Integrating Mini-Briefs and Mini-Moots into Lectures and Seminars

Lawyering Skills in the Doctrinal Classroom (Carolina Academic Press 2020)

24 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2022 Last revised: 18 Feb 2022

See all articles by Anthony Johnstone

Anthony Johnstone

University of Montana School of Law

Date Written: February 17, 2020


Given the way in which nearly all law courses are configured in legal education today, no one course can both bring students to competency in a particular skill and develop a comprehensive understanding of a legal subject area. Skills-focused courses develop lawyering capabilities by requiring that students apply skills deeply to a narrow set of legal issues that may be presented in briefs, arguments, or transactions. Doctrinally-focused courses develop understanding of law by engaging students in a broad range of legal issues with a shallower set of research, writing, and analytical skills. Even within the constraints of the contemporary law school curriculum, there are opportunities to deepen students’ skills-focused experience in doctrinally-focused courses through exercises like mini-briefs and mini-moots, just as there are opportunities to broaden students’ recognition of legal issues in skills-focused classes.

Mini-briefs and mini-moots are self-contained, hands-on simulations that encourage students to engage with course material according to their own interests. These exercises allow students to explore an area of law and discover its relevance to them unhindered by canned issues or proscribed exam questions. Mini-briefs and mini-moots can be undertaken without the heavy time investments that open-ended skills projects or seminar papers typically demand of students and instructors. As law schools aim for a broader range of skills and knowledge outcomes in their graduates, and instructors seek novel ways to connect with their students’ diverse interests, mini-briefs and mini-moots offer simple and efficient means of engaging students in lectures and seminars. Students develop transferable skills, and get to have a little fun, too.

Suggested Citation

Johnstone, Anthony, Integrating Mini-Briefs and Mini-Moots into Lectures and Seminars (February 17, 2020). Lawyering Skills in the Doctrinal Classroom (Carolina Academic Press 2020), Available at SSRN:

Anthony Johnstone (Contact Author)

University of Montana School of Law ( email )

Missoula, MT 59812-0002
United States


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