No matter who you are, talking in front of people can be nerve-racking sometimes. But you’ve got to do it. Whether it be for class, for a presentation at your summer internship, or actually standing up in court, every law student has to speak in front of other people at some point during their law school career. Many law schools provide opportunities for students to practice these skills in the form of oral advocacy competitions. When those competitions come around, you should participate in all of the ones you can. Here’s why.
1. Oral Advocacy Competitions Give Your Resume a Boost
As unsavory of a reality as it might be, every law student is constantly looking for ways to boost the quality of his or her resume. When you apply for jobs, you are often competing against hundreds or thousands of other people for the same position. All of them went to or are going to law school. All of them, presumably, received passing grades in their classes. So law students look for ways to make themselves stand out on their resumes. Oral advocacy competition participation is an easy notch to add to such a resume.
Certainly, if you win or advance far in the competition, you would want to add that to your resume to show potential employers your competence. But even if you don’t win, there’s still value to putting your participation on your resume. If an employer sees that you participated in a moot court competition, for example, that employer knows one of two things: (1) that you are interested in oral advocacy and feel comfortable talking in front of people or (2) that you are willing to push outside of your comfort zone to better yourself. Either way, you have a compelling story about a law school activity to share in an interview and another bullet point on your resume that shows a skill.
2. Oral Advocacy Competitions Build Practical Skills
Not all of us want to be the best trial lawyer in the United States. But whether you want to make a living standing up in court or sitting inside a conference room, you are going to have to speak in public. Obviously, for those who want to be litigators, oral advocacy will help build public speaking skills that you need for a courtroom. But even for those who want to be corporate lawyers, family lawyers, non-profit lawyers, you can still gain valuable skills from these competitions.
Imagine that you, a corporate lawyer, have to pitch a client. You have to build a presentation and convince this client to hire your firm or go with your strategy for the case. You will need to use not only your logic and reasoning, but your oral advocacy skills to pull off this feat. You will need to use powers of persuasion, convincing and understandable rhetoric, and modulate your tone and inflection enough to keep people engaged with what you’re saying. All of this can be learned through practice. And that practice can come in the form of participating in an oral advocacy competition in law school. Challenge yourself to go beyond what is comfortable and try standing up in front of people and convincing them of something. It will pay off with practical presentation skills that can help in any field in which you choose to practice.
3. Oral Advocacy Competitions are Fun!
Even if it’s terrifying for you, these competitions can turn out to be a blast. If you don’t think of it as something with high stakes (because they’re not), then all that’s left is an opportunity to practice useful skills and make new friends and connections, without having any repercussions associated with your performance. These things are fake. So if you mess up, no one cares. Just try it. You’ll often have the opportunity to work in teams, which gives you a good opportunity to meet new people and see different styles of presentation.
Regardless of your level of comfort with speaking in public, oral advocacy competitions are worth a try. You can grow as a speaker, as a lawyer, and as a person more generally if you let yourself take the jump and try one out. You won’t regret it.
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