Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Mock Trials Give Students First Step Toward Careers in Law

High school mock trial season in Ohio has come to an end with Springfield High School taking the state title after the final round of competition at the Moyer Judicial Center.

For two days, 28 teams from across the state showcased their hard work at the Franklin County Courthouse, vying for a spot in the championship at the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Ahead of the competition, Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy wished the students luck.

“Regardless of today’s outcome, tomorrow holds an opportunity for you to take the first step toward serving the legal needs of others.”

This year, Springfield High School defeated Archbishop Hoban during the third and final round to move on to the national competition.

Sponsored by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE), the Ohio Mock Trial program is the largest non-athletic competition in the state. Nearly 3,000 students compete with the help of more than 1,000 legal professionals who volunteer as legal advisors, case committee members, and judges.

The committee meets in late spring to choose the case each team will prepare and argue leading up to the championship.

“It seems, you know, in a blink of an eye we’re here in this moment and the case has been brought to life,” says OCLRE Executive Director Kate Strickland. “The students’ arguments are beyond compelling. They’ve brought life to the witnesses. It’s such an exciting time.”

For the students, it’s more than a competition. Many see mock trial as the start to their careers in law.

“Law is obviously one of my bigger things,” says Hannah Mattison, a member of the championship team. “I am hoping to pursue a career as an art attorney dealing with intellectual property law, maybe working with a museum or an auction house.”

For teammate Melissa McMahon, who won the Outstanding Witness Award over the weekend, a career in criminal law may be in the future.

“I’ve also thought about going into child law – seeing how that environment is, I honestly don’t know which one I am going to go with yet,” she says.

Ben Oehlers is still deciding the path he wants to take after graduation, but law is certainly an option.
He first joined the mock trial team as a way to compete academically and challenge himself.

“I kept doing it because I really found a lot of things I could improve on in mock trial and just in public speaking as well,” says Oehlers. “That was very beneficial to me being able to know the ways I could improve in public speaking, creating arguments, thinking logically and rationally – those are all useful skills that I built. I really enjoyed building them through mock trial.”

Beyond the competition, Strickland explained that seeing the way the students treat each other as they display their skills and civility is a rewarding part of the experience.