UF’s LitiGators win major national tournaments.
UF’s Mock Trial team, the LitiGators, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017 in grand style — by having its winningest year in the team’s history, placing in several regional meets. In only its second trip to nationals, the LitiGators placed 8th out of the 48 top teams at the American Mock Trial Association tournament in Los Angeles in April. The team’s coach, Associate Professor of Political Science Laura Sjoberg, says this young team has done impressively well. “The students are incredibly dedicated,” she says. “They spend 20 hours a week preparing.”
“It came up in every interview that I did … it was a major selling point for me … About an eighth of my class at Harvard has some Mock Trial experience.”
Each year, the students work with 200 pages of the same case material. This year’s mock topic is an attempted murder from online dating. Team members play both attorneys and witnesses. “The witness will have an affidavit but no specifics, so the students get to create the characters,” says Sjoberg. “The individual can play up or down the flaws in the affidavit and mold the character. It’s like Dungeons and Dragons for the courtroom.”
Matthew Solomon ’18 is applying to law school and plans to become a lawyer. “Being a member of the UF Mock Trial team has prepared me more than I could ever properly explain. This organization teaches you fundamental lawyering skills: how to think abstractly and analytically about problems, how to write and speak with purpose and brevity, and how to ‘think like a lawyer.’ Being able to analyze evidence and possessing an advanced understanding of the intricacies of trial advocacy allow former Mock Trial competitors to excel in law school and beyond,” he says. “Members of the Mock Trial attend some of the most prestigious law schools in America and become members of legal journals, law school trial teams, and law school moot court teams.”
Brian Kitchen ’15, a second-year law student at Harvard, says, “Aside from GPA and LSAT, Mock Trial is one of the biggest predictors of law school admittance,” he says. “It gives you an easy way to demonstrate genuine interest and to pivot back to a selling point on your résumé. It came up in every interview that I did, and I’d say it was a major selling point for me. So, from just a logistics standpoint, it’s very advantageous. About an eighth of my class at Harvard has some Mock Trial experience.”
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