What Do Employers Prefer? Moot Court/Mock Trial or Law Review?

This is a debate that is relatively new to me so I’m looking for a little feedback (unlikely I know). To me, before a few weeks ago, there was a clear answer; Law Review was the premier achievement one could gain in law school. However, a meeting last week got me thinking that maybe it’s not so great; and quite frankly, I’m starting to agree. While the optimal answer is that you should have all three on your resume, the more likely answer involves a choice.

Think about it, what’s more useful in the real world? The ability to cite each and every sentence you write in perfect bluebook format? Or the ability to think on your feet and effectively argue in front of a judge and jury of your peers? Seems clear when stated like that. In truth, you’ll probably spend a good portion of the beginning of your career learning how to NOT write like you did on law review, at least that’s what I was told. It’s just not practical to write a motion or complaint in that manner. Yeah, you learn other things on law review and continually increase your ability to be a better writer, but it’s just not practical writing. What is practical is moot court and mock trial.

With moot court and mock trial you’re learning what it’s really like to be a lawyer, albeit in a more controlled setting. You’re gaining experience arguing before a panel, questioning witnesses, preparing briefs, adapting to opposing counsels arguments, answering questions on varying points of law, and proper conduct in a courtroom. These are all things you’re likely to encounter as a first year associate. How often are you going to be asked to write a note comparing the circuit split between the 4th and 9th circuits? Probably not often. So, while Law Review is great and still a significant achievement, consider moot court and mock trial as well if you want to gain some more practical experience. The attorney I spoke to actually valued moot court and mock trial substantially more than Law Review. I was told Law Review surely won’t hurt me, but it’s not going to help me as much as I once thought it would.

Any additional thoughts?

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