WisBar News: State Bar, Madison to Host 2014 National Mock Trial Championship:

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    State Bar, Madison to Host 2014 National Mock Trial Championship

    Andrea Gage

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    Xavier High School Mock Trial team with Wisconsin Supreme Court justices. Xavier took first place in the 2012 state competition and went on to the National Championship held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    Aug. 3, 2012 – A huge honor for Wisconsin and its legal community will come with a huge undertaking by State Bar of Wisconsin members. Madison was recently chosen as the host city for the 2014 National Mock Trial Championship, with State Bar sponsorship.

    The event is expected to attract approximately 1,100 participants and observers from 42 states, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and South Korea. The competition will run from May 9 to May 11, 2014.

    With many students, coaches and observers descending on downtown for an intensive three-day competition, the State Bar is calling on lawyers and community members to help create the best learning experience possible for students.

    Marsha Varvil-Weld, the Public Education and Mock Trial Coordinator for the State Bar, is looking for more than 500 people to volunteer as mock trial judges, organizers and event staffers. “This is a tremendous opportunity to highlight the legal profession, the court system and the mock trial program in Wisconsin,” Varvil-Weld said.

    Attorney Kevin Lonergan, chair of the State Bar’s Public Education Committee, has served as a coach for 12 years and has traveled to three national championships. Several states competed to host the 2014 championship, and Lonergan is glad that Wisconsin won the honor.

    “It is a great program, and a great opportunity for practicing lawyers to reach out to the community. Hosting the national competition in Wisconsin will bring greater recognition to this outstanding program,” said Lonergan.

    According to Lonergan, the experience is rewarding for parents, and for lawyers who want to see other young people explore the profession.

    “I had three children participate in the program. Two of my children and many other students in our program have gone on to law school. Mock trial is a team activity, but students must perform individually. They learn public speaking and they learn to think on their feet. Even those students who do not go on to law school benefit from those experiences,” said Lonergan.

    The National Mock Trial Championship is the culmination of months of learning, practice and competition on the state level by young people with an interest in the court system. Every high school in Wisconsin is invited to participate in the Wisconsin Mock Trial Program. Teams, which are made up of three student attorneys, three student witnesses, one teacher coach and one attorney coach, compete to determine who will go on to the National Championship.

    The Dane County Courthouse, Madison’s historic Capitol, and their proximity to shops, restaurants and the U.W.-Madison were all strong positives for National Mock Trial organizers in selecting Wisconsin.

    The crush of students and parents, who will be spending several days at area hotels and frequenting shops and restaurants during breaks, will be a boon to the local economy.

    The Mock Trial Subcommittee, chaired by State Bar members Ellen Henak and Marta Meyer, will be calling on fellow members to give back to the community and participants by donating their time and legal expertise to judge the competition rounds.

    Donations will also be needed for the welcome banquet, plus snacks and refreshments to keep the student-participants going strong during the competition.

    “Over the years, I’ve heard from students that this was the most memorable experience of high school, the best thing they ever did. We want to ensure that their three days in Madison leaves a lasting imprint,” said Varvil-Weld.

    Learn more information about the Wisconsin Mock Trial Competition and the National Mock Trial Championship. To learn about volunteer opportunities, please email Marsha Varvil-Weld at org LRECoordinator wisbar wisbar LRECoordinator org or call (608) 250-6191.  

    Andrea Gage is the public relations coordinator for the State Bar of Wisconsin.