Students Compete at Regional Mock Trial Competition
Six students from Lewis and Clark’s Moot Court: Mock Trial class represented the school at the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) Mock Trial Regionals Competition. The regional competition was held Feb 5-7, 2021, and was hosted by the University of Denver Strum College of Law. In previous years the competitive team traveled to the competition. However, this year, due to COVID, the Regional competition was entirely virtual.
“The regional team is chosen from the students who take the Criminal Mock Trial class each fall semester” stated Ed Kroll, who with Simon Whang has been coaching the team since 2013. “At the end of the class, there was an abbreviated mock trial competition, where the students faced off against each other over cross examinations and closing arguments. The instructors use those scores as well as our observations made over the term to determine which six students will make the team.”
“For students looking to build trial advocacy skills, Mock Trial is the best option available,” stated Pat Sullivan-Lovett ’21. “I am a stronger advocate now than ever before. It can be difficult to get litigation experience while in law school, and Mock Trial provides students with the opportunity to learn on their feet in a high-stakes environment. Representing my school at the Mock Trial Regional Competition this past weekend has been the highlight of my time at Lewis & Clark Law School.”
“I am so thankful for everything that I have learned from Mock Trial,” stated Anneke Banda ’22. “This is one of the best classes to find that “real life” trial experience students are looking for in law school. We had the amazing opportunity to learn from and be critiqued by attorneys from different backgrounds.”
This year the team consists of Anneke Banda ’22, Sage Mist ’22, Pat Sullivan-Lovett ’21, and Rachael English ’22. Carrington Bell ’22 and Kylie Couturier ’22 were selected as the team alternates. The end of class competition also awarded three students Top Oral Advocate: Nicky Blumm ’22, Bijal Patel ’22, and Rachael English.
The competitive team of Sullivan-Lovett and English qualified for semifinals where they faced the eventual tournament champions. “Patrick and Rachael’s performance was especially impressive given that we weren’t able to have our normal end-of-class competition,” stated coach Kroll. “In other words, they made it to the semis without having done a single mock trial before the competition.”
The competitive team of Banda and Mist also had a strong showing in the competition where they won one of three rounds but, unfortunately, did not advance in the competition.
“We are very impressed by the dedication and passion the students exhibited throughout the course, rising to the challenges of virtual instruction,” stated Simon Whang, who has been an instructor since 2013. “This was one of the most engaged and enthusiastic classes we’ve ever had.”
“Mock trial this year was definitely a different experience but it was still invaluable,” stated Mist. “For anyone who might want to litigate in the future this class is a necessity. It builds your confidence, forces you to step outside your comfort zone, and makes you realize that you can actually do something that seems incredibly scary and hard. Mock trial really humanized the legal system and the courtroom for me and left me with a newfound sense of confidence and eagerness.”
The Moot Court: Mock Trial class is a practical skills course, taught by Ed Kroll and Simon Whang, private and public criminal defense attorneys with prosecutorial backgrounds. Amy Velasquez, a criminal defense and family law attorney, and Jenna Plank, a senior attorney at the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, assisted as class instructors. “Weekly classes are devoted to students performing in small groups, then receiving extensive feedback from instructors,” Whang stated. “The class is very interactive, for both students and instructors. One memory that stood out this year was when Ed and I demonstrated opening statements and had students vote on the better opening, with the “loser” (myself) forced to do push-ups in front of the class.”
“Both the class and the regional competition teach invaluable practical skills; it’s a great opportunity to learn oral advocacy, application of evidence rules, and trial strategy while still a student,” stated English. “I would recommend the class to anyone with an interest in litigation.”