Tryout 2008 FAQ
Below are questions and answers from other prospective members. Feel free to email anyone on the Exec Board with questions.
What is Mock Trial?
What does the Mock Trial Team at Case Law do?
How is Mock Trial different from Moot Court?
Can I participate on Mock Trial and a Journal, Law Review, or Moot Court?
Is there a lot of writing involved?
What is the practice schedule?
Are my grades part of making the team?
Is there one “style” for Mock Trial members?
What is the most important part of tryouts?
How much time does mock trial take?
I'm not sure how to do a direct or cross or anything. Can I still try-out?
Mock Trial is a competition where teams face off on opposite sides of a “case” to conduct a trial. In a civil case, one team argues for the plaintiff, the other for defense. In a criminal case, one team represents the State (the prosecution), while the other team represents the defense. Generally, other team members play the witnesses, although in some competitions professionals (like doctors in a medical malpractice case) are brought in to play some witnesses.
In Mock Trial, teams make an opening statement, call friendly witnesses for direct examination, cross examine hostile witnesses called by the other team, and deliver a closing argument. They introduce evidence and may use demonstrative enlargements of evidence. A judge presides to control the trial and rule on evidentiary objections, and there is a jury present. Usually, the judge and jury score teams to decide which team wins.
The Case Law Mock Trial Team trains students for trial advocacy through competition preparation, consisting of preparing a theory of a case, and opening statement, direct and cross examinations, closing argument, and evidentiary objections and responses. We participate if four competitions per year, and every member is able to litigate in at least one competition.
Mock Trial covers the portion of a case where you argue evidence, gather testimony, and build the record (usually in front of a jury, but in the case of a bench trial, in front of the judge). After a case has been decided on the trial level, it might be appealed. That’s the stage where a panel of judges reviews the records for errors—that is, did the trial judge err in any rulings of decisions? This is what Moot Court covers: arguing to a panel of judges.
In terms of the actual program process, Mock Trial involves working with a case problem (a complaint, an answer, depositions, etc.) and prepping witnesses to prepare for a live trial. Moot Court involves working with a record, writing briefs and arguing the law to a panel of judges. There are no witnesses called or facts argued in Moot Court, because the record is already set at the trial phase.
Sure. Many of our members are on a journal or moot court, and many find that the skills they learn on Mock Trial are beneficial to their work in other programs.
We do not write briefs or prepare written motions for trial. You will be expected to prepare your parts of the case in writing in the early stages of preparation, although we encourage you to get “off-notes” and work on style as quickly as you are comfortable. Moreover, as you can never know exactly what evidence or testimony will come out at trial, you may well “improvise” portions of your trial as needed.
The team meets one evening during the week and Saturday mornings, as long as there is a competition pending. Competitions for both semesters are complete prior to finals time, so we do not meet during that period.
No. We base tryouts on your ability to prepare and deliver a case at trial. We focus on style and poise.
Not at all. We encourage members to find their own style, and often find the most successful teams have members with very different styles. For tryouts, you should focus on being able to speak with confidence and maintain your composure, not on mimicking a particular type of litigation style.
We are looking for people who are willing to go for it at tryouts; we don’t expect you to be an expert already. Have energy, gusto, put in some time for preparation and ask a lot of questions before tryouts.
There’s no question that Mock Trial is a time-intensive program; competing successfully takes a lot of preparation. The results of all that hard work come not only in winning competitions, but also in learning how to operate in a high pressure environment with confidence.
If you are looking to learn a lot, and to compete at the highest level, Mock Trial will not disappoint. If you are looking for an easy way to pad your resume, this is not the place. Employers love to see Mock Trial, and part of that is because they know that we produce strong, capable members.
Of course! We don't expect you to know everything already. You should come to the info sessions, ask questions, and read the information on the website to get a basic idea of what we're looking for and how to prepare these parts. If it feels overwhelming, please feel free to email the Exec Board or a mini-mentor with questions. While tryouts do take some prep time, it shouldn't be overwhelming. We'd like to help you go through the process as efficiently as possible!