Students participate in mock trial and moot court competitions all over the country. From high school to law school, the pressure and nerves ramp up as teams prepare witnesses, finalize arguments, polish their briefs, and seek to advance from local to national level competitions. This also means that lawyers will have plenty of opportunities right around the corner to donate their time.
The various advocacy competitions going on in our neighborhoods are not only great learning opportunities for all students alike, but also an option for fellow lawyers to give back to their communities and to help shape the lawyers of tomorrow. Recently, I participated in two very different advocacy competitions: I scored the Barristers 2011 Mock Trial Competition and volunteered as a presiding judge for the regional ABA NAAC Moot Court Competition here in San Francisco.
The Constitutional Rights Foundation administers the Barristers Mock Trial Competition statewide here in California. The competition provides high school students the chance to learn about our judicial system, improve their analytical and communication skills, and to open their eyes to the possibilities of the future. Each team begins its preparations in September, working with several attorneys who donate many hours of their time. The program culminates in February when the competition begins.
The performance level of the high school students was outstanding, to say the least. The sheer number of hours that were spent preparing their cases and working with their coaches really shined through. As a scorer, I watched and listened carefully and gave each participant a meaningful score. At the conclusion of the trial, you are afforded the opportunity to speak with the students, providing them with feedback and hoping to inspire them to go to college some day, or even law school!
In sharp comparison to the high school mock trial competition, I sat as a presiding judge for the regional rounds of the ever so popular and prestigious annual ABA NAAC moot court competition. It goes without saying that all of the law students who appeared before me were outstanding. Listening to the students and helping them become better oral advocates makes law school worth it and makes that one hour of your time priceless.
My experience scoring and judging for the students was a rewarding and rare opportunity to affect young urban lives and shape the lawyers of tomorrow. Many members of the California legal community volunteer every year. From the obvious pro bono case to the one or two hours you may sit as a presiding judge for a moot court competition, it all counts. It is easy to get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget to give back to others, even in the smallest capacity. Moving onward, we should all try to give a little every now and then and you will find that you get a lot back.
A congratulations is also in order for Baylor Law School, UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, and University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Each of these schools’ teams have secured a spot in the final rounds of the ABA NAAC Moot Court competition taking place in Chicago, Illinois this April.