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Rotunda Report
  • Rotunda Report
    October 22, 2013

    National Mock Trial Event Planning Underway As Championship Approaches

    National Mock Trial Board members. From left:
    Laura Wesley, Los Angeles; Cynthia Cothran, Columbia, S.C.;
    Kevin Lonergan and Marsha Varvil-Weld, State Bar of Wisconsin representatives; Paul Kaufman, Philadelphia;
    Stacy Rieke, Atlanta; John Wheeler, Des Moines, Iowa;
    Emily Reilly, Chicago; Rebecca Britton, Fayetteville, N.C.;
    Dewain Fox, Phoenix; and Don Christensen, Reno, Nev.

    Oct. 22, 2013 – The State Bar of Wisconsin is hitting the ground running as it prepares to host the National High School Mock Trial Championship this spring. The Bar’s special event planning committee set the tone this month with a visit from the National Board, which toured prospective event sites and provided planners with a good idea of just how much work needs to be done.

    “We still have a lot of ground to cover when it comes to securing venues and raising funds,” said Michael Mather, co-chair of the State Bar’s National High School Mock Trial Championship Event Planning Committee and litigation associate with the Milwaukee office of Godfrey & Kahn. “We have to plan four major events during the championship, as well as a number of social events for visiting students and volunteer judges.”

    Mather said that once lodging, daily breakfasts and lunches, security and rental costs, and supplies are taken into account, raising the necessary funds becomes the most important factor in the execution of the event. 

    And now that the National Board has visited the site, the State Bar’s National Mock Trial Planning Team is gearing up to make these last few months count.

    “The National Championship will bring over 1,000 people to the great city of Madison, so it was imperative for the State Bar to show the National Board that we have what it takes to put on a great event,” Mather said.

    National Board members, representing nine states, visited the Supreme Court Oral Hearing Room and the Dane County Courthouse during their trip to Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 11.  They also toured the Concourse Hotel, which will provide lodging and serve as a site for social events, as well as Monona Terrace, another event location. The group also conducted their semi-annual board meeting in conjunction with the site visit.

    Mather found the board’s visit to be a good reminder that the Event Planning Committee still has quite a few things to check off its’ list.

    “We need to prepare for an abundance of activity, especially since students typically arrive three days before the competition,” Mather said. “The first few days of the event are made up of scrimmages and social activities – for both the students and volunteer judges. We will also host a pin exchange, a judge’s reception and a formal banquet after the championship.”

    Katie StenzKatie Stenz is the public affairs coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.

    Students, parents and coaches from across the country will be in Madison from May 9 to 11. Well before that weekend, mock trial organizers at the State Bar have to raise $200,000.

    “Currently, we have raised approximately $82,000, which puts us at less than 50 percent of the way to our goal,” Mather said. “Despite any misconceptions, hosting the National High School Mock Trial Championship is a big deal for both the state of Wisconsin and its legal community.”

    Mather doesn’t believe that the State Bar’s fundraising goal is out of reach. In fact, he said that if each of the State Bar’s 24,000 members donated a mere $5, the group could reach the $200,000 mark.

    “Members of the public should keep in mind that the championship is a culmination of nearly a full-year’s worth of studying, learning, practicing and competing. Even if these students do not choose to pursue a career in law, participation in Mock Trial helps them develop skills in teamwork, critical thinking and public speaking. It also hones their ability to think on their feet,” said Mather.

    He encourages members of the public and the State Bar to support the championship in any fashion, from a monetary donation to the very helpful contribution of time.

    “Without the support of the State Bar of Wisconsin and the public at large, putting together a program of this magnitude is just not possible,” Mather added.

    The State Bar and its charitable arm, the Wisconsin Law Foundation, recently launched an online giving campaign. To donate online, visit and select the Donate Now button. All donations are tax deductible.

    Checks can also be made out to the Wisconsin Law Foundation and mailed to P.O. Box 7158 Madison, WI 53707-7158. The group welcomes multi-year donations, which must be made by Feb. 1, 2014.


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