Volunteers coach Legal Prep students to victory at mock trial competition

This past year, a team of DePaul College of Law volunteers worked with Legal Prep Charter Academy ninth graders to prepare them for their end of the year mock trial competition, which took place on Tuesday, May 13, 2013 at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Building. 

DePaul worked with two groups of Legal Prep students and both groups won their competitions. The case was a civil matter involving an allegation that a police officer used excessive force when arresting a teenage boy, who was the plaintiff. The DePaul teams represented the defense.

Several DePaul volunteers also served as judges for other teams, including College of Law Dean Greg Mark, alumna Linda Bryceland (JD '86), and Pro Bono Director Cheryl Price. Professor Mark Moller, alumna Jessica Schneider (JD '10), College of Law staff member Elizabeth Boe, and law student Beckee Birger coached the DePaul teams during the competition. Dean Mark was the only law school dean who volunteered to assist at the competition.     

DePaul College of Law Dean Mark serves as Legal Prep Charter School mock trial judge.
For many of the students, the mock trial program was their first in-depth study of our legal system and the components of a trial. The Legal Prep students prepared and delivered both opening and closing statements and called witnesses for direct and cross examination. DePaul volunteers, who have been working with Legal Prep students since September 2012, first taught lessons on these topics and then helped students prepare their parts for the mock trial.

DePaul’s volunteer team was comprised of law students, faculty, staff, and alumni. They included Dean Gregory Mark, Professor Mark Moller, Elizabeth Boe, Associate Director of Recruiting, Law Career Services, Cheryl Price, Director of the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, Alumni Linda Bryceland, Jessica Schneider, Andrea McKenna, and Michelle Miller, and law students Rebecca Birger, Sarah Gorham, Taylor Goulborn, Will Guardia, and Jacquita Richardson.   

DePaul alumna Jessica Schneider watches student perform after coaching her on trial techniques.
The volunteers really enjoyed working with and getting to know the students. According to alumna Jessica Schneider "Working with the students was really rewarding, especially as you saw them grasp new concepts and get excited about being part of a trial. It was hard for me to get away from work, but every time I began a teaching session with the students I was always happy to be there and it would truly brighten my day. We taught challenging concepts, but usually found a way to help the students relate to them in a way they would understand.

Despite the challenges it was great to see it all come together in the mock trial at the end of the school year. I was very proud of them!"  DePaul’s Pro Bono Director, Cheryl Price, agrees, “The Legal Prep students were really fun to work with. They were excited and interested about the legal process and worked hard to prepare for the mock trial. We look forward to working with them next year.”