What Is a Mock Trial? 

Waiting for a verdict can be stressful. It leaves even the most seasoned attorneys wondering if the jury will rule in their client’s favor. Mock trials give new meaning to the old adage, “practice makes perfect.” Mock trials ensure our attorneys enter the courtroom with an advantage.

Think of a mock trial as a rehearsal, allowing your legal team to prepare for trial and test different approaches before the court date arrives. Mock trials not only help associate attorneys hone their skills, but best position clients for success.

Allow Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine, PC to explain.

Understanding a Mock Trial

Many personal injury law firms rely on mock trials to help with actual cases – both for trial preparation and with settlement negotiations. In contrast to the competitions that high school, college, and law school students participate in, these mock trials may take several forms, depending on the case at hand. For instance, a mini-mock trial may be held to allow trial lawyers to explore different strategies for presenting evidence or unique issues within a case.

How Do Mock Trials Help New Associate Attorneys?

Mock trials can be incredibly beneficial to associate attorneys looking to gain valuable, hands-on experience. Associate attorneys often take advantage of the opportunity to test their approach before they set foot in the courtroom. This allows them to make improvements based on potential jurors’ feedback – something that can’t be done once the actual jury has heard the case.

How to Prep for a Mock Trial

To prepare for a mock trial case, our experienced trial lawyers at Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine, PC recommend the following:

  • Familiarize yourself with the details of the case.
  • Determine which facts strengthen and weaken each side.
  • Analyze witnesses’ statements.
  • Create witness questions for the direct and cross-examination.
  • Develop an overall strategy.
  • Review the case and write your closing argument.
  • Be prepared to make adjustments as the trial progresses.

How To Conduct A Realistic Mock Trial

To maximize the benefits of a mock trial, it’s important to ensure it closely resembles reality. Good mock trials typically follow these steps:

STEP 1:  SELECT AN UNBIASED PANEL.

Selecting the right panel is key. Send mock jurors a questionnaire to identify neutral parties and include ethnic diversity. Be sure to pay jurors appropriately, anywhere between $75 to $100 a day.

STEP 2: DEVELOP A SOLID PRESENTATION STRATEGY.

In some cases, the mock jurors are supplied with written factual backgrounds, relevant documents, and other evidence. Then, they listen to the final arguments live. This approach is not best, though, because it does not allow mock jurors to evaluate real witnesses. In fact, most have already made up their minds before closing statements are made. That’s why our trial lawyers advise that opening statements are made before evidence is presented. This process most closely mirrors that of a real trial.

Some personal injury law firms use live witnesses, but most do not. Live testimony leaves too much room for error, and because only one side’s witnesses often testify, results are skewed from the start. Mock trials by video, featuring taped depositions, can maximize authenticity. When taped testimonies are unavailable, actors may be used. Associate attorneys can then perfect their opening and closing statements by giving them live before the mock jurors.

STEP 3: ELIMINATE EXTRANEOUS DETAILS.

To streamline the process, avoid presenting every minute detail of the case. Try to limit opening statements and closing arguments to about half an hour per side. Keep in mind that real jurors may have several weeks to digest the facts presented, while mock jury panels must reach a verdict within just a few hours.

STEP 4: DETERMINE THE TYPE OF MOCK TRIAL.

Most legal teams conduct mock trials in a hotel, while some opt to use their own personal injury law firm’s facilities. We recommend choosing a neutral location so that the mock jurors do not know which side is holding the mock trial.

STEP 5: PREP FOR THE DELIBERATION PROCESS.

Some trial lawyers prefer to sit in on deliberations, but be aware that this may sway jurors’ decision. Choosing a neutral party to supervise has its downside as well, preventing attorneys from hearing the mock juror’s initial reactions and thought processes. Video cameras are a good solution, providing associate attorneys with footage to review later on.

 


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