Dec. 10, 2013 – Want to refine your courtroom skills and delivery? Looking at procedure and performance from a different perspective, like that of a judge, can be very helpful, and the State Bar of Wisconsin has a perfect opportunity to do just that. You can take the bench while volunteering as a judge at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Madison from May 8 to 10.
“Volunteering is a great way for attorneys and judges to network with other members of the profession who hail from Wisconsin and, this year, more than 40 other states,” said Judge Mitchell Metropulos, co-chair of the National Mock Trial Executive Committee’s volunteer judge recruitment efforts. “Judging at the competition will also help attorneys brush up on the rules of evidence and observe effective communication styles.”
Volunteers must have judged two rounds of mock trial within the past five years in order to qualify to judge at the national championship. The upcoming regional tournaments, taking place in 11 locations around the state in February, are a great way for attorneys and judges to fulfill the State Bar’s two-round judging requirement. Plus, volunteers have a unique opportunity to get their feet wet and learn what it takes to judge a round of mock trial.
“This is a great chance for our attorneys to support a program that teaches young people very valuable skills in public speaking and analytical thinking,” said Judge Brian Blanchard, co-chair with Metropulos and Judge Michael Bloom. “It also fosters a better understanding of the legal system among students.”
Every mock trial round involves three judges: one presiding judge and two scoring judges, with each judge taking part in the scoring process. All judges, even those who have previously judged, will go through a training program on the day of the competition, prior to the first round of judging.
“In my time as a judge, I found students to be very well prepared and skilled,” Metropulos said. “They bring a level of competition that is extremely high and very interesting to watch.”
Blanchard said that even the most experienced attorneys have something to gain from observing a round of mock trial.
“Watching and providing feedback to fine, young public speakers gives attorneys a chance to go back to basics when considering the most effective ways to present a case.”
With potentially 46 teams of competitors, the volunteer recruitment team will need to fill a total of 368 judging slots by early April.
Blanchard, Metropulos and Bloom have recruited 75 volunteer judges so far, but the co-chairs noted that more judges are needed to make the competition a success.
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.
More than 1,000 students, parents, teachers and coaches are expected to visit Madison for the national championship, which is just five months away. The multi-day program will feature several events ranging from scrimmages to social activities – for both the students and volunteer judges.
“I know many attorneys and judges will take advantage of this very unique opportunity to represent the state of Wisconsin and the legal profession to teams of students – and their coaches – from across the country,” Blanchard said.
For more information or to get involved with the National Championship, contact the program coordinator at PubEdCoordinator@wisbar.org or (800) 444-9404, ext. 6140.
Regional Tournaments: (At locations around the State) Feb. 8, 2014
Tie-breaker Rounds: (If necessary) Feb. 15, 2014
National Mock Trial Championship: May 8-10, 2014