ABA Journal


Legal Rebels Profile

You know about moot court—but Karl Okamoto wants students to practice moot deals

Sep 4, 2013, 02:05 pm CDT


I would like someone to look I to why moot court and law review are so vaunted and highly regarded at the expense of those that actually worked for an attorney while in school. Those skills are far more valuable and tend to make better attorneys than the most court nerds in my experience.

The people who worked during school have more drove and ambition, while also having far more practical knowledge, than even the best performer of moot court at a T14 school. Given a choice between the two, I always hire the person with real world work experience. But then again, I’m not a federal judge or looking for someone with fact credentials that I can show off in my Big Law firm. I want results.

By Wouldn't you like to know on 2013 09 06, 9:34 am CDT

If he means the ones that don’t close and you don’t get paid, I think it is actually better to avoid practicing “moot deals.”

By B. McLeod on 2013 09 06, 12:21 pm CDT

Right on Mr. Okamoto!  If you need a professor, let me know.
I have leared everything I apply to negotiating from practice, not from schooling.
One part of me, however, does not want to share my knowledge, though, because it is not susceptible to rote learning and in application may be lost on those limited to that type of learning.

By DeadHead on 2013 09 06, 1:18 pm CDT

Moot court might be useful for those who go directly from law school to appellate advocacy.  (Precious few of those, I suspect.)

Law review has some benefits.  First, it’s the USDA stamp of approval; one generally doesn’t make law review without some ability to read and write cogently.  Many journals also allow students to “write on” – a valuable counterweight to the randomness of law school grading.

Biggest benefit is from actually *being* on the review.  If the associate working for me has journal experience, there will be fewer typos in the work product.  The case citations will be done correctly.  The cross-references in the contract will have been checked.  The name of the investment bank client will be correctly spelled on the face of the prospectus.

Bottom line – after 30 years of practice I’ve seen a direct correlation between working on one’s law review and the quality of work product.  Doesn’t matter which school’s review, either.

By Because it Works on 2013 09 06, 2:37 pm CDT

I think this is a great idea. I decided less than a year into law practice that I could not see myself doing litigation for much longer, and started solo doing transactional work and mediation/ADR. My job satisfaction greatly increased with this change, I got clients more easily, and I feel like I am doing work which is a much better fit for me. Oh, and there’s much better work-life balance, and lower overhead costs, too. There are many lawyers for whom the kind of work I do is much better suited for them than litigation is, and would like lawyering much more doing this. Introducing these other options to them in law school would help them learn that sooner rather than later (maybe before they leave the profession due to dissatisfaction), would help them be ready to go right away, and make the best use of their talents. Way to go, Prof. Okamoto!

By Young Solo on 2013 09 07, 12:03 am CDT

Karl is a pioneer in the legal academy.  This is a terrific idea and he is solving hard problems about how to better train deal attorneys.  This coverage is well deserved. 


By Brad Bernthal on 2013 09 07, 2:17 am CDT

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