e5Advocacy is often associated with oral advocacy. Mooting, however, as well as practice as, for example, a barrister or advocate, must combine with effective and persuasive oral advocacy with succinct and clear written advocacy to be truly effective. In fact, in civil law systems, written advocacy, through memorials and pleadings, are given greater weight than oral pleadings, if indeed there is an oral hearing. Similarly, in the English common law tradition, and in moots, the written advocacy forms an integral element of the overall moot, and therefore of the decision of the judge. The importance of a skeleton therefore cannot be overstated; this guide aims to give you some helpful tips in that regard.

Tip One: Brevity is your Best Buddy

There is a reason that a skeleton argument is called a skeleton argument. It is meant to form the bare bones of our overall oral argument, and for that reason it must be brief. Mooting competitions will usually set limits of one to two pages; even if they do not, it is inadvisable to extend a mooting skeleton argument beyond two sides of A4 paper.

This means that you have to state your points clearly, and without excess verbiage. If a point can be made in a sentence, it must be; any excess wording will only serve to distract the reader from your argument. Your argument, therefore, must be our next port of call.

Tip Two: Keep the Argument Clear

Clarity is the second virtue of a strong skeleton argument. Oftentimes, mooters are tempted to leave their skeleton argument vague, to enable the argument to move fluidly and react to changing circumstances. This is inadvisable, because most mooting competitions do not bind mooters to their skeleton arguments, and therefore they will be able to move away from them anyway. Therefore, to leave something vague in order to be able to move away from it is a double-fault. On the one hand, a mooter may move from her/his skeleton anyway, and on the other it leaves the skeleton unclear.

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