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cammyfawkes

To Clinic or to Moot?

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Posted (edited)

Hey all,

I am in the fortunate position of having been offered a spot on both my school’s team for a national moot, and in our community access legal clinic in my 2L year. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience making this choice before. 

I am currently leaning towards the moot because I loved the 1L moot and am interested in getting into litigation in the public interest field, with the goal of clerking after my 3L year. 

Here’s the breakdown of my thought process:

Moot:

+ Prestigious to be selected for

+ Will gain experience working with a real litigator 

+ Personal interest in the topic area 

+ Workload weighted toward spring term (important since 2L spring grades will matter for OCI’s now)

- More work than the one course credit I get for it suggests 

Clinic:

+ Demonstrates interest in the field of public interest 

+ Real world court experience 

+ Will almost certainly gain a strong reference from the program’s supervising lawyer 

- Workload spread evenly across year 

- A more widely available opportunity that might make me stand out less than a moot 


Any insights are appreciated!

Edited by cammyfawkes

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The clinics at my school were waaaaaaay more work than they were worth (one course credit). Everyone I know who did one regretted it.

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I will probably be offside from a lot of people on this board, especially those still in law school. 

My advice would be to do what interests you the most. What are you passionate about? Forget about what it looks like on a resume. Forget about what makes you stand out more. Because in the end all of the gunners are going to have the same stuff on their resume. 

As someone who has interviewed med school applicants I can tell you that the applicant who has done something to "stand out" or look good on paper can be spotted a mile away. The person who is passionate, engaged and truly interested in what they have done stands out and is what you look for. 

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I have had this dilemma in the past, and I made room in my schedule to do both. Do you absolutely have to choose one? Both experiences padded my resume and enriched me as a person and future lawyer. It certainly makes for a busy year, but if you can do both without compromising your other courses and commitments, I would recommend it. :) 

In all honesty, they're both such different experiences (generally), and you will find them both very enriching. Personally, I found the clinics to be more enriching because my work had a real impact on people's lives. I saw the look on their face when I helped them, and you can't put any amount of "prestige" on that. I actually ended up doing 3 clinics during law school (2 for credit, and 1 as a volunteer). 

The moot is great for all those reasons - and yes, it is very heavy in terms of workload. But what it boils down to is that it gives you an opportunity to work on your writing and public speaking skills, which will be of use to you in other courses and when you practice.

You mention references - you can get that for both (or any activity, tbh) if you work hard and work the connection with your supervisor. My moot coach has written me so many reference letters and has become a great mentor.

Anyhow, if you have any further questions, feel free to PM. :) 

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Do the moot, because your list of pros and cons illustrates that you don't care at all about the people the clinic serves, so it would be better for everyone involved for the slot to go to someone who does.

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Really sounds like you should do the moot. Seems more in line with your goals and interests. 

You can probably still get involved in a clinical experience in 3L if you want. 

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2 hours ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Really sounds like you should do the moot. Seems more in line with your goals and interests. 

You can probably still get involved in a clinical experience in 3L if you want. 

I second this advice!

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2 hours ago, CleanHands said:

Do the moot, because your list of pros and cons illustrates that you don't care at all about the people the clinic serves, so it would be better for everyone involved for the slot to go to someone who does.

I really did assume that it goes without saying that I’m not going to apply for a clinical program unless I care about the work that I would be doing in it (and have been doing, since I volunteered with the program all of last year). But I suppose you make a good point about how my listing of pros and cons might reflect my existing preference, so I thank you for the honest feedback. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, OWH said:

I will probably be offside from a lot of people on this board, especially those still in law school. 

My advice would be to do what interests you the most. What are you passionate about? Forget about what it looks like on a resume. Forget about what makes you stand out more. Because in the end all of the gunners are going to have the same stuff on their resume. 

As someone who has interviewed med school applicants I can tell you that the applicant who has done something to "stand out" or look good on paper can be spotted a mile away. The person who is passionate, engaged and truly interested in what they have done stands out and is what you look for. 

Good advice, but the problem here (I should have written my OP more thoughtfully) is that they both interest me and I know I’m going to be passionate about whichever one I choose. On the one hand, I volunteered with the clinical program in 1L and I really did love helping deserving people. On the other hand, the moot topic is also related to public interest and administrative law which is more in line with my ultimate career goal. That’s where my dilemma comes from. 

Edited by cammyfawkes

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52 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

Is there a reason you can't do both?

In my experience, both involve a large time commitment. Taking both simultaneously would likely be very stressful and detrimental to other courses being taken.

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55 minutes ago, canuckfanatic said:

In my experience, both involve a large time commitment. Taking both simultaneously would likely be very stressful and detrimental to other courses being taken.

