The Wisconsin High School Mock Trial program needs your help. As it has in so many other ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the program. Not in terms of student participation; that remains strong, with over 1,200 students across Wisconsin expected to compete in the 2022-23 school year. The next generation remains deeply committed, with interest in the program stronger than ever.
The pandemic has, however, affected our ability to recruit volunteers to assist with the program. Specifically, we need more State Bar of Wisconsin members, both judges and attorneys, to volunteer as regional coordinators and judges. We need you.
Now more than ever, the mock trial program is instilling a necessary knowledge and appreciation for the rule of law and the judicial system and how they form the foundation of our democracy.
About one year ago, I was talking with a member who said that they always viewed mock trial as simply a way for the profession to grow future lawyers. Yes, the program does inspire some participants to seek a career in the law. But the real value and purpose are far greater: nothing less than nurturing the next generation of civic leaders. Students gain a life-changing set of skills that will serve them, their future chosen professions, and our broader society for years to come. They learn how to be members of and depend on a team, develop confidence in public speaking, become critical thinkers, and learn important problem-solving skills.
This is where you come in. We need your volunteer help. Specifically, we need more regional coordinators, as well as judges.
Regional coordinators recruit volunteer judges in 11 regions across the state. They communicate with schools and teams assigned to a region and run the regional tournament the day of competition. Without coordinators, we can’t put on the program. We also need attorneys and judges to serve as presiding and scoring judges, for both regional and state tournaments.
It takes hundreds of members to support mock trial. But here is the good news. Volunteering is only for a few hours over a couple of days in February (in locations across Wisconsin) and in March (in Madison). It’s not a heavy time commitment, but it is a vital service and a personally satisfying experience.
If you are not in a position to volunteer this year, please consider providing financial support. The mock trial program is funded by the Wisconsin Law Foundation. Your financial support will help us grow and support more teams across the state, particularly in rural and large-urban-area communities.
Since 1983, nearly 40,000 high school students from every part of Wisconsin have participated in mock trial. Annually, it takes nearly 450 attorney and judge volunteers. Can we count on you this year?
Students gain a life-changing set of skills that will serve them, their future chosen professions, and our broader society for years to come.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 wisbar.org/wlfdonate.
» Cite this article: 95 Wis. Law. 9 (Sept. 2022).