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Legal Eagle, er, Bear Returns as Mock Trial Coach

Michelle Stranen ’05, a senior litigation associate at Marcus & Hoffman, P.C., in Media, Pa., recently returned to Ursinus as an adjunct lecturer and coach of the mock trial team.

This is not the first time Stranen, who graduated from Villanova University School of Law in 2008, has coached the mock trial team. Soon after Jim Baer ’66, who was attorney-in-residence and pre-law adviser at the time, created the team in 2011, he invited Stranen to assist.

Stranen—who has experience litigating both civil and criminal matters, and has tried numerous jury and non-jury trialswas pulled away from the team after a few years due to her litigation obligations. She’s eager to get back to coaching once the team resumes activity in the fall of 2021 and begins preparing for the American Mock Trial Association’s national competition.

The students work with a hypothetical case and serve in both attorney and witness roles during the trial competitions,” said Stranen, who is the lecturer for Politics 299 – Trial Advocacy next semester. “I help the students develop trial advocacy and presentation skills that they use during the trial competitions. The skills that are developed provide a great foundation for any student who continues on to law school.

However, the public speaking and analytical skills benefit all students no matter what path they choose after Ursinus,” says the onetime media and communication major who minored in business management and French.

Mock trial is open to all class levels and majors, and there is no limit on the number of participants. Teams of six to 10 students compete, and multiple teams can register from each school. Mock Trial welcomes new members, and an interest in attending law school is not a requirement.

As a coach, I really enjoy watching the individual improvements of the students and want to make sure that we have lots of fun and laughs throughout the year,” says Stranen. I push students out of their comfort zones, but I make sure mock trial is a safe and supportive environment for everyone.