Michigan Mock Trial (MMT) is a nationally competitive team that simulates a real trial in a court of law. Students come together to form both defense and prosecution teams that include three attorneys and three witnesses. Using one case per year, the teams form a case theory that they believe would be the best argument for their side. They call witnesses, perform opening and closing speeches, and cross the opposing side’s witnesses.
In order to become a member of MMT, I had to attend a fifteen minute try-out period where I was asked to give a defense closing and perform a witness monologue. This was one of the most stressful and exciting moments of my life, especially when I realized that I was competing with 200 other students for ten openings. Despite the small chance of making the team, I decided to give it my best and, even if I didn’t make it, take it as a learning opportunity. The congratulations e-mail stating that I had made the team was probably one of the most thrilling e-mails I have received.
Mock trial at its simplest is a team of students pretending to be attorneys that are arguing a simulated case theory. When looked at closer, however, Mock Trial develops self-esteem, confidence, public speaking, time management, and professional behavior. Each member of the team has to become a leader, and a dedicated teammate. They develop into professionals and learn to refine their presentation and persuasion techniques. Mock Trial helps students cultivate behaviors and skills that will be essential to their success in future years.
Since becoming a member of MMT, I have been able to see myself grow as a person, a professional, and a
· Learning how to give and take constructive criticism – While this is something everyone should be able to do, it is a learned skill. Being able to learn from constructive criticism instead of taking it personally is difficult and takes time, but is essential when working with a team.
· Public Speaking – Because I had a strong background in public speaking I thought this was a skill I had developed well, but my time with MMT helped me improve it even more. My captains showed me different techniques and exercises that would help me slow down, as well as improved my ability to be concise as well as complete.
· Becoming Detail-Oriented – Many of the strongest points in our case were developed from the smallest details. This has taught me to be as detail oriented as possible, because sometimes the most important things can seem like the most inconsequential details.
· Viewing an argument from both sides – Mock Trial teams are required to compete on both the sides of prosecution and defense. This means teams have to develop case theories that both defend and prosecute the person on trial despite their personal preference. This requirement has taught me to look into all possible sides of an argument before making a decision.
· Time and Stress management – Being a member of MMT requires a great deal of time management. We attend numerous weekend tournaments during the year that limit our free time to complete homework, attend events, or visit home. In order to complete my work successfully, I learned to finish assignments early and to get help when necessary. I also learned that it was essential to take time to myself to relax and enjoy activities outside of MMT and classes.
· Critical and Analytical Thinking - While portions of a trial are scripted and rehearsed, it is nearly impossible to accurately predict what an opposing team will present during a competition. This unknown requires members of the team to be able to think quickly and develop responses and answers that accurately defend their case while successfully rebutting their opponents’ arguments. Members of the team also have to know the complete facts and details of the case in order to make precise extemporaneous arguments.
Impactam, it has only changed me for the better.
For more information on the University of Michigan's Mock Trial team, please follow the link below: