The University of Illinois Trial Team is an organization of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). Each year AMTA publishes a case, alternating between civil and criminal, that the team analyzes for the given season. The case is comprised of a series of witness affidavits and select pieces of evidence. The Illinois Trial Team prepares both sides of the case and travels throughout the country to compete against other colleges in a series of mock trial rounds. There are opening and closing statements, direct and cross-examinations, and witnesses to play. The performance of each member is scored throughout the round. To learn more about college mock trial visit: collegemocktrial.org
The purpose of the University of Illinois Trial Team is to provide an opportunity for students to acquire a command of trial advocacy, litigation and legal tactics, the American criminal justice system, and critical thinking skills through collegiate mock trial competitions.
The Illinois Trial Team
The University of Illinois Trial Team was established in 1989 by two U of I students. The program quickly became part of a nationwide movement of college mock trial. Several years later, the organization of over fifty students was consolidated and refined by U of I Professor Joseph Wenzel. Today, the Illinois Trial Team organization consists of four teams of six to ten members. These teams compete all over the country from California to Massachusetts against a wide variety of legalistic styles and schools.
For the first part of the competitive season, the organization breaks up into four teams. These teams are composed of an even number of experienced and inexperienced members, and all four teams have approximately the same skill level. This division provides an opportunity for all rookie members to learn rules, techniques and skills from trial veterans, as well as giving a chance for captains to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each member. In the second and longest part of the season, members will be “re-stacked” into four tiered teams: Blue, Orange, Silver, and Gold. The most competitive members will be placed on Blue, while members who need more experience will be placed on Orange and Silver. Gold is a lower-commitment team that provides members with an opportunity to develop new skills at a slower pace with more direct instruction. In the final part of the season, all four teams compete for bids to the regional and national tournaments. As some teams qualify and others do not, some members may be re-stacked again to send a full roster to these tournaments.
Joining the Team
If you are interested in law school, or you just want to boost your public speaking skills, mock trial is both a great way to prepare yourself to study law as well as a booster for law school applications. The critical thinking and public speaking skills gained from competing can benefit just about anyone.
Any undergraduate at the University of Illinois is eligible to try out for placement on the team, regardless of major or intention to attend law school. Tryouts for each season will be held in September. Information about tryouts and meeting dates will be released in August at Quad Day and on this website.
The tryouts themselves will be a brief, low-pressure demonstration of the candidate’s ability. The tryout process does not require any knowledge of legal proceedings or courtroom decorum. Rather, the tryout is meant to screen out candidates who can speak comfortably in front of a crowd and think on their feet.
If you have any questions about trying out for the Illinois Trial Team, please feel free to contact us by filling out the form on the “Contact” page.
High School Clinic
In the fall semester, the Illinois Trial Team hosts a clinic for high school teams to help them grow and sharpen their skills. The clinic consists of rotating workshops that will help teams develop their arguments and presentation, where students can ask questions and practice for their upcoming season. The clinic will last one day with a break for lunch, and students should leave feeling more confident in their own abilities to deliver a compelling case.
More information about dates and how to register for the clinic will be posted in the fall under the “News” page.
Executive Board 2020-2021
The Trial Team’s success begins with the dedication of our Executive Board. These members are always working behind the scenes to make sure that every event, tournament, and practice runs smoothly.
Meet the 2020-2021 Executive Board:
President: Zach Furlin
Hi! My name is Zach Furlin and I’m a senior studying history and secondary education. This will be my fourth year on the team and I’m really excited for another great season. After this year I plan on going to law school and becoming a real life lawyer instead of a pretend lawyer.
Vice President – Internal: Kai Jaeger
I’m Kai Jaeger, I’m entering my junior year and I’m majoring in International Business, Political Science, and German. What I do outside of school and mock trial varies as I tend to be into different things each month, whether that’s learning/practicing instruments, binge-watching a show, spending a week trying to learn a random subject, or intensively studying a Disney movie to fully understand its message.
Vice President- External: Charlotte Roberts
Hi, I’m Charlotte Roberts and I will be a junior at UIUC this fall. I am majoring in chemistry with plans to go into patent law one day. Besides being on the trial team, I enjoy being a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority on campus.
Secretary: Taiya Tkachuk
Hi! I’m Taiya Tkachuk, and I am a senior majoring in Communication and Political Science with a minor in Spanish. This will be my third year on the team, and probably my third time learning a new accent for a witness. Outside of the Trial Team, I am also a writer for the Green Observer, which is UIUC’s environmental magazine. In my free time I collect plants and watch spooky movies.
Treasurer: Jake Gulick
I’m Jake Gulick, and I am a sophomore studying Political Science and History with a minor in Arabic Studies. I am active in political groups on campus and enjoy reading and working as a barista in my free time.
Tournament Chair: Emma Roder
I’m Emma, and I am a rising junior at UIUC studying English and Creative Writing. This will be my third year on the team, and I’m pretty shocked it’s been that long! I started as a witness for Blue and have since taken on both attorney and witness roles. In my free time, I like cooking, playing sudoku, cooking, watching avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix, and cooking. This year I am very excited to plan our school’s tournament and captain an invitational team with Marlena!
Social Chair: Michael Domasik
I’m Michael Domasik, and I am a senior double majoring in Political Science and Psychology with a minor in Criminology, Law, and Society. I am also involved in Phi Kappa Psi and the Kappa Alpha Pi Pre Law Fraternity. I will be interning at the office of volunteer programs at UIUC during the 2020-2021 school year.