Hydra: A Creative Training Tool for Critical Legal Advocacy and Ethics

Sara Ramshaw, Adnan Marquez-Borbon, Seamus Mulholland, Paul Stapleton


This article details the development and aims, as well as the key tenets, of the improvisational “game piece,” Hydra, which was invented by the AHRC-funded Into the Key of Law research team, with the input of participants in the initial pilot and discussions with focus group and audience members at various international conferences and events. Hydra is a response to perceived deficiencies in traditional moot court or advocacy training in common law legal education, which is often criticized for failing to adequately prepare advocates to be nimble-footed in the courtroom and able to respond quickly and responsively to unexpected situations or the needs of their clients. In contrast, Hydra, named after the serpent-like water monster with numerous heads in Greek mythology, hones legal argumentation skills, requiring participants to be Hydra-headed and skilled at rapidly analyzing a legal issue from a variety of angles and perspectives, teaching advocates to be prepared for the unexpected. This article focuses on the importance of moulding creative, critical, and ethical legal advocates and how improvisation can be used as a pedagogical tool or practice to inspire such creativity, openness and empathy. In the final section, the authors outline the components or “rules” of Hydra and the deficiencies they think this game piece will address in legal education.


Legal advocacy; improvisation; John Zorn; Cobra; pedagogy; mooting; law school; Hydra

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21083/csieci.v12i1.3751

Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (through both its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives and Aid to Scholarly Journals programs) and by the University of Guelph Library.
ISSN: 1712-0624