Since 2002, Eastern Michigan University students have competed in trial simulations against teams from other universities throughout the United States. Students learn the mock trial game and its application to the real world under the tutelage of faculty, former mockers and EMU graduates who have gone on to law school and successful legal careers. As a result, students are given the opportunity to meet, network and work closely with lawyers and judges from the local community.
To learn more, please contact Dr. Barry Pyle.
Eastern Michigan University is a member of the American Mock Trial Association, which sponsors regional and national-level competitions, as well as provides interesting and complex case materials for academic use. More than 5,300 undergraduate students on 600 teams from roughly 400 colleges and universities engage in intercollegiate mock trial competitions across the country.
Teams of 8-10 compete as attorneys and witnesses against other schools. Presentation includes opening statements, direct examinations, cross-examinations and closing arguments. Each round takes about three hours, and a competition includes four rounds. Case may be criminal or civil, and teams prepare both sides of the case. Attorney and law student judges score both teams and individual students.
The mock trial season begins on August 15th every year with the announcement of the current year’s case. It ends in mid-April with 40 teams competing for the national championship. From October-February, mock trial teams attend invitational weekends (two rounds Saturday and Sunday) to hone their skills for the February-April season of AMTA regionals, opening round championships, and national finals.
A high percentage of members of EMU's top mock trial team have gone on to top-50 law schools, and almost all have or are attending schools in the top 100. These schools include Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Minnesota, as well as Case Western Reserve, Indiana, DePaul and Toledo. Students also attend Wayne State, Michigan State and Detroit Mercy.
Most team members who chose to go to law school have been able to achieve that goal. In recent years, former mockers have found summer associateships with large and small law firms and clerked for trial judges, prosecutors, and public defenders, as well as U.S. Attorneys, Federal District Court judges and State Supreme Court justices. After law school, recent graduates have found positions at some of the largest firms in Michigan and the Midwest. Others work as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and independent practitioners in the areas of immigration law, general business and criminal law.
Benefits of Joining Mock Trial
Students gain knowledge of American law and legal systems, including application of trial court procedure, federal rules of evidence, criminal and civil law, statutory interpretation and application, interpretation and application of precedent to trial court and handling of evidence.
Students get the opportunity to develop law-related skills, including legal research, direct examination, cross examination, opening statements, closing arguments, legal objections, trial strategy and argument, construction, courtroom decorum, legal and logical reasoning, case law analysis, legal argument and arguing both sides of a case.
In addition, students develop strengthen countless other life skills, including critical thinking, public speaking, complex problem solving, adaptive and extemporaneous speaking, team work, judgment and decision-making, performance under pressure and accepting constructive criticism.
“When I entered law school, I expected that most students would have the same type of background. I quickly realized that was not the case. Many, if not most, of my classmates had never read the rules of evidence, let alone argued them before a judge on a specific issue of fact and law. Most had delivered an argument in a courtroom-setting or questioned a witness. Many left law school without having to do so. They learn the skills on-the-fly that “Mockers” began honing years ago. Mock Trial played no small part in my success in law school and now as a practicing lawyer.”
Daniel J. Cicchini, Deputy Prosecutor in the major felony courts, Indianapolis, IN