Prepped for SuccessGAMBIER, Ohio (May 11, 2005) Mock trial. It's about critical thinking, communication skills, and a knowledge of law. But it's mostly about preparation.
"It's the one thing that really separates mock trial teams. There's so much more involved than what you see on Law and Order," says sophomore Eddie Rice, who led Kenyon's team to compete in a national tournament this spring. "Success is all about preparation."
A process that allows students to gain courtroom experience through participation in fictional cases, mock trial often attracts colleges and universities that employ full-time coaches, boast large budgets, and have classes devoted to the subject. But at Kenyon, it has been very much a student-run enterprise. Rice and his teammates have gotten the team off the ground in just two years, devoting up to five hours a week in practice sessions.
"These students are self-starters who are gaining experience that mirrors working in a real-life courtroom," says Marla Kohlman, a Kenyon sociology professor who advises the team and teaches courses in law and society. "I'm very impressed with their success."
Rice, who plans to study law, organized the team last year with only six members. While the team found success at the regional level, Rice was determined to do more. He recruited enough members this year to have two competing teams and asked local attorneys for advice.
After participating in several regional invitational events, one of the teams placed third at the American Mock Trial Association's regional tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. That success qualified them to compete in the Silver National Competition at Eastern Kentucky University.
In addition to learning more about law, Rice has learned a great deal about leadership as the team's president. "This is the first time I've organized something on this scale," says Rice. "We've built an effective and worthwhile program, and my goal is to have one of the best teams in the country."