Amanda Brail – News Reporter –
Southern Connecticut State University’s mock trial team is competing in their final tournament on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Yale University. They are ending a season filled with personal bests and great individual performances, according to Mark Youssef, a member of the mock trial team.
In the past season, Southern’s mock trial team has scrimmaged against University of New Haven, University of Hartford and Quinnipiac University. The team’s captain Corinne Latham has received the most outstanding attorney award; while Youssef received a most outstanding witness award along with a second place overall most outstanding attorney award. Youssef says that he hopes he and the team can learn from their experiences and improve their performance next year.
“We plan to try and advance as much as we can this year compared to previous years,” he said.
Youssef, a senior political science major, said that Southern will be competing against Ivy League schools such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Brown in the upcoming two-day tournament.
“We have a lot of competition that we’re facing,” he said. “That’s why it’s necessary that we take the appropriate steps to prepare ourselves.”
Kevin Doyle, a defense attorney and the coach of the mock trial team, says that preparing for real trial takes “a lot of work, clear thinking, and the ability to write,” along with the ability to publicly speak.
“The best way to learn is just by getting up and doing it,” said Doyle. “It gives you the real world experience of how to speak clearly and present things precisely.”
Alix Lawson, also a member of the team, said that thorough preparation is not only helpful, but also necessary in order to compete in mock trials.
“You have to learn the case from every possible angle so that you’re prepared,” she said.
According to Lawson, the team prepares by going to bi-weekly meetings, learning a fake case, and going over every possible scenario of the case, before going to trial. Youssef says that thorough preparation is necessary, but difficult because of the small team that they have. He said he hopes to get more participation in future seasons.
“People think you have to be pre-law student or a political science major in order to become a part of mock trial, which is why we have such low participation,” he said, “but that’s not true; anybody can become a part of mock trial.”
Lawson and Youssef both said that any student who participates could get internship credits and also practice with public speaking. According to Youssef mock trial will not only help you better yourself as a lawyer, but it will also help develop better critical thinking and listening skills.
Both of the students said why it is also so helpful to students who plan on going to law school:
“It gives you the experience of the environment,” said Lawson, “and the amount of work and preparation that actually goes into going to court.”
“You don’t really learn this in law school,” said Youssef, “this is something you have to learn from experience.”
Doyle, who never had the opportunity to participate in a mock trial team, says that having the experience that his team is getting now would have been very helpful to him in college.
“I hope they get a sense of what it takes to be an attorney,” he said. “I hope they develop some confidence and I hope they get an interest in getting into this line of work.”
“It takes a lot of hard work and effort,” said Doyle, “and I hope they enjoy doing it, because they need that in order to do the job correctly.”