Covid-19


Our head coach is a germaphobe. Whatever the recommended safety measures may be - he will likely do more. Additionally, IF NECESSARY, our program has a plan to cycle through online and-or in-person classroom learning AND trial advocacy activities and practices. We have also made arrangements with other schools to conduct scrimmages and trials using on-line platforms. We gave it a test-run this summer. It was AWESOME. While our preferred method of conducting trials is in-person, the simple fact is that most courts are currently holding proceedings virtually. There is an art and a science to effectively advocating virtually. This is an excellent opportunity to study both.
YES -- with caveats as follows. We will scrupulously observe the dictates of governmental and University officials. Also, unless there is guaranteed socially-distanced seating on any common carrier, we will NOT use that method/company for travel. If there are safe personal travel options, we will use those. We will attempt to enjoy as much of our robust travel schedule as we can. However, safety is paramount. If there is a safe way to travel, we will. If not, we won't.

What is...?


Mock Trial is a competitive trial simulation. Two teams present all the aspects of a regular trial, including opening statements, direct and cross examinations, and closing arguments.
The Dornsife Trial Advocacy Program (Mock Trial) is an organization on campus that helps others through advocacy, community outreach, and law school preparation through working on projects with practicing lawyers. As a part of that preparation, the Program competes on the American Mock Trial Association circuit throughout the year. For more information, click here.

Eligibility


The Trial Advocacy Program is available to all USC undergraduate students. We generally require that you be enrolled in 17 or less units in the Fall and Spring semesters. Due to the structure of AMTA competitions, membership to the Trial Advocacy Program is a two semester commitment.
Prior experience with public speaking is helpful, but not required. We will teach you everything you need to know!
Mock Trial is open to ALL USC undergraduate students. We welcome charismatic individuals, strong public speakers and agile thinkers. The College Dean's Office offers this experiential learning opportunity to everyone, regardless of major.
Yes! As long as you are a registered student in the fall, you can compete the following semester as well.

Tryouts


To join the Team, you must have a successful tryout and register for POSC 398. Once you successfully tryout, you may register for the class. You must register for the class in order to join the Team. The Team has rules and regulations which you are required to commit to and scrupulously observe for membership.
Tryouts are happening RIGHT NOW!!! For more information, click here.  We generally host tryouts the second or third weekend of the second of classes in the Fall Semester. Because membership to the team lasts for two semesters, we do not host tryouts for Spring Semester.
For tryouts, students will typically be given an abridged case packet with relevant witness statements. Students will present (1) an opening statement, (2) a cross examination, and (3) a witness portrayal as specified in the packet. Each section has a time limit of 5 minutes. No notes are allowed during the tryout.
We highly recommend going online to figure out how each portion of a tryout works. Google is your friend. You can find good examples of opening statements here, and witness portrayals here.

The Class


Yes. Once you make it through the tryout process and commit to joining the team, our TA will reach out to you about the number of units for which you will be taking the class, POSC 398. Then, you will be issued D Clearance to register. Keep in mind -- POSC 398 is an upper division academically rigorous class for which much work is required and it is graded A through F. This trial advocacy program is curricular. It is not co-curricular. It is not a club. It is TREMENDOUSLY FUN, but it requires WORK.
To be on the team for a competitive season, you must take POSC 398 for at least 1 unit in each of the Fall and Spring semesters of each year that you compete. POSC 398 carries 1, 2 or 4 units - graded A through F. You can take POSC 398 for a cumulative maximum of 8 units throughout undergrad.
Yes. The class requires that you buy about $200 worth of books. Particulars will be on the syllabus you'll receive when you join the Team. Sometimes you can get the books used or from alumni.

Competition


Competition dates vary slightly from year to year, but we usually attend two or three competitions in November, two or three in January, one in February, one in March, and the National Tournament in April.
The University covers hotel and travel costs to and from tournaments. Competitors pay for their own food while traveling.
All members meet for classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 PM. Students also meet for several hours on some weekends when competitions are approaching. Sometimes classes run longer or shorter. When we meet on weekends, we generally avoid Saturdays.
Trial Advocacy requires a significant time commitment. For the first few weeks, students will spend about 4-6 hours a week in class. Once the competitive season starts, students may spend upwards of 20 hours a week doing trial advocacy, both at practices and competitions.
Competitions are a major component of the Trial Advocacy Program. Members rely on each other to be available as one person's absence can prevent the rest of the team from competing. If there is an important reason why you cannot attend a competition, speak with the coaches as soon as possible to sort out the issue. But, quite honestly, don't expect much consideration if it's not dead serious. Competitions are EXTREMELY important. Legend has it that long ago, Prof. Orange needed abdominal surgery but postponed it until after the Team's competitive season. Many alumni talk of seeing him laying flat on his back on the floor at airports to keep his abdominal wall from further tearing while waiting on connecting flights -- THAT is how important competitions are. If it's not dead serious, coaches won't want to hear very much about your excuse. But, if it is, they are very understanding and supportive.

Law School Preparation


This program is well connected with attorneys in major cities around the country. Students in our program have interned for various civil rights attorneys and firms, the public defender's office, the DA's office and the United States Attorneys' Office. Our coaches also act as references when job hunting, and have helped students get jobs working for law firms and on Capitol Hill.
Yes. See above. Also, students in the USC Trial Advocacy program have trained with immigration lawyers to defend and free detained migrants, and represented homeless individuals in the CARES program. Students with a strong work ethic sometimes also intern for the coaches over the summers. Students have also worked on a number of groundbreaking civil rights cases over the years.
Yes! The program has formed a partnership with Blueprint so that members can get a discount on the LSAT preparation course. Students also get LSAT test prep mentoring from alumni and other members of the program.
YES. During our 20 year history 99 percent of our law school bound alumni have been offered law school scholarships. When they get to law school, they do phenomenally well. Our alumni want to tell you all about what they did and how they did it through our mentoring program. Our alumni - current law students, lawyers and other professionals frequently come to speak with the team about what to expect from law school and in career life. If you are unsure about law school or where you want to go, this nation-wide network is an excellent way to find out.  Connect with alumni who are in various stages of their educational, professional and legal careers through our mentoring program. For more information, click here.