Trial Team and Moot Court Competitions

Trial Team

The University of Illinois College of Law’s Trial Team has supported student advocacy at the school for nearly two decades. Alumni of the Trial Team have gone on to become leading trial lawyers throughout the nation, as well as federal and state court judges. The mission of the trial team is to empower members to gain the required tools, skills, and knowledge to be “practice ready” as they embark on their legal careers. Trial team competitions teach students how to meet the practical challenges that lawyers typically face in a modern legal practice.

Trial Team with trophy from 15th National Ethics Trial Competition: Allison Heil, Madelyn Foster, Eliza Powers, and Mariana Renke

In addition to polishing their basic advocacy skills, team members learn how to analyze and master a case file, navigate a courtroom environment, discipline hostile or aggressive witnesses, and turn the laws of evidence into allies. Trial team members try at least one case during each semester of membership and, in doing so, they transfer knowledge gained in the classroom domain into firsthand practical experiences in the courtroom.

The team participates in 10 interscholastic tournaments each academic year at both the national and regional level. Trial team has a rich tradition of winning regional and national competitions and receiving national recognition for its advocacy and professionalism. Selection for trial team is competitive; The Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism annually chooses team members through a competitive try-out process where interested students must perform basic advocacy skills. Eligibility for the trial team requires the prerequisites or co-requisites of three College of Law courses: Trial Advocacy (694), Fundamentals of Trial Practice (695), and Evidence (682). Those who accept invitations to the team undergo rigorous training led by the Director of The Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism. They then undergo personalized and detailed coaching led by a practicing attorney, with periodic critiques from College of Law faculty, Illinois alumni, and additional seasoned practicing attorney volunteers.

Members earn academic credit each semester for participation on the team, attending training workshop sessions, and competition events. Moreover, members have exceptional opportunities at special Anderson Center events and advocacy tournaments to make valuable networking connections within the legal community with sitting judges, practicing attorneys, and peers from law schools across the country. Ultimately, team members gain knowledge, experience, and expertise in trial skills, oratorical skills, evidence, and teamwork—the very skills they need to excel in the legal profession.

Moot Court

Moot court is a mock appellate advocacy experience that helps College of Law students develop essential skills applicable to any area of legal practice, including strong writing and oral advocacy, critical thinking, the ability to think and react under pressure, and self-confidence to be successful advocates. Ultimately, moot court helps students learn to think like practicing attorneys and gain valuable, real-world skills that give graduates an advantage in competitive job markets.Kevin Cassato and Robert DeLaney at the inaugural Anderson Center Seventh Circuit Moot Court Competition

The College of Law offers a robust set of moot court competitions, allowing students to compete in internal and external competitions throughout their second and third years of study.

Moot Court Board members also compete in several external moot court competitions in both the fall and spring semesters. Moot Court Board members are selected via an audition process, which is open to all 2L and 3L students. Auditions are held during the fall semester. 

Those students selected for the Moot Court Board receive extensive and rigorous training from the faculty members who serve as the Moot Court Director and the Director of the Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism. They are then coached for each competition by both College of Law faculty members and seasoned practitioners. In preparation for competitions, College of Law faculty members, alumni, and leading appellate advocates regularly “moot” our students via practice arguments. Moot Court Board members compete in one competition per semester and receive academic credit each semester for participation on the Board.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism supports all competitive advocacy opportunities at the College of Law. The Anderson Center is committed to providing equitable educational opportunities that support people from diverse backgrounds. Now, more than ever, the legal profession requires advocates who represent populations that have historically been excluded from the courtroom. In selecting adjunct professors, advocacy coaches, and student competitors, The Anderson Center will also take active steps to ensure that no member of the advocacy program discriminates on the basis of age, ancestry, arrest record, color, conviction record, creed, disability, gender, marital status, national origin, parental status, political affiliation or belief, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or socioeconomic status. Instead, the Anderson Center will promote inclusion and equity for all participants, from selection to teaching to coaching to competing.