Moot Court vs. Law Journal: What You Need to Know

It is considered an honor to participate in a law school's moot court or law journal projects, but which activity is right for you? These two programs offer very different experiences that are typically useful when pursuing very different career tracks. Understanding your career goals can help you decide whether involvement is the right decision for you. However, moot court and law journal are also valuable opportunities to try out a form of practice without having to commit entirely.

Which is More Prestigious?

In nearly all contexts, participation in a school's law journal is considered a greater accomplishment than participation in moot court. Law journal participation has traditionally been limited to the most talented and successful law students and an invitation to work on your school's law journal is likely to be viewed as a significant accomplishment. Law journal participation may be particularly helpful if you are interested in pursuing a judicial clerkship and other areas of practice whose focus requires a significant amount of research and written filings.

Moot court participation is not without its fans, however, especially among litigators and small to mid-sized law firms. Larger firms tend to be less concerned about litigation experience because their junior associates will spend years assisting partners with legal matters, gradually obtaining courtroom experience in the process. Smaller firms, on the other hand, need their lawyers to be ready to start going to court almost immediately and moot court experience can help demonstrate your ability and willingness to argue matters to a judge and jury.

The generally better impression given by participation in law journal should not be the only factor in your consideration, however. An introvert may find moot court an ideal opportunity to learn public speaking skills that will be invaluable later in their career. On the other hand, a true extrovert may find the scholarly atmosphere of law journal unexciting and stuffy. Moot court teams often form strong relationships and participating in moot court competitions offers unique opportunities to network with the lawyers and judges that serve as mentors, coaches, and judges.

Some schools are particularly well known for their law journal or moot court programs. Participation in one of these leading programs is likely to be among the most prestigious opportunities available at law school.

Prominent Law Journals include:

Leading moot court teams include:

Why Not Both?

When weighing your options it may be tempting to simply participate in both moot court and law journal. This could be an unwise decision, if your school's law journal and moot court committees would even permit such a thing.

Law school alone requires an enormous amount of time and attention. Law journal and moot court participants are expected to commit to a significant amount of participation. Moot court teams meet regularly to practice developing and delivering legal arguments, draft briefs, and traveling to participate in competitions. The law journal team has regular editorial meetings as well as time devoted to legal research, briefing cases, proofreading articles, checking citations, and other activities. Finally, law journals (and some moot court programs) may require that you maintain an exceptionally good GPA in order to qualify for inclusion.

Ideally, your participation in moot court or law journal will enrich your law school experience and provide you with opportunities to showcase your abilities. Stretching yourself too thin could result in less impressive output and, worse still, negatively impact your grades. For this reason, most students are best off choosing the activity that suits their personality and goals and committing their energy to focusing on their classes and single extracurricular activity.

Make Informed Decisions

Law school is full of important decisions and critical crossroads. Although you will always be the person best able to determine the right course for yourself, you'll make the decisions that result in a happy and successful legal career when you are well-informed. Follow the link to explore FindLaw for Law Students helpful articles and materials covering topics ranging from the LSAT to the bar exam.