Law in Contemporary Society

Envisioning Myself in the Courtroom

-- By GodardSolomon - 12 Mar 2022 (second draft 29 May 2022)


Ever since high school, I was sure that I wanted to become an attorney. I was in the Legal Academy at my magnet high school and here is where I got an introduction to this complex field of work. I have always been someone who learns better through hands-on learning, so it was not simply my classes in the Legal Academy that helped me, but rather my participation in Mock Trial that truly allowed me to see what my future as an attorney would look like. This same principle later amplified itself through my recent exposure to Moot Court in law school. Moot Court once again showed me not only what being an attorney may look like, but it affirmed for me, during a time where I was having doubts, that I was on the path I was meant to be on.

What is Mock Trial and Moot Court?

Mock Trial is a team and competition-oriented activity where students take on the role of either a lawyer or witness (or both) and study a given, fictional case. The case outlines the facts of the civil or criminal matter, the relevant characters, and the trial materials needed. The team is tasked with creating a theory of the case for trial and preparing witnesses for direct and cross examinations while also being ready to deliver opening and closing arguments. The team competes as one side, either plaintiff/prosecution or defense, at trial against another team, mirroring the steps of an actual trial.

On the other hand, Moot Court essentially requires students to pair up and conduct legal research for a given case. The case has already been tried at the trial court and is now being appealed to a higher court. The duo must then prepare a legal brief for either the Petitioner or Respondent side of the issue and submit the brief with full legal citations and formatting. In addition to the writing, the team must then prepare to give an oral argument before the appellate court in hopes of winning for their side. The oral argument is conducted at competition with the brief being scored in advance.

My Experience

I started with very little experience at all in public speaking and was quite terrified of it. During my first Mock Trial competition, I struggled tremendously to get out of my comfort zone and I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked to. When I later went to university, there was no active Mock Trial team, so my sophomore year I helped bring one to campus. This was the major change in my Mock Trial journey. Being able to not only compete in Mock Trial during two years of my undergraduate career, but also help reinstate the organization and later be President helped me realize how much I was interested in law school and oral advocacy in general.

I only started Moot Court at Columbia this past year. I am a part of the Frederick Douglass Moot Court team which handles issues related to social justice and civil rights. My previous six years of experience in Mock Trial transferred over nicely to moot court, but there was still plenty of room for improvement and learning. The most engaging part of the experience for me was the oral argument portion at regional competition; the oral advocacy component affirmed my interest in becoming a litigator.

The Impact of These Involvements


From a practical standpoint, Mock Trial and Moot Court have allowed me to strengthen my public speaking, argumentation, legal research and writing skills. Where I once was afraid to speak before a crowd, let alone a panel of judges, I now find the challenge to be exciting. These two involvements have also given me deeper attention to detail having had to comb through many statements of facts and records. However, the tangible skills are not the only benefit I took away, two other benefits are prominent.

Stepping into various roles

I have always taken on the attorney role in Mock Trial. However, the benefit of practicing Mock Trial for so long was that I got to play different roles in the courtroom. I have been a timekeeper, a witness, and even a judge. This allowed me to see more than just the lawyer’s perspective, which gave me a more well-rounded view of the courtroom. For Moot Court, being able to work with a partner also showed me the essential aspect of collaboration during trial.

Seeing myself as an attorney

Being a first-generation, minority student, I believe that the biggest advantage of participating in both Mock Trial and Moot Court was being able to see myself as an attorney. Prior to these experiences, I had little exposure to the field and had no one around me who I could look to as an example. Being a lawyer felt like a distant dream, but these activities showed me that I not only could become a litigator, but that I could excel as one. Even as recently as this past semester in Moot Court, I received affirmation at competition that this was the path I desired to be on.


I credit both Mock Trial and Moot Court as essential building blocks in my legal career. Not only have these activities been the biggest skill-building opportunities for me as a future litigator, but they have allowed me to see myself in the actual role. I now don’t see the law as simply words in a casebook, but rather as information that can be applied to real situations in a courtroom. I know my career immediately after law school may not see me in a courtroom on a regular basis, but I hope to use these experiences to be the best oral advocate possible. My future as a litigator is drawing near, and I intend to continue developing these skills and nurturing this interest so that I am ready for the courtroom.

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r3 - 29 May 2022 - 17:37:21 - GodardSolomon
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