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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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On the Mootness of Moot Court

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
Go to Comments | 4 Comments

My girlfriend brought up an interesting point the other day. The word “moot” has two quite contradictory meanings. The more common one is of meaninglessness – rendering a legal proceeding without effect or depriving it of practical significance. Moot can also mean “to raise an issue” or “arguable.” Apparently this is transatlantic mistranslation, the latter being the original or British meaning and the former an American creation.

So which is moot court? A law school exercise in which to raise an issue or argument? Yes. A law school exercise without effect or deprived of practical significance? Yes, that too. These contradictory meanings are more descriptive than either one alone. Moot court arguments are academic exercises, yet we can only really learn from them if we suspend our disbelief and tackle them as if our clients lives or livelihoods depended on it. One does not find inner peace in moot court unless it means everything and nothing at the same time.

P.S. This insufferable post is my way of procrastinating on a brief for the Vis. Now back to our regular programming…

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Category: advice to law students, moot court

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4 Responses

  1. Mark Bennett says:

    Good point. “Mock” has (at least) two meanings too. Is a mock trial a trial arranged for training or practice, or is it an event at which law students make a trial seem laughably unreal?

    Yes.

  2. ERA says:

    Does that make said girlfriend’s original musings equally insufferable?

  3. lukegilman says:

    of course not, though I think you’re outing yourself ;-)

  4. lukegilman says:

    I was certainly guilty of invoking both meanings the year I did mock trial.

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