A Unanimous Verdict: Mock Trial Team Raises the Bar

Ursinus students hone their trial advocacy skills through the pre-law program.

Alex (Peters) Adams ’11 knows what makes a good attorney, and she sees a lot of future legal talent at her alma mater. The Ursinus alumna coaches the college’s mock trial team, which has been standing out in competitions across the region.

“I love working with the students,” Adams says. “It blows my mind on a regular basis how quickly they pick up on courtroom demeanor, the law, and creative legal arguments. I know attorneys who can’t do what they do.”

Adams, a child advocate attorney in Philadelphia, guides the team during internal and intercollegiate competitions, and for the first time in Ursinus history, the team competed in the Opening Round Championships March 17-19 in Lancaster, Pa.

The Opening Round Championship Series is the second round of the American Mock Trial Association’s annual national tournament structure. Teams from only 190 schools (out of a field of 650) receive bids to compete in the tournament. 

At a regional competition in February in Baltimore, the Ursinus team placed 10th out of 24 mock trial teams and Kisha Patel ’17—the team captain—won top attorney honors, a distinction she has also earned at Temple University’s Hooter Invitational three years in a row, as well as the Opening Round Championships. 

Patel says that all of the hard work behind the accolades (she compared the workload to that of a 300-level class) is worth it and that her main sense of pride comes not from rewards but from bonding with her team.

“The great thing about mock trial is that it is a team. We like to call it a sport,” Patel says. “You can’t do well individually and let the rest of the team drag. Everyone has to do well because one little point from someone could mean winning or losing the trial. Therefore, during competitions we all come together and really work to ensure the overall success of the team.”

Anna Marks, a politics lecturer, coordinator of legal studies, and the head of the pre-law program, describes mock trial as “an extracurricular, competitive trial advocacy program in which students compete with colleges across the country.

“Students take on the responsibilities of witnesses and attorneys in the mock trial; the roles are designed to challenge those interested in law and debate and enhance students’ speaking, advocacy and legal understanding,” Marks says. “Our team is outstanding and wins awards every year.”

“It has taught me a lot about how to advocate and argue,” says Kimmie Walters ’18, who says her favorite part about mock trial as the sense of preparedness she gets for her future in law. “I have watched multiple lawyers do their thing and through that I’ve learned my own direct and cross examinations. I learned how to read a case and apply the case facts.” —By Leighnah Perkins ’17