Helping Tomorrow’s Attorneys Today

Recently, I had the pleasure and privilege to help out a team of University of Texas School of Law students prepare for an upcoming competition hosted by Stetson University in Florida.  I was asked to judge a practice, or “spar” round, whereby the students could practice their advocacy skills in completion-like conditions, with an opposing team and a judge making rulings and asking questions from the bench.  This particular completion is focused on a mock pretrial hearing involving issues of evidence suppression under the 4th Amendment, the admissibility of an expert witness’s testimony, and a defendant’s motion to sever his trial from that of his co-defendants in a mock federal conspiracy charge.

These trial advocacy programs are always in need of experienced attorneys who can act as coaches, mentors, and judges for their various teams.  Each time I lend a hand (in a large or small way) to a trial advocacy event, I always find it very energizing being around these driven, upcoming professionals.  We lawyers and lawyers-to-be tend to be of a competitive nature.  And the law students who actively seek to pit themselves against their peers in legal advocacy contests are can be the most competitive of the bunch.  I never fail to be impressed by the diligence and hard work these students bring to the fight.  If you are a lawyer, don’t be shy about lending a hand; it’ll do you good.

Not to sound like a dinosaur, but when I was in law school, most trial advocacy competitions focused on the old standby classics of Moot Court (appellate arguments) and Mock Trial (jury trials).  While these were fun and instructive, I would have welcomed the more expansive opportunities that today’s law students can take advantage of when it comes to competition.  Today, there are competitions embracing many facets of the legal practice, such as the aforementioned pretrial hearings, meditations, negotiations, voir dire, brief writing, and more.

If only there was a competition entitled “Fee Setting and Fee Collection”.  Now that would be something!

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