Mock Trial team places in national competition

John LaCerda

While the construction of a new law school building may be boosting interest from applicants who want to become attorneys, the recent success of its Mock Trial team also enhances the University’s image on a national level.

Two weekends ago, the team competed at the gold-level national tournament in Minneapolis, Minn., and placed 14th overall out of the 64 best teams in the nation.

Club President Ashley Lynam led a squad of young lawyers who argued four different cases of three hours each. Each case consisted of three lawyers and three witnesses and replicated the proceedings of an actual trial.

Law school students from various universities around the country, as well as actual lawyers and judges from prominent firms, ran the event, acting as both judges and jurors.

“The American Mock Trial Association presents cases that force team members to engage in intense and challenging cross examination,” Lynam said. “The subject matter is not always criminal or civil in a traditional sense.”

Lynam decided to join the Mock Trial team when she attended her first Activities Fair during freshman year.

She said she believed that it was the most practical activity because it successfully mirrors the duties and expectations of a lawyer.

The club was formed seven years ago and since then has qualified for the Silver Round of the national tournament four times and the Gold Round twice.

Selection for the Gold Round remains extremely difficult, as the team squares up against some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including the Ivy League schools and such colleges as Duke University, College of William & Mary and University of North Carolina.

Since the creation of the team in 2001, it has grown steadily in not only participation but also performance.

There are currently 585 teams in the country. Each team usually consists of eight to 10 members who review the assigned cases and then judge how it should handled and argued in court

“The trials are as realistic as possible with experienced witnesses and jurors,” Lynam said. “The atmosphere is incredible because students feel as if they are debating a serious crime or violation of law.”

The national tournament is similar to regional competition in terms of the subject matter and the level of contention.

“I’ve realized that being a part of Villanova Mock Trial looks great on a resumé because law schools look for people who have diverse backgrounds and experience with litigation,” Lynam said.

Lynam was accepted to several law schools and plans on continuing her education at Villanova’s School of Law.

Sophomore Mike Curtis joined the team this year because he felt that it provided an excellent foundation for future training and employment with law firms.

“Mock Trial is definitely one of the biggest assets at Villanova,” he said. “Since I am a liberal arts student, I wanted to become involved with an organization that would enhance my speaking skills and at the same time supply me with invaluable instruction on professional litigation.”

Team member June Lee, who joined as a freshman, said that Mock Trial gave her an opportunity to collaborate with other students in a timely and efficient manner.

“I love Mock Trial because it is a great way for students to experience how prosecution and defense attorneys work in a court of law,” Lee said.