When I worked for the Wisconsin Legislature more years ago than I wish to count, we knew it was springtime not by the lack of snow or the profusion of blooming tulips filling the gardens of the Capitol grounds. Rather, we knew it by the thundering footfalls and incessant chatter of middle and high school students on their annual class visit to their state capitol.
This coming spring, I imagine it will be no different, except that to that chatter will be added the thoughtful speech of some of the most accomplished high school students in the country as they spar for the right to be called champions of the National High School Mock Trial Tournament.
George C. Brown is the executive director for the State Bar of Wisconsin.
"While some High School Mock Trial contestants are most certainly tomorrow’s lawyers, all of them will become tomorrow’s leaders."
Wisconsin is the host of the 2014 National High School Mock Trial Tournament and the State Bar of Wisconsin is the sponsor. From May 6-10, we expect more than 1,000 students and teacher and attorney coaches, plus many more parents, friends, and other supporters, from 47 states and several territories to converge on Madison for the competition. While some of these contestants are most certainly tomorrow’s lawyers, all of them will become tomorrow’s leaders.
Innumerable practice rounds will be held before the main competition on May 9, with the finals being held in the Wisconsin Supreme Court hearing room on May 10. Except for one courtroom, the entire Dane County Courthouse will be devoted to the event. Additional competitions will be held in the federal courthouse on Henry Street and in some Capitol hearing rooms, and, depending on the number of competitions, other rooms may be needed.
This is the second time the State Bar and Wisconsin have had the honor of hosting the tournament. The National High School Mock Trial Tournament has grown steadily over the years. When Wisconsin first hosted in 1992, 32 states and the District of Columbia and Guam participated in the nationals. Today, nearly every state has a statewide competition that sends its champion to the tournament.
Although the State Bar is the sponsor, you, its members, are critical to the success of the tournament. Hundreds of volunteers are needed for a variety of roles, from competition judges to location guides needed for each day of the tournament. In addition, substantial sponsorship dollars must be raised to fund the various social and other functions expected of a successful tournament. Already ABOTA and several State Bar sections have donated to the sponsorship fund, but more is needed.
An organizing committee chaired by attorney Kevin Lonergan of Appleton is leading the effort, with subcommittees searching for volunteers and for fundraising well underway. To help extend Wisconsin’s warm hospitality to high school students who will be tomorrow’s leaders, please consider volunteering your time and making a tax deductible contribution to the success of the tournament.
To volunteer your time or contribute to the sponsorship fund, contact State Bar public education coordinator Marsha Varvil-Weld at (608) 250-6191, (800) 728-7788, PubEdCoordinator@wisbar.org, or visit www.wisbar.org/mocktrial.