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Club Spotlight: UAlbany Mock Trial

By Shaylee Staves | April 15, 2024

UAlbany Mock Trial competitive team at Regionals, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Photo Credit: UAlbany Mock Trial / @mocktrial.albany 

Your Honor, I object!

That might not be something most people hear everyday, but for members of UAlbany Mock Trial, it’s second nature. For those unfamiliar with Mock Trial, President Sarah Jamil described it as “a simulation of real-life legal trials, civil and criminal.” 

Jamil elaborated by stating, “All throughout the year we just work towards these trials. We get a fake case, a fake case problem, and charges, and basically we have a prosecution team and a defense team, and we work towards creating our arguments, creating our theories, and the entirety of the semester’s just working towards competitions and competing with schools in the region, and putting our arguments to work.”

According to the American Mock Trial Association Rulebook, teams consist of 6 to 10 members. Members can choose to take on the role of judge, prosecuting lawyer, defense lawyer, or witness. UAlbany Mock Trial division (UAMT) currently has two competitive teams with 10 members each, and one club team with varying membership.

UAMT has been active for quite awhile, with teams competing at many tournaments across the country. According to their official page on the UAlbany website, members develop “experiential trial skills that include persuasive writing, critical thinking, public speaking, and performance.”

This is supported by Jamil, who said, “The major components of Mock Trial are really just public speaking and performance. Whether you are acting as an attorney or whether you’re acting as a witness, you just have to put on a show . . . We really just set people up for really great basic skills that can be applied anywhere, regardless whether or not they’re going into a legal career.” 

It’s true that Mock Trial isn’t just for future lawyers and judges. “That’s something we get posed a lot,” Jamil said, “whether or not Mock Trial is just for political science or law people, but it definitely isn’t. You learn a lot of stuff which you can apply everywhere. And the skills that you learn – it’s very versatile for sure.” 

“We have a lot of people who are interested in law, we also have some people who are interested in acting. We have a few theater majors or minors in our club,” said Sophie Coker, Public Relations Chair. “One of our seniors this year is an East Asian Studies major and she’s the backbone of our org.”

“She’s our head coach – no plans of law school, nothing related to politics but she loves it and she’s amazing at it,” added Jamil.

Jamil, Coker, and Abby Horn, Tournament Director Chair, are all active members of UAMT’s competitive team, as well as working on the administrative side of the organization. This year, the three were on the same competitive team. 

“Everyone on the competition team goes through a round or two of tryouts to get onto the competitive team, despite being on E-Board,” explained Coker. “It’s usually quite the week or so when we have the tryouts.” 

When asked what their favorite parts of Mock Trial, this is what they had to say:

“Personally for me,” Jamil began, “this was the first year that I was on defense, usually I’m a prosecution girl, I think my favorite part of that was just trying to think of some elaborate theory or some loopholes to break the prosecution case. [The competition] is like a road trip getting there. It’s a bonding opportunity.”

“I think for me, getting to see how each individual team member grows from Invitationals to Regionals and getting to watch the team bond with each other, especially as we go on these road trips – that’s my favorite,” said Horn.

“I have a little bit of a different take being a witness instead of an attorney. In college Mock Trial, it’s what you’re good at. What I have learned to be good at is playing someone who isn’t me. I love putting on a new persona, learning an entirely different [character]. I have played main defendants for two years now, and I’ve really enjoyed learning how to adapt to changes as I’m on the stand. It’s really helpful with thinking on your feet” Coker said.

Jamil adds another mention-worthy aspect of Mock Trial, stating, “Seeing people grow from when they first tried out to after going through a whole season – it’s amazing. I know I definitely broke out of my shell. I used to be so shy and hated public speaking, but now? It’s so, so amazing to see how much more people are confident in themselves after this.”

The big event for Mock Trial each academic year is Regionals, where the competitive teams travel to compete with other teams. This year, UAlbany’s Mock Trial traveled to compete at Brown University in Rhode Island, an event that took place Feb. 16-18, according to the official American Mock Trial Association website.

“Mock Trial is – the level that we compete at, at least – is national through many colleges across the country. We all prepare the same case, so we are doing the same exact things that people in colleges in California are doing,” Coker explained.

“We host our own tournament at our school . . . This year none of our teams competed at, but we hosted a ton of other teams,” Horn said. “We look forward to hosting it every year.”

Jamil and Coker elaborate, saying that it was the fifth annual tournament and the largest to date, with 21 teams and 13 schools.

In the fall, competitive teams compete in various tournaments known as invitationals. This serves as a preparation competition for regionals in the spring, where teams can test their skills and court strategies against other teams, all while adapting with case changes provided by the American Mock Trial Association.

When asked what advice they would give to students looking to join UAMT, here’s what they had to say:

“I would say that they should jump into club team,” Jamil said. “And I would say no need to be nervous. Speaking for myself, I was incredibly nervous when I first started out, but now it’s just all fun.” 

For someone just starting out, the club team of UAMT allows students to experiment and go at their own pace. If a student has a busy schedule or is unsure if Mock Trial is what they want to do, the club team provides a low commitment environment to test it out. 

“All they have to do is show up to one of our Monday meetings, text the Instagram [account], email us – anywhere they want to contact us. It’s really as simple as that,” Coker said.

As the end of the spring semester approaches, UAMT is focusing more on the club team and arranging scrimmages with other schools. As Coker explained, “Now that we’ve wrapped up Regionals, we’re looking forward to hosting some club scrimmages with other local teams and schools. If anyone is nervous about joining, the club team is active right now.” 

This year, Jamil explained how she wanted to “focus on intermember relations and make sure it’s a really fun environment where people aren’t afraid to come to us if they’re overworked.”

Any UAlbany student interested in joining or learning more about Mock Trial can visit their MyInvolvement, Instagram, or email them at

UAMT’s competitive teams attending Regionals in Providence, Rhode Island.

Photo Credit: UAlbany Mock Trial


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