Sign up to our Newsletter

Mock Trial in High School: What You Need to Know

May 2, 2024
3 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 5/2/24

Aspiring lawyers should consider participating in a mock trial in high school to begin preparing for their careers. To learn more about what mock trials are, read on.

The typical extracurriculars high school students participate in are school sports-teams, debate clubs, yearbook committee, part-time jobs at local fast food restaurants, and volunteer positions at hospitals, food banks, or shelters. 

However, another highly valuable extracurricular students should consider participating in is mock trials. This activity is particularly useful for students interested in political or legal careers. If you’ve never heard of mock trials before or want more information on how to get involved in them, this guide has got you covered!

What Is a Mock Trial in High School?

Aspiring lawyers should consider participating in a mock trial in high school to begin preparing for their careers. Read on for everything you need to know.

You stand before the judge, heart pounding as you prepare to deliver your opening statement. The courtroom falls silent as all eyes turn toward you. While it may feel like the real thing, this is just a mock trial. But don't be fooled - these simulated courtroom experiences can be just as intense and rewarding as the actual practice of law.

For high school students aspiring to become future attorneys, participating in mock trials offers an incredible opportunity to gain early exposure to the legal field. More than just an extracurricular activity, these trials provide a training ground to develop foundational skills like public speaking, critical thinking, and teamwork - tools that will benefit law students in any future career path.

So let's explore how they work, and why every high schooler should consider joining their school's team. Be prepared to step into the courtroom and experience the exhilaration of litigation firsthand.

How Does a Mock Trial Work in High School

There are several steps involved in mock trials:

Step One: Preparation

Cases are available for viewing and distribution several weeks before the start of the first round. Students must prepare for both sides of the case, as they will not know if they will be acting as the prosecution or the defense during the trial.

Part of this preparation will include delegating tasks to the members of your team. Each team is composed of between six and nine teammates, of which three will act as attorneys and three will act as witnesses during each round. If there is a seventh member, they will act as a timekeeper. 

Step Two: Coin Toss

On the day of the trial, a coin toss will be used to determine which team will represent the defense and which will represent the prosecution, which is why your team must craft comprehensive arguments for both sides!

Step Three: Opening Statements

Both sides will present their opening statements to the court before witnesses are brought to the stand. This statement should outline what they will be arguing, the evidence they will be using, and the witnesses they intend to call on. 

Here, students’ articulation and persuasion will be assessed. 

Step Four: Witness Testimony 

Each attorney will be responsible for the direct examination and cross-examination of a witness. You may only object to questions being asked of the witnesses you examine. There are only a few grounds of objection admissible in these sessions, which teams must familiarize themselves with during their prep. 

You will also be given the chance to re-examine your witness after the cross-examination is complete. During the testimonies, the prosecution will also be expected to introduce evidence to the courtroom that can be objected to by the opposing side. The defense may also introduce evidence to the courtroom, but it is not required. 

Step Five: Closing Statements

After the witnesses have been thoroughly examined, each side will give their closing statements to summarize the key evidence presented and offer their final reasons for the judge to rule in their favor.

Step Six: Scores

At the end of the trial, the judging panel and presiding judge will determine which team had the stronger argument and score them. The precise scoring techniques will depend on the organization and level at which you are competing. 

The Benefits of Mock Trial for High Schoolers

Participating in mock trials offers numerous benefits for high school students, helping them develop essential skills for success in college and future careers:

  1. Critical thinking: Mock trials require students to analyze complex issues, interpret laws, and evaluate arguments, enhancing their critical thinking abilities
  2. Public speaking: Students gain confidence in expressing ideas clearly and persuasively through presenting arguments and questioning witnesses in simulated courtroom settings
  3. Research skills: Preparing for these trials involves researching legal issues, gathering evidence, and locating relevant sources, strengthening students' research abilities
  4. Teamwork: Working together on a trial team fosters collaboration, communication, and conflict-resolution skills
  5. Legal knowledge: Participants gain a deeper understanding of the legal system, courtroom procedures, and legal terminology
  6. College applications: Experience on trials demonstrates drive, dedication, and valuable skills to college admissions committees.

For aspiring lawyers, mock trials provide early exposure to the legal field, but the skills developed benefit students pursuing any career path

This will not only be useful for your college resume but can be used to explain your dedication to becoming an attorney in your law school personal statement or interview. 

You may also begin building your network by meeting amazing mentors who can help you throughout your legal career! If you’re an extraordinary participant you can also qualify for awards, scholarships, or judging positions, which will look great on your college and law school resume!


Below we’ve answered the most common questions about competing in a trial.

1. What Skills Do You Get From Mock Trial?

Participating in mock trials helps develop critical thinking, public speaking, and analytical skills. Students learn to construct persuasive arguments, think on their feet, and communicate effectively.

2. Are Mock Trials Worth It?

Yes, mock trials are absolutely worth it for developing critical skills and gaining valuable experience. Participating in mock trials helps students hone their abilities in public speaking, critical thinking, persuasion, and forming cohesive arguments.

3. Do Mock Trials Look Good for College?

Yes, participating in mock trials can significantly boost your college application. Experience on a trial demonstrates strong analytical thinking, communication skills, and a clear drive to pursue a career in law or politics.

4. How Do I Compete in Mock Trials?

To compete in mock trials, first join a team at your school or university. Teams typically consist of 6-12 members who prepare both the prosecution/plaintiff and defense sides of a provided case packet.

5. Are Mock Trials Difficult?

Yes, mock trials can be quite challenging due to their unpredictable nature and the need for quick thinking. Participants must be able to craft persuasive arguments for both the prosecution/plaintiff and defense sides of a case. This requires a thorough analysis of case materials, including witness affidavits, exhibits, and legal documents.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve established, mock trials in high school can serve as excellent didactic tools for aspiring lawyers to gain confidence and insight into courtroom proceedings and how to argue a case. On a more general note, these can also just help you become a more confident speaker, which is a skill everyone can benefit from! 

Accordingly, you should consider adding this extracurricular to your college resume to not only wow the admissions committee but to help you excel throughout your post-secondary journey! 

Schedule A Free Consultation

Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.

You May Also Like