The Mock Trial Program at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law is consistently ranked among the top 20 programs in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranked the Trial Advocacy Program No. 16 in the nation in its 2023 Best Graduate Schools guide. The program was also one of only 11 in the country to receive an A+ rating from preLaw Magazine in 2022.
The program was previously led by the dynamic and award-winning teaching duo of Professor Jay Leach and Professor Cary Bricker. They ran the program together for the last 17 years but retired in 2022, when they were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching Advocacy at the Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference. This award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated a distinct commitment and dedication to improving teaching methodology, advancing the standard of excellence, and fundamentally changing advocacy teaching methodologies.
Annie Deets joined McGeorge School of Law as the Director of Trial Advocacy and an Assistant Professor of Law on June 1, 2022, and Reza Rezvani joined McGeorge on August 1, 2022 as the Associate Director of Trial Advocacy and an Associate Professor of Law, Legal Practice.
McGeorge School of Law’s mock trial teams competes throughout the fall and spring semesters at some of the nation’s best intercollegiate competitions. The program’s leadership and student success have earned the law school a national reputation for the quality of its advocacy program. In 2020, McGeorge alumna Simone Leighty, ‘20, won the Top Gun Mock Trial Competition, making her the unofficial national trial advocacy champion, and the team has won many regional and national invitational tournaments over the years.
The Mock Trial Program trains students to become excellent trial lawyers by teaching them the art of persuasive advocacy in the courtroom. Students compete in trial competitions where they advocate for a client through all phases of litigation, including pretrial motions, opening statements, closings arguments, and direct and cross-examination. The students must analyze the facts and develop a theme and theory of the case. The cases cover both civil to criminal, and the trial fact patterns are often loosely based on real cases.
National All-Star Bracket Challenge
The Eglet Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution’s commitment to excellence persists. Second-year law student Mandi Weburg and third-year law students Alec Watson, Holly Pounders, and Darrin Baluyot won Region Three of the All-Star Bracket on Oct. 9, 2022 and competed at the National Finals in Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida in November 2022. Weburg was one of only two advocates out of 360 students competing in the country to receive an award for Best Advocate in all four rounds of the competition.
McGeorge’s team competed alongside 63 teams from other law schools in the national finals of the competition. The team was coached by Sacramento District Attorney Thien Ho, ‘98, and Sacramento County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Keith Hill, ‘96.
Annual San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association Mock Trial Competition
Second-year law students Razia Bath, Kris Chaney, Kai Ellsworth, and Karla Noyles won the Annual San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association Mock Trial Competition. The competition was hosted at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law on Oct. 29, 2022. This team was coached by Deets and Director of Bar Support Lindsay Harrington, ’03.
“This team showcased their strong advocacy skills, use of courtroom technology, and proficiency in California Rules of Evidence for this competition. They presented their cases with confidence and professionalism while demonstrating advanced trial advocacy skills, especially on both direct and cross-examination of expert witnesses,” Harrington said.
Ellsworth said participating in the mock trial program and on a competition team “was one of the best experiences I have had so far in law school.”
“It really gave us the opportunity to use so many of the skills we have been learning in the classroom and to show members of the legal community what McGeorge students can do,” Ellsworth said.
Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition
Third-year law students Abby Williams and Mark Marsenovic won Region 14 of the Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition on Feb. 4, 2023. They will represent McGeorge School of Law at the National Trial Competition Finals in Texas in March 2023. Watson, Weberg, and Pounders were also regional finalists. The team was coached by Ho and Hill.