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AAJ Mock Trial Team FAQ

This page contains more information about Drake Law School's AAJ Mock Trial Team.

What is AAJ Mock Trial?

The AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition (formerly the ATLA Student Trial Advocacy Competition) is a national trial advocacy competition for law school students endowed by Baldwin & Baldwin, LLP.

Mock trial is a trial built around a fictitious fact scenario comprised of pleadings, affidavits, exhibits, and other materials. Students perform opening and closing statements, direct and cross examinations, and portray witnesses. In each round, students present one side of a civil case. Students from a different institution present the opposing side.

Judges and attorneys score student attorneys based on their ability to advocate. The team with the higher point tally is declared the winner of the round.

Our program is different from the TYLA mock trial competition, a competition in which Drake also fields teams. In the TYLA competition, witnesses are provided by the school hosting the tournament; in our competition, witnesses are students from the participating schools.

Although our program closely associates with the Moot Court Board for travel and logistical support, you do not need to be a member of the board to participate in our program.

What are the benefits?

In addition to mastering the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, you will learn to convincingly advocate for clients, effectively enter exhibits, manufacture compelling arguments, and adapt to trial strategies advanced by your opponent. Because you will be on your feet arguing objections, interrogating witnesses, and arguing to a jury, you will notice a marked improvement in your comfort and skill in public speaking.

In addition to the more practical benefits, you will gain valuable trial experience while still in law school, with the added luxury of being able to refine your skills while trying different strategies and techniques on the same fact pattern.

Many students find the interaction with their fellow students in an activity where they seek a common goal to be an immensely positive one. Employers (particularly trial attorneys) look very favorably upon participation in mock trial. You may also be eligible to receive up to two credits per year toward your degree.

There are also opportunities for travel. Our regional tournament is typically in Omaha, Chicago, or Kansas City, and our national tournament is usually in Las Vegas, New Orleans, or West Palm Beach Florida. We are also exploring the possibility of scrimmaging schools in adjacent states.

How much time is involved?

After the problem is released in December, we begin work immediately, although the heavy lifting does not begin until after finals. We will, however, expect an investment of time over winter break, and ask that you have drafts of your various parts to us in early January, so when we start practices after break, we will already have the basics of the case down.

We typically practice around eight hours a week from immediately after the conclusion of winter break until the end of February, and additional time is necessary between practices to incorporate revisions discussed in practice. For students inexperienced in evidentiary and procedural matters, we will be conducting a seminar to bring newcomers up to speed, so we can hit the ground running once the problem is released.

Most employers are flexible about allowing students to practice while holding part-time jobs at local law firms. However, we typically have practice at least one evening during the week, so you should plan ahead when looking forward to your spring class schedule.

Am I qualified?

If you will be a 2L or 3L this fall enrolled at the Drake Law School and are not graduating in December, you are qualified for this activity. No prior experience in mock trial is necessary. We have a preference for students who have taken Evidence and Trial Advocacy, but these are not prerequisites to joining a team. In addition, students selected for a team will have the option of being pre-enrolled in both Evidence and Trial Advocacy before the regular registration process starts.

Many students are concerned about their ability to succeed in our activity because they did not participate on a team as an undergraduate student, they have limited trial advocacy experience, or they are not interested in being a trial lawyer after completing law school. None of these are requirements for joining our teams.

How good is Drake?

Drake has won the regional title many times. Overall, Drake has won the regional title eight times and twice reached the final round of the national tournament.

Chicago Regional - 5th place

Omaha Regional Champion
National finals – 11th place
2016 STAC Regional Winners

Omaha Regional Champion and Runner-Up
National finals – 11th place
2015 STAC Regional Winners

Omaha Regional Champion and Semifinalist
National finals – 5th place
2014 STAC Regional Winners

St. Louis Regional Participant

Boston Regional Champion and Runner-Up
National finals – 7th place (tie)
2012 STAC Regional Winners

Kansas City Regional – 4th place tie

Detroit Regional Semifinalist

Chicago Regional Participant

Denver Regional Champion
Chicago Regional Participant
2008 STAC Regional Winners

Kansas City Regional Participant

Kansas City Regional Participant

Chicago Regional Participant

Chicago Regional Champion
National Finals – Runner-up

Chicago Regional Participant

Kansas City Regional Champion

Boston Regional Champion
National Finals – Runner-up

Learn more about the AAJ Mock Trial past teams.

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