What is Mock Trial?

What is Mock Trial?

When people ask me that question, I give them the standard answer.

“It’s a public speaking competition where we receive a fictional court case. We prepare each side of the case and try the case with other teams across the country.”

I give them the standard answer because when people ask what mock trial is, most of them honestly don’t care. They just want to know the basics, and then they want to move on with the conversation.

“Oh, that sounds neat!”

But the truth is, mock trial is not just a public speaking competition. It’s not just a fake court case for undergrads. The truth is, mock trial is far more than what people see on the surface.

The weekend of March 23rd, I had the pleasure of competing with the University of Tennessee Mock Trial’s A team at the Memphis Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS). At the conclusion of the tournament, we were a single point away from qualifying for the National Championship Tournament. We poured our hearts and souls into State of Midlands v. Dylan Hendricks, and we came up a single point short. We sat in closing ceremonies for a bit – angry, sad, and overall just defeated. And the thing is, if mock trial were just a public speaking competition, I probably would have quit by now. 6+ hours of practice per week, whole weekends of competition, tens of hours of driving, missing class. . .all to be shut down by a single point? However, as I said, mock trial is not just a public speaking competition.

Mock trial is Margaret Frank ~almost~ hitting the high note in Praying. Mock trial is Andres Lozano making endless memes about the other team. It’s Kylie Ronnow laughing at something hilarious that Mary Grace Johnson said. It’s eating at Smashburger before a tournament at the suggestion of Em Cullum. It’s Taylor Massey sassing an attorney on the stand to remind the other team that UTMT is a force to be reckoned with (re: “Ma’am”). It’s long nights and even longer laughs in a random room in HSS. It’s weekend-long sleepovers with people who grow to be some of your best friends. Mock trial is, above all, a family.

Through mock trial, I have met some of the most incredible people. People from all different backgrounds that elsewhere, would probably not have been introduced to me. People who have taught me more about myself, about life…about everything really, than I care to admit most of the time. People who I can’t wait to watch become incredible teachers, lawyers, actors, you name it. Mock trial means so much more to me than that single point could ever take away, and I am so incredibly thankful that I found such an incredible organization. There truly is nothing like it.

So if you’ve ever asked me what mock trial is…now you know.


Kiersten Marsh


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