved only if I keep learning and practicing. Thus, early this year, I decided to participate or show interest in an international law moot competition. It is the most prestigious and biggest moot court competition for law students across the world – The Philip Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. I was at first reluctant to participate reasons being that I was still in my third year and was yet to offer international law. However, I had to abandon my worries because after all, the moot competitions I have all participated in, the subject matter of the facts have most time been on areas of law I have not been lectured on. They are things I always have to study myself.

As a result of this, I started drafting my arguments and practicing for the Jessup Competition. I represented my school alongside a senior colleague in the competition. We are paired against top schools in Nigeria from the preliminary rounds to the semi finals and finals of the competition. We made it to the finals of the competition and during the Judges’ pronouncement (after the round), we were announced as the winner of the competition having beaten our opponent with over 20 marks gap. We were thereafter informed that our victory has earned us a pride of place and a rare feat to represent our country in the international round of the competition in Washington D.C, United States of America where we will be competing with top schools from all over the world. It sounded surreal to me. I was finding it hard to put my thoughts right, align my reasoning and bring myself out of sudden shock the information subjected me to. Immediately, I created in my head a picture of what my traveling to the United States could look like. I found myself in-between myriads of thoughts; did I just make it to travel out to the United States? Of all countries, why United States? Will I really be getting the most reputable United States Visa? These thoughts and more left me puzzled that till now I cannot explain rightly how I felt when the information came.

With the necessary supports from my school, in the month of April, I and my teammates made our way to the United States. Unbelievable right? (It is still a moment that would take a full day or more to share). I was thus made to represent my school and my country at large in the United States in the international round of the Philip Jessup Competition. My team and I competed with other brilliant minds from top schools in the world; Harvard University, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Columbia law school, King’s College, Amsterdam University etc (over 138 schools in the world). The competition was really intense with great exposure to many things, connections with sharp and brilliant minds (law students) and with distinguished and top legal professionals in the world, with reputable law firms legal experts like White and Case LLP lawyers, among others.

Resoundingly, you would by now feel I have achieved much more than before. However, i still feel this is little and will not stop learning. I think this just open the floodgate to look into the bigger picture of what hard work and consistency can bring. Thus, since I am human – quite insatiable, I will not stop learning and practicing. This is beginning of another chapter!

Benefits of Participating in Moot Competitions – Why a Law Student Should Take it Seriously.

The benefits of participating in moot competitions is numerous and not exhaustive. The more you participate in competitions, the more you figure out the benefits that accrues to you via your participation.

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Foremost, participating in advocacy competitions builds your confidence and sharpen your oratory skills. It kills your stage fright. Ordinarily, there is hardly a place, podium, or even before a large crowd that you would not be able to speak. This participation would make you have a full control of any stage as if the world is your oyster.

Also, the participation will expose you to different areas of the legal profession aside what you are being taught within the four walls of your classroom. It even makes you see in practice the theoretical principles you are being taught in class.

Furthermore, the experience you get from moot activities do go a long way in smoothing your paths most especially when you are trying to find a niche for yourself in the legal profession to specialize in. You just cannot tell where you would get to (with moot activity) that would cause a huge impact or  contribute immensely to your knowledge of law or general knowledge about the legal profession.

In addition, moot and mock competitions is the best extracurricular activity a law student can engage himself or herself in. In fact, I out rightly believe that moot and mock competitions should not be best regarded as ‘extracurricular activity’. This is because moot and mock activities have its way of contributing to academic performance in class – you just have to be smart and know when to apply some things.

Having said all these, it is imperative for me to reiterate that my experience thus far as a moot and mock enthusiast has been an interesting, educating and a worthwhile venture. And that the benefits that accrues from participation is expansive, limitless and awesome.

Written by Oluboyo Taiwo LLB (in view)