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Mock Trial Program   

Mock Trial Students

Overview

The Seton Hall Law Mock Trial Program, founded in 2008, enables Seton Hall Law students to hone their trial skills by putting them into practice competitively. Students learn how to conduct a trial from opening statements to direct and cross-examination to closing arguments, in preparation for their participation in national interscholastic mock trial competitions.

Students selected for the Mock Trial Board devote significant time as well as intellectual effort when preparing for these skills competitions, and the benefits of competing are many. Competing students practice and improve their skills in the areas of oral advocacy, fact development, legal analysis, witness examination, and trial advocacy. Preparing for the competitions in teams, students learn how to work collaboratively with their peers. Students gain the invaluable confidence that they can stand up and present a legal argument in a variety of forums. These competitions complement the students’ work in doctrinal classes by requiring them to apply various areas of law to simulated practice. Current students who participate receive one credit per competition (for a total of up to four credits over two years). These credits are considered Skills Credits.

Benefits of Participating in Mock Trial

Participation in Mock Trial enhances student learning in two primary areas: trial advocacy skills and evidence law. Mock Trial builds upon the skills and knowledge that students gain in their Evidence and Trial Skills classes. But mock trial competitions also provide students with a unique opportunity to take ownership over a set of facts and a client advocacy position, fully analyze the factual and evidentiary issues that may arise, and prepare all of the elements of a full length trial. In the area of trial skills, students deepen their expertise in the areas of oral advocacy, fact development, witness examination, and legal analysis.


"Mock Trial has taught me how to command a courtroom. The skills I've learned through practices and competitions are directly transferrable to trial work and have more than prepared me to become an Assistant District Attorney for Bronx County, New York."

KIMBERLY M. LINDENMUTH '19 


Membership on the Mock Trial Board

Who is the Mock Trial Board

The Mock Trial Board (MTB) is a group of Seton Hall law students who are interested in improving their trial advocacy skills and in competing in interscholastic mock trial competitions. There are currently 23 members of the MTB and the Board has two student co-chairs.

Mock Trial Competition

Each semester the MTB selects two or three competitions in which to compete. In order to select a competition, the co-chairs of the MTB and the Director compile a list of possible tournaments and then thoroughly research each option. The MTB has competed in competitions such as the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Trial Advocacy Competition, Texas Young Lawyer’s Association National Trial Competition.

During each competition, students present both sides of a case. For competitions with four students, two students represent the defense and two represent the plaintiff (or serve as a prosecutor). A typical trial lasts approximately three hours. Rounds vary by competition.

The presiding judge and jurors are licensed attorneys and sitting judges. Most are either local attorneys or specialists in the field, depending on the competition. In the case where witnesses are provided by the tournament organizers, witnesses can be anyone including college students, lawyers, judges, or other law students.

Preparing for Competitions

Here is an overview of how team practices are spent:

  1. Crafting theories, themes, and labels for a case

  2. Practicing each portion of the trial repeatedly (i.e. opening, direct, cross, closing)

  3. Brainstorming evidentiary issues and role playing evidentiary objections

  4. Arguing motions and running through the entire trial

Each team of students spend significant time practicing for mock trial competitions. Scheduled practices may occur during the week, on weeknights, or even weekends as the date of competition approaches. Practices are flexible, but required, and a strong commitment to the team is a must. Students can expect to spend significant time working on themes and theories of the case, practicing for competitions, and actually competing.

Pre/Co-Requisites

Evidence and Persuasion and Advocacy are pre-requisites for participating in mock trial competitions. All students on the MTB are required to take Persuasion and Advocacy and Evidence before competing, but students may tryout for the MTB without taking the pre-requisites.

Mock Trial Students

Selecting the Mock Trial Board

New Board members are selected in the fall through a selection competition. The Board will distribute a fact pattern, a copy of Thomas Mauet’s chapter on Opening Arguments from Trials: Strategy, Skills, and the New Powers of Persuasion, and some basic instructions. Students will prepare opening arguments for both sides of the case.  All 2L, 3L, and 4L day/evening/weekend students are welcome to try out. On the day of the selection competition, students are given at least 24 hour notice as to which side they will represent and students perform an opening argument for that side.

The next selection competition will take place in October.

Questions? Please contact us.

Professor Jamie Pukl-Werbel, Assistant Professor of Legal Practice
& Director of the Mock Trial Program (Room 408)
Direct Dial 973-642-8201
Email [email protected]

Kimberly M. Lindenmuth, J.D. Candidate | Class of 2019
Co-Chair | Interscholastic Mock Trial Board
Email [email protected]

William T. Chalmers, J.D. Candidate | Class of 2020
Co-Chair | Interscholastic Mock Trial Board
Email [email protected]