NATIONAL TRIAL TEAM MIDYEAR TRYOUTS
Tryouts for the National Trial Team of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law will be held on Thursday, November 14, 2013.
First, congratulations on having the courage to try out. That is a big step in developing your critical thinking and advocacy skills. The rewards of being on the National Trial Team are exponential. You will learn a great deal and be more prepared in the world of trial practice than many practicing attorneys. If you successfully commit yourself, at the end of your experience, you will be ready to embark on a very effective trial career. You do not need to have taken Evidence or Trial Practice I to try out. We understand that you have likely not taken these classes yet.
What does it mean to be on The National Trial Team? The National Trial Team is the premier team that represents our law school nationally on the mock trial stage. In addition to the National Trial Team being an excellent learning experience – one which educates you to the highest levels of professionalism – it is considered both an honor and a responsibility to be on the team. As a member of the team, you are representing not only yourself, but your team, your coach, and your school. Students who are invited to be members of The National Trial Team are expected to commit to the team for a full academic year.
What are the benefits of being on The National Trial Team? Riches beyond your wildest dreams! (…that is a joke.) You will work extremely hard, but it will be one of the most beneficial experiences of your law school career. You will learn how to analyze cases, become well-versed in the Rules of Evidence, become proficient in presenting cases for trial, and learn the value of working with others when preparing cases for trial.
Is there more than one National Trial Team? No. There is only one National Trial Team at DU. There are approximately twenty (20) students who represent the law school on The National Trial Team each year on the national stage. Once on the team, team members will be assigned to different “tourney squads” to compete in different tournaments, but all of the team members are on the same National Trial Team.
Do I receive in-class credit for being on The National Trial Team? Yes. Three (3) “in-class” credits are received each semester for participation on the teams, and students receive a grade each semester.
Who can sign-up for a tryout? Tryouts are open to all current 2L students, and 3L evening students (i.e. anyone not graduating this spring or next winter). Important: We understand that some students will not have had courses such as Evidence, Basic Trial Practice, etc. so do not let this discourage you from trying out.
Where will the tryouts be held? The tryouts will be held in Room 190 of SCOL.
How do I sign-up to tryout? Sign-up slots will be posted outside of Professor Schott’s office door (Office 230-D…which is located in the library — off to the right, behind the student printers).
What is involved in the tryouts? Tryouts will occur in 10 minute intervals. Your actual time presenting “in the well” will only be about 15 minutes total (if you are required to present a Cross Examination) but anticipate on the tryout process taking forty-five (45) minutes to one (1) hour, from top to bottom. First, tryouts will consist of you presenting an Opening Statement to the coaches ot the team and the returning team members (so about 10 to 12 people will be in the room). Your Opening Statement presentation will last between 3 to 5 minutes and will be based upon a factual scenario that will be posted on this website on the Monday of Tryout Week. In an effort to reduce the amount of time required to prepare for the tryouts – particularly as Finals approach –– the factual statement is posted just 3 days before your tryout. This is by design. We do not want you spending an inordinate amount of time away from your studies at this time of year preparing for these tryouts. Secondly, upon completing your Opening Statement, you may be asked to perform an additional impromptu Cross Examination. You do not need to prepare anything in advance for this second part.
When is the fact pattern for the tryouts released? As mentioned, the topic and information that will be used for the Tryouts will be posted on this page on the Monday of the week of the tryouts (so 3 days before the tryouts).
Will there be magic or sorcery involved in the tryouts? No. Magic and sorcery were removed from the program after the unfortunate “three-headed horse incident” a few years back.
Are there any forms that I need to complete for the tryout? Yes. There are two forms that each student must complete to be able to tryout. First, when you sign-up for a time slot, you must also leave a completed Candidate Information Sheet (CIS) in the plastic inbox outside of Professor Schott’s office (230-D, to the right after you enter the library). The blank CIS form is available as a PDF or as a Word Document. (Your sign-up time slot will not be honored until you complete and submit this informational form.) Secondly, also on this webpage is a Letter-Agreement. You will need to also read this form and submit it with your CIS. Please read it carefully before signing it. This assures that you are aware of the commitment required to be on the National Trial Team.
What should I wear to my tryout? Courtroom attire is recommended. (Suit and tie, etc.)
Should I use visual aids in my tryout? While some students elect to use visual aids, they are of little significance in the tryouts. If you elect to use a visual aid, do not spend a lot of money on it. Truly, we are looking at things such as the structure of your Opening Statement, your efficiency of words, the clarity of your presentation, etc.
Can I be involved in other student organizations or on a law review and also be on The National Trial Team? You bet. We have a strong history of students being members of The National Trial Team while also being on a law review, or an officer of The Moot Court Board, or the Student Bar Association, and more. In fact, we have had National Trial Team members who were simultaneously on a law review AND enrolled in a clinic all in the same semester/year.
What is required of a member of the National Trial Team and when does the class meet? Being on the National Trial Team is more work than the average course which you will take in law school. Different squads from The National Trial Team compete in tournaments in both the fall and the spring. Being on The National Trial Team requires very rigorous class and practice times. Students interested in The National Trial Team must be prepared to work a minimum of 15 hours a week in class, practice, and case preparation. Team class times are mandatory. All class times for The National Trial Team are THURSDAY EVENINGS FROM 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Additionally, Run-Throughs are usually held on either Saturday or Sunday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the weeks leading up to the semi-annual tournament (so about 8 to 10 weeks a year). Besides practicing as a team with the coaches, students are also expected to be meeting with each other without the coaches.
If I am selected to be a member of The National Trial Team, do I have to pay my own travel expenses? No. The Advocacy Department covers your travel expenses to all department-approved tournaments.
How will I know if I am invited to join The National Trial Team? After the tryouts, some students will be asked to interview again with the coaching staff of The National Trial Team. Within seven (7) days after your original tryout, you will either receive an email letting you know that you have not been invited to take the next step, OR you will receive an invitation to join the Spring Trial Team Course of the National Trial Team — which is a three-credit (3) graded trial practice-style course. Invitations to the spring course will be based upon a variety of qualities, including but not limited to, a student’s ability to work with others, courtroom presence, basic trial techniques, professionalism, other competing activities of the student, and the needs of the team. At the END of the Summer Trial Team Course, the coaches will decide if you are invited to join The National Trial Team. Know that we only invite the exact number of students to the summer course that we are seeking to have on the team next year (so if you are asked to attend the summer course, it is likely that you will be invited to join The National Trial Team).
Can I be on another mock trial or moot court team in addition to being on The National Trial Team? BECAUSE OF THE HUGE TIME COMMITMENT, IF YOU ARE ALREADY COMPETING ON ANOTHER TRAVELING TEAM YOU CANNOT BE ON ONE OF THE NATIONAL TRIAL TEAMS.
Will I be a “starter” on the National Trial Team? Being on a team your first year, you likely will be a “Spartan” (alternate). Although not starting, Spartans fill a vital role as “sparring squad” partners. Spartans also assist with team responsibilities (just as the Starters do), and they also are expected to fill-in at the tournaments if it becomes necessary. Alternates are expected to be at every practice, and they are graded just as Starters are graded.
Can I ask questions of the current National Trial Team members about the tryouts ? You bet. The current members of The National Trial Team are listed on this website. You are welcome to email any of them with questions.
We look forward to seeing you at the tryouts. Most of all, good luck!
Sincerely. Professor Schott, Director – The Advocacy Department