Monday, July 1, 2019

LOOKS (Moot Infinity Stone #4)

We're halfway through the Moot Court Universe (MCU). Three stones down - LAW, LOGIC and LANGUAGE. The next three will complete the Gauntlet...

People tend to judge a book by its cover. That's human nature - an inexorable fact of life. It's true for music, as well as moot.

Until the day when some sort of screening or revolving chairs (like the blind auditions in the 'Voice') is used, there will always be a visual aspect to mooting. Technically, you're only to be judged based on your oral submission. But it's almost impossible for humans to separate the sound of a voice from the face that's uttering it.

Some judges may even argue that body language forms an integral part of advocacy, hence appearance matters. Making eye contact. Posture. Use of appropriate (but not excessive) hand gestures for emphasis.

Some scoresheets in the MCU even include 'demeanour'. This one's a grey area. What does it mean exactly? Is smiling okay or not okay?

Some experienced mooters even wonder cynically whether their immutable traits are being consciously or unconsciously taken into account - and justifiably so. Traits like gender, race and nationality are visual signals that are hard to ignore, try as we might. Profiling is pervasive.

Fair or not, like it or not, mooting is about looking good.

Good looks = standalone movie

* * *

LOOKS is not about natural beauty. Sure, mooters who physically look good have an advantage, whilst having a resting-bitch face may be a slight turn-off.

But ultimately, looking good in the MCU simply means looking the part of a mooter.

So how should a mooter look like?

Mooters should look - and behave - like a lawyer. Simple as that. Your body language is a visual aid to accentuate your voice.

Aren't there judges who are biased towards certain looks?

Of course there are. But hopefully, they are the minority. And in any event, it's beyond your control. You're not a mutant who can change your skin. You can't be someone you're not. You can't stop people from having superficial notions of you.

So just focus and work on the aspects of your looks that you can control...

* * *

Rule #1: Look professional

Start with your attire.

Make sure your clothes are well-ironed and not rumpled. Right size, fits your body snugly. Button up, don't show too much flesh. Coloured suits and ties are fine, but not too flashy. The right dose of make-up for ladies.

And then there's your hair. The gentleman should invest in a good hair gel and comb. For ladies, it can be a bit complicated - short or long, tie like a bun or let loose freely?

Glasses can be a nice cool geeky touch.

Fashion is not exactly my area of expertise. Still, I know enough to know that having a good fashion sense matters, from the eyes of the beholder.

Mooting is not a beauty contest. Still, the judges will be checking you out (not in a creepy way).

"He looks like he just woke up."

"Her skirt is really, really short."

"Do they even know what's court attire?"

Seems trivial, but such minute details say a lot about the professionalism of a mooter. If they, the judges, can suit up well, why can't you, as a mooter? It's about respect. It's about the weight of the occasion.

'A' is for Advocacy, not Ass

* * *

Rule #2: Look prepared

What's that on your table?

Stacks of unbound papers scattered all over. A book or two, stacked up haphazardly like a Jenga tower, teetering precariously.

What do you have with you when you're submitting?

Pieces of handwritten notes. Moot problem, moot problem... oh crap, left on the table!

A messy work-space reflects a messy mind. Frantically flipping through back and forth your notes when posed a question by the judge is not a good sign..

Be organised. Get your stuff in order. Maybe even take a leaf from Marie Kondo's art of decluttering.

It's a matter of preference, of course. Files, sticky notes, tabs, or even fist-size cue-cards. Whatever floats your boat, just make sure you don't load too much till it sinks at the slightest pressure.

Ultimately, judges are impressed when you look in full control of proceedings - not just in the weight and way of your submission, but also of everything else in sight. It's about showing you've done your homework. It's about showing you know your s**t inside out.

* * *

Rule #3: Look poised

Keep calm and exude confidence.

Feeling nervous? Momentarily blanking out? Cornered by the judges?

Even so, you need to maintain your composure. Put on a brave face. Stay strong.

The judges are there to test you. Pull you apart. Break you down.

And so you have to withstand the heat. Courage under fire. Whatever happens, stand your ground.

For if you falter, it's a sign of weakness. That you're uncertain. That you're not even convinced of your own arguments.

But don't go overboard. Don't fight back fire with fire. Don't argue with the judge. Don't be a poser.

Professionalism, preparation and poise all go hand-in-hand. It's the unprofessional and unprepared mooters who usually lose their cool. For when you're professional, even the harshest of jibes from the judges won't rattle you. And when you're prepared, no curve-ball can ever catch you off guard.

When judges talk about 'confidence', what they mean is sounding competent and credible. It's about being comfortable with your own skin. It's about maturity.

Poise or posing?

* * *

In the MCU, you need to sound good, and also look good.

Humans are visual creatures. We succumb to superficial stereotyping. We judge a book by its cover.

But fret not. You don't need to be a model to be a mooter. Looking good in the MCU is not an immutable trait, but a skill that can be learnt.

Ultimately, LOOKS is the way you carry yourself. The way you move. The way you react under stressful conditions.

Hence, any mooter can look good. All it takes is the right attitude. How good your body looks depends on how well your mind thinks. In the MCU, cliche as it sounds, beauty truly comes from within.

And that wraps up the fourth Moot Infinity Stone. Two more to go...

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