Paving Career Paths for Teens: Mock Trial and Moot Court

by Sadye Arlin

Vision Street Research is committed to supporting the workforce development. Through our internship program, trainings and collaborations we seek to expose young people, to various career paths as well as support their interests in areas they identify on their own or through school. We are excited to share a blog piece written by one of our interns about Paving Career Paths For Teens via Mock Trial and Moot Court.

When most people imagine the extracurricular activities of a high school student they imagine sports or drama club; in recent years, schools have expanded to include career oriented activities, many of which involve nationwide or statewide competitions and opportunities for internships. Personally, I devote my afterschool time to Mock Trial, a simulation of the American court system expressed through sample cases composed by the New York State Bar Association. 

I have participated in Mock Trial since I was a freshman in highschool, which means I have been pretending to be a lawyer for four years. I am the president of the Baldwin High School Mock Trial team, and I am proud to report that every year we make it past the preliminary round in the New York State Mock Trial Tournament; this tournament is what we work towards all year, learning etiquette, objections, public speaking skills, how to properly formulate questions in addition to social lessons surrounding teamwork and commitment. These tournaments can center around any type of law- both criminal and civil. We write direct and cross examinations, coach witnesses (who are other students in the club), write opening and closing statements and argue with each other over objections and subsequent rebuttals. All of our practice has developed skills that help me with public speaking, writing, forming succinct arguments and leadership.  

Mock Trial has led to other opportunities, such working with the Nassau County DA for Peer Diversion Court or competing in the exclusive, invite-only NYS Moot Court Tournament. The primary difference between Mock Trial and Moot Court is that Moot Court is exclusively constitutional law, and there are no witnesses, examinations, objections, opening or closing statements; there are only long speeches in which the speaker is interrupted by the judge with questions doubting the infrastructure of the speaker’s constitutional argument. Although I adore Mock Trial and the theatrical nature of objections and rebuttals, I became enamored with constitutional law because of Moot Court. Normally, when teenagers decide they want to be an attorney, it’s because of courtroom dramas, or movies like Legally Blonde, but I found my future through practice. I love the Constitution, as flawed a document it may be, and I have read it cover to cover (which is not that impressive if you know how long it is). I found a niche area of a career path that I want to pursue, but if I want to go another direction, I can. A law degree is incredibly versatile, and can be applied to any legal area that I wish, but through my school and through New York State, I believe I found my passion. 

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