Austin Margulies founded the mock trial club in 2016. The club plans to attend a tournament called the Quaker Classic at the University of Pennsylvania held Nov. 10-11, 2018. (Courtesy of Austin Margulies)

Mock trial club encourages proficiency in pre-law

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The mock trial club brought to Lehigh’s campus in 2016 seeks to bring students of every major together to become passionate and proficient in pre-law.

Austin Margulies, ’20, the president of mock trial, said the American Mock Trial Association releases a 150-page case study at the beginning of each academic year which includes relevant law, witness statements and physical exhibits that both the plaintiff and defense should use to support their arguments. In addition to learning the case, the team meets each week to practice and prepare for tournaments.

The club’s vice president Nathan Tokala, ’20, is a computer science major who has no intention of going into law.

“One of the big things is connecting people who are interested in law with a real-world foundation through trial law practice and meeting with actual trial lawyers,” Tokala said. “Also, more broadly, I think it provides public speaking skills and rational thinking experiences.”

This year, Margulies said the team is planning to attend the Quaker Classic at the University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 10-11, to scrimmage teams from schools such as Bucknell and Lafayette and travel to other regional tournaments.

Tournaments are important for practice, but Marguiles said they are also an opportunity to hear ideas from other teams. Every team can change its ideas and strategies up until the national competition in February, which is the larger goal.

“It’s so funny because we spend so much time preparing, and it can get blown up an hour before a competition,” Margulies said. “I think that’s the fun of it. If we kept doing the exact same thing, it would get boring.”

Another way the team looks to improve is by heeding the advice of its two professional attorneys, Rory Driscole and Robert Eyer.

“It’s fun to watch the students take your advice and blossom,” Driscole said. “I let them come up with their own ideas, and then I will tell them whether it is a good idea or how we can tweak it.”

In order to become a member of the club, students must go through an interview process. The club typically consists of 12-15 members.

“We are not going for quantity,” Margulies said. “We are going for quality individuals because for the amount of work that you have to put into something like this, it’s much better to have people that really care about it.”

The team typically recruits at the beginning of the fall semester. However, members encourage interested students to reach out and sit in on meetings to learn more about the club.

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