Top 5 Tips to Teaching a Mock Trial Class
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Preparing for and teaching a mock trial class can be stressful, especially for the first-time teacher or one who does not have a legal background. But it doesn't have to be, especially when using a thorough curriculum. As you prepare to teach your class, here are some helpful tips.
1. Know your class. You may be teaching your own family, or this might be the first semester you're teaching at a new co-op. The better you know your students, the better you can plan a class that is interesting and challenging, without being overwhelming. Will you be teaching middle school or high school students? Do these students have a particular interest in the law, or is it something their parents think they should do and their interest is minimal?
2. Lay the groundwork. Teach your students about the American legal system so they will understand the importance of what they are about to embark upon. They need to know the many players in the court system and understand their role in the class. A solid foundation in legal terms and concepts will make the entire experience take on greater significance for the students.
3. Let them choose. As much as possible, allow students to choose the role they will play in the mock trial. Be creative if you have too many students clamoring to be lawyers ... or none at all. Provide extra support for those who need it. A student might have a reading disability, but with the proper support, be able to deliver an astounding closing argument.
4. Bring in current or local cases. Students will always be particularly interested in cases that take place in their city, county or state. They may be better able to picture the events of the case, and can discuss the case with family and friends. However, an interesting case is the most important factor, not location of the case.
5. Find the right environment. A mock trial can take place in any room that is set up properly. But students and their family members who attend will probably have a more enjoyable, memorable time if you can arrange to hold your trial in a local courthouse. Just be sure to make arrangements early!
With a little forethought, the mock trial class you lead can be an amazing learning experience for everyone involved -- as well as a fun one.