UC Hastings has a nationally recognized Trial Team, which competes against other law schools around the country in various mock trial competitions sponsored by law schools, bar associations, and legal organizations. The competitions involve both civil and criminal topics, and members of the team compete in at least one tournament a semester.
About the Team
A tournament team usually is composed of four students, two of whom represent the plaintiff or prosecution side of the topic and two of whom represent the defense. Students will give either an opening or closing statement, and will be responsible for conducting at least one direct and one cross examination. In addition, students will present and argue motions in limine before the trial begins. When one side is acting as lawyers, the other two students act as witnesses for their colleagues. A competition usually entails two or three preliminary rounds, which average about three hours in length. Most tournaments then have a semi-final and final round to determine the champion.
Fact patterns and trial materials for a given competition are distributed about seven weeks before the competition. Students work with the coaches, alumni, their individual team members and the Trial Team as a whole to prepare for the competition, and will participate in numerous practice trials in the weeks leading up to the competition.
UC Hastings pays for the travel costs (including meals and lodging) for the students participating in the tournaments. Tryouts for the team are held in April, and are open to all UC Hastings students. A student trying out for the team is given a fact pattern from a past tournament and is asked to give a closing statement and conduct a short cross examination of one of the witnesses. The student also participates in a short informational interview with the selection committee.
Trial Team members receive two units of academic credit each semester, and receive intense training in evidence, trial advocacy, and trial ethics. Students can expect to leave the Trial Team with a complete command of the nature and nuances of trial preparation and courtroom advocacy.
How to Participate
Interested in joining the UC Hastings Trial Team? Look to the events calendar for information sessions to learn about try-outs and our team in the Spring of each academic year. Applications will be available at these information sessions and outside the Trial Team door, Room 462 of the 198 Building.