The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Today I had the privilege of volunteering for the 17th Annual Wade Edwards High School Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. Hundreds of students across North Carolina competed at the regional level in nine cities: Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville, Asheville, High Point, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Winston-Salem.
For many years, I was the Site Coordinator for the local competition at the Forsyth County Hall of Justice, until I missed a few years due to my youngest daughter’s frequent hospitalizations for sickle cell disease. Needless to say, I am very grateful that her health has stabilized and that I had the opportunity to volunteer for a few hours this morning. My good friend, Rhonda Rodenbough, an experienced paralegal at Wells Jenkins Lucas & Jenkins in Winston-Salem and president-elect of NCAJ’s Legal Assistant Division, was this year’s Site Coordinator, and brought two paralegal volunteers from her firm, Lorrie Bennett and Lora Clayton.
To prepare for the competition, teams worked with teachers and attorneys in reviewing case evidence, courtroom procedure and legal arguments. A panel of legal professionals scored each team based on how well they demonstrated critical thinking skills, public speaking, courtroom demeanor and teamwork. Courtroom art and journalism contests were held in tandem with the mock trials.
The top 16 teams will advance to the State Finals to be held at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on March 21-22, 2009. The winner of he North Carolina State Finals will compete in a national-level competition, the American Mock Trial Invitational, in May 2009. (NCAJ Press Release)
Volunteering for your local high school mock trial competition is a great opportunity to give back to your community, as well as network with other legal professionals. It’s inspiring to see the enthusiastic, polite (and extremely well-dressed) high school students demonstrating their in-depth knowledge of courtroom procedure. One team’s advisor, a local attorney, told me that he had been advising teams for 17 years, and that nine of his former high school students had become lawyers.