I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I think it’s super beneficial to remind all students the importance of trying out for moot court and other trial advocacy teams. I’ve spoken to so many rising 1Ls that don’t even attempt to try out and that is such a disservice to yourself.
I know not all of us will be trial lawyers (myself included), but these opportunities provided by your school aren’t made to create trial lawyers–they are so much more than that!
Here’s what you lose out on when you don’t participate in these activities:
one. Connections. You meet countless practicing attorneys and judges through these programs. You can gain mentors by working with them on a frequent basis, and they not only can point you to job opportunities, but they can also be your strongest recommenders for jobs because they can discuss your litigation strengths to other attorneys. Essentially, this is one of the best forms of networking.
two. Experience. Trial advocacy isn’t 100% like real life practice, but it does get you familiar with working a courtroom; it trains you to think on your feet; it gives you a better understanding of the rules of evidence; and how to handle problematic clients/witnesses. It’s great to have these skills as a new attorney.
three. Camaraderie. You may already have a group of friends that have your back and support you, but there’s no reason why you can’t expand that group. It’s especially important to try to expand it into circles you normally don’t interact with (and let’s keep it real, many of the participants in this trial ad programs, very often are still mostly part of the status quo). You will also gain a bond with your teammates that will help you in your career because those students will become your colleagues in just a few short years. And while you will go off into different practice areas, the reality is that the legal community is small–you want to have a point person as often as you can.
Many students hesitate to participate–or even try out–for these programs out of fear; or because they think they know what lies ahead in their career (i.e. I’d never be a trial attorney); or they don’t feel encouraged to try-out because they have never envisioned themselves as a litigator. But the beauty of a law degree, is that all the basic skills we learn translate into all areas of law. Any skill you learn now will benefit you immensely in your practice, so don’t cut yourself short because you think you know where your career is headed. And the beauty of a changing legal field is that, at this moment, you may not see yourself as a trial lawyer because you don’t look like the others and you never envisioned yourself having such power–but realize that you are capable of owning a courtroom; persuading juries; and winning cases with your litigation skills–you just need the chance to learn how! Don’t deny yourself the chance just because you think you don’t have what it takes.
And if you’re holding yourself back because of fear–remember that you made the decision to attend law school by facing fear and stats that said you couldn’t, so surely, you can withstand the five minutes it takes to try-out for a team.
This semester be fearless and try out for a trial team!