Mock Trial uses classroom experience

By Parker Otto

DeKALB — Mock Trial takes students from the classroom to competitions, allowing them to compete in real-world law scenarios.

Members of Mock Trial begin their journey in POLS 419. This course determines who will compete in the mock trial club competitions, Andrea Alcantar, senior political science and psychology major and Mock Trial president, said.

The class can be retaken for up to six credit hours, and members can be on the team for up to four years, according to the NIU course catalog.

The club currently has 17 members, Alcantar said.

Members participate in competitions as a team of prosecutors and defense attorneys on faux court cases. These competitions are intercollegiate and are conducted mainly with other Midwestern colleges such as Illinois State University, Alcantar said.

During competitions, students decide which cases to take with topics including murder, and manslaughter, the killing of someone without an intent to kill. Students argue for both prosecution and defense once they have their topics — as though they are licensed lawyers.

“Our organization is fairly young at about 10 years,” Alcantar said. “But it’s a fun place to be and a good group for students.”

The number of competitions the club participates in varies, but Mock Trial generally competes in seven to 10 competitions per academic year, Alcantar said.

Members of the club participated in six competitions in Fall 2019, Wilfredo Najarro, senior political science major and Mock Trial vice president said.

“These competitions give you experience in competitive public speaking and logical reasoning,” Najarro said.

Najarro spends an average of 15 hours per week participating in Mock Trial, making it a large commitment, he said.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s not bad,” Najarro said.“Being in Mock Trial gives you a lot of good qualities like public speaking and logical reasoning.”

Alcantar said she has enjoyed her time with Mock Trial and plans to use the experience she has gained in the organization when she goes to law school.

Mock Trial is one of five student organizations in the Department of Political Science. Other organizations include Model Illinois Government, Model United Nations, the Political Science Student Advisory Committee and the Pre-Law Honors Society.

“I recommend this club to those who want to be lawyers, but you don’t have to be a law student to do well in this club,” Alcantar said. “This club can teach you legal writing, effective communication, critical thinking and how to be a leader.”