NYSBA Members Influence the Next Generation of Aspiring Lawyers
Everyone has heard of March Madness. But for aspiring attorneys in New York State, nothing compares to the month of May when the New York State Bar Association’s Mock Trial championship brings May Madness to courtrooms across the state.
While the semifinal and final rounds will be virtual again this year, there’s sure to be some courtroom drama as the eight regional winners compete. Teams from Syracuse to Ossining, Manhattan to Albany are preparing for the toughest round yet, which begins May 23.
For 40 years, the association has committed time, talent and resources to teaching teens skills like public speaking, collaboration and self reliance. Student lawyers learn the value of ethics, civility and professionalism while preparing and executing a case both as prosecution and defense. Team members spend months researching and practicing to take on roles as the attorneys, witnesses, legal researchers and writers.
The program involves hundreds of NYSBA members, volunteers and staff who are passionate about teaching these skills to teens who may aspire to become lawyers some day. They are the lifeblood of this effort, teaching and coaching young people in skills they could not learn in any other club.
NYSBA member Evan Janush gushes when speaking of the Mock Trial team at Ossining High School. He says this year’s team of aspiring lawyers are better and more prepared than professionals.
“Their commitment to excellence and diligence sets an example for their peers and the younger students on the team,” he says.
NYSBA member Danielle Fogel has led the championship Fayetteville-Manlius High School for years and says she looks forward to it every year. “It’s rewarding watching the students evolve and be real attorneys in a courtroom. It’s amazing and worthwhile!”
In addition to the attorney mentors, high school teacher volunteers play an integral role in the process. Daniel Bachman, who teaches Advanced Placement Government and Law classes at Massapequa High School, calls Mock Trial “performance social studies.”
“Mock trial is a driving force and the best way to teach the law and civics,” he said. “Putting a student in a courtroom and having them argue on behalf of somebody else’s rights makes them value their own rights even more. “
Celebrating 40 Years of NY State Bar Association’s Mock Trial Competition
In celebration of 40 years, the association is profiling each of the eight regional high school teams in articles and videos on nysba.org. If you are new to mock trial, you can check out our videos from attorney coaches, judges and teachers here .
They explain how rewarding it is to volunteer with exceptional high school students. There are more than 400 teams with 4,000 high schoolers who participate.
The following teams won in their regions:
Region I – still to be determined
Region II – Nottingham High School, Syracuse
Region III – Albany Academy for Girls, Albany
Region IV – Ossining High School, Ossining
Region V – Hunter College High School, Manhattan
Region VI – High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Bronx
Region VII – Massapequa High School, Massapequa Video link
Region VIII – Huntington High School, Huntington Video link
The program is sponsored by the New York State Bar Association’s Law, Youth and Citizenship Committee. The New York Bar Foundation provides some of the funding. Check back often at nysba.org for continuing coverage of the tournament.