I agree with this, having done both. I had absolutely no life outside of school while I was doing it, just so that I could also keep my grades up. But I was okay with that at the time, and I was in the position to do it since I didn't have many other commitments... If you're willing and able to make the sacrifices, then do it. Otherwise, stick to one and do your best - you'll still learn and grow tremendously.

Probably should have mentioned it above :P 

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Well, you can either do law, or more prestigiously pretend to do law. I can't deny there are pros and cons associated with each, but it really is that simple to me. And the choice you make between them will definitely help you identify your priorities. 

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Just now, Diplock said:

Well, you can either do law, or more prestigiously pretend to do law. I can't deny there are pros and cons associated with each, but it really is that simple to me. And the choice you make between them will definitely help you identify your priorities. 

This, absolutely. I had fun with the mandatory 1L moot and actually had professors involved with the mooting program encourage me to apply for the competitive moots (which was flattering). But ultimately the choice between clinics and moots wasn't even a question for me (and I legit couldn't do both because I maxed out my experimental credits doing two different clinics). I viewed it as the decision to practice law or to cosplay as someone practicing law. I get that some top legal talents coach and judge competitive moot teams but I don't really understand why and consider it a waste of people of their abilities.

The OP responded to my comment nicely enough so I didn't want to double down, but even putting aside my impression of their list (and what was conspicuously absent from it), I don't think anyone who actually had a strong interest in helping real people with real legal problems would need to give this any thought.

Also to respond to @easttowest's point, yes, the clinics I took were far more work than the credits I received reflected. And to address @canuckfanatic's point, taking two clinics simultaneously absolutely negatively impacted my performance in my coursework. Those are both valid concerns. But regardless, since we're all trading anecdotes and all, personally I have zero regrets about my clinical experience, and the clinics were by far the most interesting and rewarding aspect of my law school experience.

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2 hours ago, canuckfanatic said:

In my experience, both involve a large time commitment. Taking both simultaneously would likely be very stressful and detrimental to other courses being taken.

Yes, I'm aware of the time commitment, having done both back in the day. ;) 

If the OP can only do one, I would suggest choosing the clinic.

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I did a term at Osgoode's clinic and it was probably the single best thing I've done for my career.

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5 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

Yes, I'm aware of the time commitment, having done both back in the day. ;) 

If the OP can only do one, I would choose the clinic.

Any advice on doing both at the same time? I know everyone’s experiences will vary, but what worked for you and what would you have done differently in hindsight?

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7 hours ago, cammyfawkes said:

Hey all,

I am in the fortunate position of having been offered a spot on both my school’s team for a national moot, and in our community access legal clinic in my 2L year. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience making this choice before. 

I am currently leaning towards the moot because I loved the 1L moot and am interested in getting into litigation in the public interest field, with the goal of clerking after my 3L year. 

Here’s the breakdown of my thought process:

Moot:

+ Prestigious to be selected for

+ Will gain experience working with a real litigator 

+ Personal interest in the topic area 

+ Workload weighted toward spring term (important since 2L spring grades will matter for OCI’s now)

- More work than the one course credit I get for it suggests 

Clinic:

+ Demonstrates interest in the field of public interest 

+ Real world court experience 

+ Will almost certainly gain a strong reference from the program’s supervising lawyer 

- Workload spread evenly across year 

- A more widely available opportunity that might make me stand out less than a moot 


Any insights are appreciated!

How is “working with a real litigator” not also in the clinic column? Who is supervising your clinic work? 

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My $0.02: you have your entire article/career to do legal work and get "real world" court experience. But if you are accepted into a good national moot with good coaching, take the opportunity! It's a privilege to be coached well, and you'll never receive that kind of focused attention on your writing and oral advocacy once you start articling.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, unsospiro said:

My $0.02: you have your entire article/career to do legal work and get "real world" court experience. But if you are accepted into a good national moot with good coaching, take the opportunity! It's a privilege to be coached well, and you'll never receive that kind of focused attention on your writing and oral advocacy once you start articling.

I know others have trashed mooting as "make believe" because they are focusing on the performative aspect of mooting, but would you say that mooting provides a great opportunity to sharpen one's legal research skills?

Throughout the summer, I've been speaking with lawyers in a practice area I'm interested in and it seems like doing a clinic isn't as important as being someone who can produce work that senior lawyers can rely on (e.g. writing a solid research memo). Ideally I'd like to do both a clinic and a competitive moot, but if I had to prioritise one and I'm concerned about sharpening my research skills, should I aim for a moot?

Edited by Twenty

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