Club Spotlight: Mock Trial

Julia Sebastianelli ‘23, Guest Columnist

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Are you still contemplating what clubs to join? Maybe you’re a first year who doesn’t know if you want to stick with activities you’re familiar with,  or maybe try out something completely new. Maybe you’re an upperclassman who is looking for a spontaneous change this year. This week’s Club Spotlight will highlight a club that could be viewed as more serious and intimidating. While it does require dedication, Mock Trial is a fun way to get to know new people while trying out law before going into the profession.

Mock Trial has students simulate a real trial, with six students from each team competing at one time: three attorneys, and three witnesses. Both teams must prepare arguments for the prosecution/plaintiff side and the defense side since they won’t know which side they will be representing until the competition begins. Dickinson College Mock Trial, DCMT for short, competes in the American Mock Trial Association, an organization that hosts tournaments for undergraduate students. According to the American Mock Trial Association website, the AMTA currently hosts 32 regional tournaments, eight opening round championship tournaments and a national championship tournament each season, with approximately 700 teams from over 400 universities and colleges competing. 

This year will be vastly different for returning members of mock trial, as the executive board is all new. Seniors graduated and many returning members went abroad, but the new board is dedicated to making this year a good one. They formed a new Pre-O, implemented workshops for new members to learn basics before case work starts, and started new social traditions like group cafeteria dinners after practice to help the team feel close. They also reached out to schools to set up new tournaments to get more practice before regionals. 

Club meetings help prepare the team for tournaments by preparing case materials. A regular club meeting will usually split members into attorney/witness pairs to work on individual direct examinations and witness preparation. Different teams within the club will sometimes scrimmage each other before important competitions to get even more practice. At tournaments, you will compete against other colleges in four rounds, two rounds on Saturday and two rounds on Sunday. They get harder as you win and get paired against other winning teams. Awards are given to the highest-ranking attorneys and witnesses, and trophies are given to the winning teams.

I spoke with the new Vice President, Claire Simpson ‘22, about her experience with Mock Trial. While most people first get involved during college, she started in high school because she liked the “mix of real law knowledge with the fun of competition and acting.” Although Mock Trial may be intimidating at first because “The Law” and legalese are “like a second language”, Claire’s advice is to just try it! She states, “It’s worth it in the end.” By doing Mock Trial, your public speaking skills, quick thinking, and confidence will improve. “Like a sports team,” you will also bond with your teammates, making lifelong friends. Claire hopes the DCMT “will be crushing tournaments this year” and her parting words were, “I love Mock Trial!”