Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

The Proceedings of the NYU Moot Court Board, or just “Proceedings,” is the online journal of the NYU Moot Court Board, documenting new approaches to unsettled legal questions proceeding from moot court activities, particularly law student competitions.

Proceedings aims to realize for the wider legal community a benefit of mooting that has hitherto accrued only to participants. As most appellate lawyers know, one of the best ways to refine a theory of a case or an area of law is to argue about it, either with colleagues or before law school professors. But student Moot Court competitions, which consider some of the most interesting and intractable problems in law, generate hundreds of hours of formal, inquisitorial analysis of those problems by professors, practitioners, and judges (not to mention reams of legal writing)–and then, too often, the results are thrown away when the competition is over.

No longer. Proceedings is the journal where lawyers and law students can publish their “test results” from the legal laboratory of mooting that tests both old and new approaches to unsettled areas of law. It aims to realize mooting’s potential not only as a valuable educational exercise, but as a productive forum for legal research.

We aim to publish three kinds of pieces.

The mainstay of the journal will be Contributions, published twice a week, which are thesis-driven pieces documenting new approaches to unsettled legal questions developed in a moot court program or competition, whose policy or theoretical implications push legal practice forward. Contributions aim to be short, novel essays useful to policymakers, practitioners, or academics also considering these emerging issues. We welcome Contributions from any authors, provided the Contribution arises as a result of a moot court program. Contributions from NYU student authors will occasionally be unsigned, reflecting those cases where many members of the Moot Court Board besides the author made a contribution, as it were, to that Contribution.

We will also occasionally post pieces Rethinking Mooting, where legal educators and students can discuss and debate the state of the world of mooting. Moot court has been a part of the curriculum of every law school in the United States since the Founding,<fn>Davison M. Dou­glas, The Jef­fer­son­ain View of Legal Edu­ca­tion, 51 J. Legal Educ. 185, 200–01 (2001).</fn> but since the Langdellian revolution in legal education discussion of mooting as an educational activity itself has been thin on the ground.<fn>Bruce A. Kimball, Students’ Choice and Experience During teh Transition to Competitive Academic Achievement at Harvard Law School, 1876-1882, 55 J. Legal Educ. 163, 196 (2005); but see James Dimitri, Melissa Greipp & Susie Salmon, The Moot Court Advisor’s Handbook 8-17 (2015).</fn> This is particularly problematic given the explosion in mooting competitions nationwide. Some of these competitions are good; many are bad; all are expensive. Given the ongoing crisis in legal education, it is high time the promoters and defenders of mooting began to seriously and substantively discuss how to make our offerings better. Proceedings hopes to kickstart that conversation.

Finally, we hope to be a source of mooting news. We will never document the tedious business of which team won or lost a given competition, but will instead seek to cover new developments in mooting itself, such as new and innovative competitions, the use of mooting in the law school curriculum,<fn>See, e.g., Paula Gerber & Melissa Castan, Practice Meets Theory: Using Moots as a Tool to Teach Human Rights Law, 62 J. Legal Educ. 298 (2012)</fn> and commentary and criticism from the wider legal community about appellate advocacy in general and mooting in particular. We candidly confess to an editorial slant: we love moot court and we think it deserves the place it has held in legal education since the days of the English Inns of Court.<fn>Anton-Hermann Chroust, The Beginning, Flourishing, and Decline of the Inns of Court: The Consolidation of the English Legal Procession after 1400, 10 Vand. L. Rev. 79, 81 (1956-1957).</fn> But mooting is not about winning; it is about learning. We hope that this journal can be a place to share best practices and make moot court victories meaningful and losses worthwhile.

About the NYU Moot Court Board

The New York University Moot Court Board is the student journal at NYU School of Law for aspiring legal advocates and an intellectual hub for mooting activities nationwide.

Part conventional journal, part interschool moot court competition team, the Moot Court Board offers students the research, writing, and editing experience comparable to that of a law review while being directly useful to legal practice. More than 100 law schools subscribe to the NYU Moot Court Board Casebook, which each year adds more than a dozen high-quality moot court problems to our existing archive of 80 problems available online.

The Board selects 42 rising 2L members each year as Staff Editors in the NYU Journal Writing Competition. Staff Editors are provided with extensive training before each student writes a moot court problem, participates in an interschool mooting competition, or both. As 3Ls, students manage the journal, compete, coach teams, or edit the Casebook or this journal.

A unique institution at a top law school, the Moot Court Board offers students creative freedom, practical experience, and oral advocacy opportunities no other journal can provide. You can find out more on the Board’s main website.