Zoe Styler, an attorney for the 2019 Whitefish Bay High School mock trial team, examines a witness during the final round at the State Capitol in Madison on March 10, 2019 – the last final round that was held in person prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament returns in person next month for the first time since 2019, and volunteers are needed as judges. Want to volunteer? Visit
the High School Mock Trial page on WisBar.org
Jan. 18, 2023 – You’ll get more out of it than you put into it, says Daniel P. Murray.
Murray, a court commissioner for Waukesha County and owner of Broadway Law Offices in Waukesha, makes a point to volunteer each year for the State Bar of Wisconsin
High School Mock Trial Competition.
He volunteers as a presiding judge at both the regional and semifinal tournaments. “I’m grateful to have been given that opportunity for many years now,” he said.
Murray has been involved with high school mock trial from its first years in the 1980s.
Why does he keep volunteering?
“You get back at least tenfold what you put into it,” Murray said. Witnessing the students’ commitment, skill, and passion “energizes and affirms why you went into law in the first place.”
An opportunity to spend time with students as a mock trial judge “gives you the opportunity to mentor the next generation of attorneys,” he says.
It also helps you to hone your own skills in litigation, in particular with rules of evidence, procedure, and strategy. “And frankly, it is a lot of fun,” Murray said.
Returning to In-person Competition for 2023
The mock trial program provides high school students with an opportunity to act as attorneys and witnesses in a court case developed by State Bar members.
High School Mock Trial Competition is returning to in-person competition for the first time since 2019. In 2021 and 2022, competitions were held online, and in 2020, the semifinals and finals, which take place in early March, were canceled at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 80 high school mock trial teams will explore the facts and prosecute or defend the accused in this year’s tournament. Teams of six to 12 students compete in early February at the regional level.
The top 20 teams compete in the semifinals in early March, and the top two teams advance to the finals, held in Madison on March 5. The state finalist team will compete in the
National High School Mock Trial championship in May in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 2022, Mock Trial competitions were held via Zoom. In this screen capture, Waukesha attorney and court commissioner Daniel P. Murray (center row, second from right) volunteers as presiding judge during a High School Mock Trial semifinal round on March 5, 2022, between teams from Brookfield Academy and Shorewood High School. Murray has volunteered with the State Bar's mock trial program since the 1980s.
Mock Trial Case Involves a Fatal Accident – or Was It Homicide?
The 2023 case involves a high school senior camping trip gone wrong near the fictitious town of Clearwater, Wisconsin. For over 130 years, the community has been gripped by the legend of the hikers who went missing in Clearwater State Forest. Many have perished in their pursuit of the reward money that awaits the person who solves the mystery of the original hikers' deaths.
With students on a class camping trip, the area called the Southern Slip claims its latest victim, and the people of Clearwater are faced with a new mystery: was the decedent lured into taking all the risk in a desperate effort to have a friend – and to aid that friend's obsession with obtaining the reward money and the glory? Or did the decedent's own intentional choices lead to their tragic end?
Attorneys and Judges are Needed as Volunteers for Competitions in February and March
Since 1983, close to 40,000 high school students from every part of Wisconsin have participated in mock trial. Annually, it takes nearly 450 attorney and judge volunteers to make the tournaments happen.
Volunteers – whether attorneys or judges on the bench – are needed for competitions taking place around the state in February and in Madison in March.
Volunteers needed as judges for:
statewide regional competitions on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. Volunteers are needed for competitions in: Green Bay, Appleton, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Juneau, Waukesha, Wausau, Eau Claire, and Kenosha; and
semifinal competitions in Madison on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, 2023.
Generally, volunteers choose to be judges for either the morning or afternoon competitions – or for the full day.
To learn more and to volunteer, visit
wisbar.org/mock_trial/Pages/Volunteers.aspx, or contact Katie Wilcox, Mock Trial program manager, at (608) 250-6191 or
The mock trial program is funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Law Foundation, the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin. Donations to the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Mock Trial Fund can be made online at
The Wisconsin High School Mock Trial program is funded by a generous grant from the
Wisconsin Law Foundation, the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin, supporting law-related education and public service programs statewide.