Mock trial returns to Concordia

After a six-year hiatus, the Concordia mock trial team held their first meeting on Monday, Jan. 22. The team has been rebuilt with support from the political science department; the division chair of the humanities, Dr. Vincent Arnold; and the Assistant District Attorney for Clay County, Lori Conroy.

Concordia College has a long history of involvement in mock trial, dating back to the 1980s, and has traveled to the national tournament no less than six times, according to the Concordia Archives. While the new team will not be traveling for any competitions this year, they did want to begin prepping as soon as possible.

“We needed to time to rebuild the team,” said Dr. Rebecca Moore, professor of political science.

Moore, along with her colleagues in the political science department, wanted the team rebuilt for a few reasons, not the least being to give pre-law students an idea of what being an attorney feels like. Concordia currently does not offer a pre-law concentration or any curriculum specifically for pre-law students.

By adding the extracurricular of mock trial, the political science department is hoping to give those who want to go pre-law a more robust learning opportunity. This renewed capacity will allow a more hands-on approach to teaching certain aspects of the law and to being an active member in the courtroom.

“We hope that mock trial works with Concordia’s integrative learning and could possibly be one means of acquiring the PEAK requirement in the the future,” Moore said.

Some coaching candidates might have shied away from the task of rebuilding a team from the ground up, but Conroy is excited by the challenge. Having also helped the University of North Dakota mock trial team when they were low in participation, Conroy seems uniquely positioned to work with the revamped Concordia mock trial team.

Conroy also believes strongly that this sort of extracurricular activity provides results for any type of student.

“Mock trial allows for anyone to better develop … their critical thinking and communication skills in a fun setting,” she said.

To the unfamiliar, mock trial might seem like any other forensic team. However, this type of competition brings students into a closed setting where all they have is their previous knowledge and time to work over a problem, thinking of both how to make their side’s argument as well as break their opponents.

“You learn how to look at both sides of things and how to properly advocate your side,” Conroy said.

Sophomore Audrey Ulliman is excited about the chance to work with such an accomplished lawyer as the coach.

“Learning from [Conroy’s] experiences will be really beneficial,” she said.

Sophomore James Markert hopes that participating in mock trial will not only help him with his team building and public speaking skills, but also help him decide if law school is the right path for him.

“[Conroy] knows what she’s talking about and has lots of connections in the law community,” he said.

Conroy believes the benefit is mutual.

“Their enthusiasm is contagious. Teaching is a great way to think to yourself ‘this is why I do this,’” she said.

The program is still taking candidates for the team. They meet on Monday and Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. in Old Main.

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