Mock Trial for Dummies

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So you want to join Mock Trial? Interested in getting experience at what it’s like in a courtroom? Well, you’re looking at the right place, your school’s Mock Trial team. And no, you’re not un-cool for wanting to join this group. Many people are involved in Mock Trial, from high school, to college. In fact, Mock Trial has grown so large that there are national competitions for high schools and college teams. People join Mock Trial not only to prepare for a career as a lawyer but also to meet and make many friends and to travel the country to face other schools, such as Harvard or Yale. And don’t judge this activity on my description; it’s a lot more fun than it sounds.

Now, before you get started, there are several things you need to keep in mind.

First, Mock Trial is not for everyone. Even though Mock Trial can be fun, it will strain your mind and schedule. Not only do you need to memorize page after page of case material, you have to memorize the rules. Why do you need to memorize rules? You will be using those rules for an entire year on your case. Also you must have time to practice with the team and take time with your coaches to achieve the best way to argue your side. If your school workload is already too high or you need to work many days a week, then think carefully before committing yourself to a team.

Second, Mock Trial is very competitive and with any competition comes emotional drama. It’s hard to believe but tempers do run high in any Mock Trial tournament. It can be said that everyone in these tournaments strives to be perfect in their performance and even the slightest slip up can reduce a person to tears. What’s required for Mock Trial is a sportsmanship attitude and a willingness to accept mistakes.

Finally, commitment is an absolute must on a Mock Trial team. Many people join a team just to quit later on. It is very frustrating for a team and the coaches to have a person quit only weeks before a tournament. It is then up to them to come up with a different plan to make up for the empty spot. They will either bring a new person in who has to memorize your material or they will use a person from another team at the tournament. If you must quit, try and quit after a tournament. However, if you believe that your health, education, or any other person reason is being affected and you must quit immediately, your team and coaches will understand.

So, if you still want to be on a Mock Trial team, you first need to find one. Most, if not all, schools will have a Mock Trial team. Sometimes though, you may have to do a little digging. Some schools have very small and obscure teams that students and faculty barely pay attention to. Ask around or go to your school’s main office and ask for information about Mock Trial. If it turns out that your school does not have a Mock Trial team, talk to your principal or dean. Start a team yourself! Many teachers are very supportive of new clubs. Just find some friends who are interested in joining and talk with some teachers to get started. You’ll need to find support from your school staff and funding so you can travel to other schools and compete against their teams. Also it wouldn’t hurt to mention that even new teams make it all the way to the national tournament.

Now, you’ve joined or made your own Mock Trial team. Before you get started with materials, get to know your teammates and coaches. It’s important that you establish a rapport with your teammates; otherwise you won’t function well as a team. Team work is essential in the court; many teams fail because they simply cannot function with each other. Just like how basketball requires players to be able to pass and work with one another, it’s the same with a Mock Trial team. You need to be able to tell when a fellow attorney or your witness is in trouble and needs help.

Getting to know your coaches is also just as important. Your coaches will be the ones teaching you the material and preparing you for the competitions to come. They are the ones you go to if you have a problem with your schedule, the material, or with other teammates. They will do their best to help you out with any problems. Also getting to know your coaches helps them get to know you and they can see what sort of role in Mock Trial you would be best at.

Next Chapter: Roles

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