I coached my first mock trial team as a 2L at Wake Forest School of Law. Over the last 20 years I’ve served as a coach, judge, and juror for mock trial. Every year, no matter how difficult it is for me to set aside the time, I come away from the experience feeling that I got more from the kids than I gave them. It would be impossible to describe every gift this program gives to the lawyers who participate, but here are a few:
1) Wonderment. Remember when the law was new and fresh and exciting? Remember finding out that a rule of evidence turned the course of a trial? When you coach mock trial you see the wonderment and the excitement of discovery of the law in your students.
2) Enthusiasm. Sharing the experience of the “perfect” cross examination or the closing argument that hits just the right note is another benefit of volunteering for mock trial. The students really “get” what makes a statement miss or hit the target. You will get enthusiastic, too.
3) Gratitude. The gratitude you experience is both given and received. The students genuinely appreciate the help you provide to them and the time that you contribute. The parents thank you for truly teaching their children and helping them develop skills such as public speaking, active listening, and analysis. But after each volunteer session, I was deeply grateful to have been part of my students’ lives: sharing jokes, learning about them, and bonding through mutual respect for the law and the court system. Mock Trial makes the law fun. For that I am grateful.
Editor’s Note: Chris Nichols has been involved in all aspects of the NCAJ High School Mock Trial Competition from its inception. He has served as an attorney advisor, judged at regional and state competitions, and recently taught at both the Chapel Hill and Fayetteville summer mock trial camps. In July Chris was elected to serve on the CCCE Board of Directors. Chris practices personal injury and civil litigation in the Triangle area.
For information on how you can impact students’ lives as an attorney advisor, contact Program Coordinator Sue Johnson at SueHeathJohnson@gmail.com