May 6, 2014 – Wisconsin lawyers have more in common than their work with clients and ability to compose legal briefs, many also possess a desire to give back and help grow and cultivate the legal profession.
Over the past few months, more than 200 State Bar of Wisconsin members have come together in an effort to promote and support a single cause, the 2014 National High School Mock Trial Championship. The tournament starts this Thursday and ends Saturday.
Members have donated their money, to the tune of nearly $150,000, and their time, as volunteer judges and general championship volunteers during the two-day event.
“When the time came for the members of the State Bar to step up to the plate, they came through, not only financially, but also with their time and talent,” said National Mock Trial Executive Committee Chair Kevin Lonergan. “My colleagues have rallied around this event and have shown the rest of the membership that mock trial is by far the State Bar's number one public outreach program.”
Government Relations Coordinator Cale Battles packs supplies for this week’s arrival of National Mock Trial participants representing 43 states, plus Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and South Korea.
The “Zombiepocalypse” refers to a fun, fictional component of the 2014 national case. Much of the case revolves around the fact that the owner of an energy drink company decided to promote his new beverage at a special 5K-type run that involves people acting as zombies and chasing runners along the route.
Lonergan’s committee has been working on the event for almost two years, which is actually less planning time than most host states have had in the past.
“We set the bar very high and, thanks to our members, met our goal well in advance of the championship,” Lonergan said.
He is referring to the many donations that have come in over the past few months, giving the State Bar event planning team just enough time to nail down venues, catering, and other necessary materials.
Mock trial sponsorships range from a Friend of the Court sponsor, which includes donations up to $499, and Gold Gavel, which encompasses donations of $25,000, or more. View the full list of 2014 National High School Mock Trial Championship donors here.
The State Bar received two donations at the Gold Gavel level. The Wisconsin Law Foundation donated $25,000 and the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates pledged $35,000.
“The large donations were in addition to more than 100 single contributions from attorneys, citizens and law firms,” Lonergan said.
With nearly 350 volunteer judges and other volunteer slots filled, the committee has another reason to celebrate. It takes a village to provide the necessary support to welcome approximately 500 participant and countless observers coming from 43 states, plus Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and South Korea.
“The State Bar staff has worked tirelessly to ensure that those kids have an experience that they will never forget,” Lonergan said. “I have never been so proud to be a part of this of this great organization; I want to thank everyone who has played a role in hosting this great event.”
Katie Stenz is the public affairs coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at org kstenz wisbar wisbar kstenz org, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.
Lonergan has been part of mock trial for over 14 years, serving in various capacities, but most notably as an attorney-coach for the Xavier High School mock trial team in Appleton. This will be Lonergan's fifth time attending the national competition, third as the coach for Xavier, and second as the National Committee Chair.