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A Preponderance of (Mock) Evidence



              During winter break of my freshman year, I made drastic changes in my educational plan. Instead of planning on attending medical school after graduating, I decided to go to law school. But this decision required taking a look at my current situation and making changes in order to best head towards where I needed to go. This reevaluation involved looking at the organizations that I was currently in, and could be in, and deciding which ones would help lead me to where I wanted to go. I wanted to find an organization that could help me explore my interest in law, as well as help me build skills that could be useful in all aspects of my life. This is when I discovered the Michigan Mock Trial Team.

                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

friend. MMT is a completely student run organization that thrives on hard work, dedication, and a strong bond between teammates. We have to work as a team in order to keep improving, and that means learning leadership skills, patience, and a willingness to give and take constructive criticism. I came into this team thinking I knew everything about public speaking, and on how to be a good team member, but throughout this year, I realized that there is always something more you can learn. In just a few months I have drastically improved my public speaking, learned how to take criticism as an opportunity to improve, and learned how to become a part of a cohesive member of a group as opposed to a person who is just there for the experience. I have seen my self-confidence grow with each tournament, and that has allowed me to take even more risks that allow me to grow.


Skills Gained

            ·         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.




   Being a member of Michigan Mock Trial has not only confirmed my decision to go into law, but has helped me grow as a person and has allowed me the chance to make friends that I would never had met without this experience. I have learned to recognize my strengths and to identify and improve upon my weaknesses. The opportunity to improve on, and to continue improving, my own speaking skills has become essential in my professional life. Developing my persuasive skill and performance ability has aided me in class presentations and increased my confidence in other activities. Mock trial has given me the ability to contribute to a case theory, to a team and to my own future in ways that I never thought I would before attending that tryout. Being able to watch my team grow from the people who barely knew each other or the case, to a cohesive group working towards a common goal of being the best we possibly can, has been an opportunity that I will cherish and continue learning from for years. MMT has changed me as a person, and despite the stressful challenges that comes with such a competitive team, 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: