After placing eigth at the Cornell Mock Trial Invitational and second at the Steel City Invitational, the University of Michigan’s Mock Trial team is taking its first steps toward the national crown, with a regional competition this weekend.

The tournament begins at Lewis University in Illinois next week, where the team will meet 22 other schools from around the Midwest. LSA junior Brian Yagi, one of the team’s three captains, said Loyola University Chicago has been their biggest regional competition in the past, but he said that he’s looking forward to Notre Dame as well.

“(Notre Dame) used to host Regionals, and Michigan would always go and finish right behind them,” Yagi said. “If we see them, we will probably destroy them.”

Besides those two teams, Yagi said he’s not really concerned by any other team in the regional.

During competition, Mock Trial participants perform the roles of attorneys and witnesses in simulated court cases and local judges and attorneys judge the tournaments.

According to Yagi, the team is currently ranked seventh in the nation. He said this is because the team is completely student-run. The team stopped having coaches six years ago.

“Sure, you have elected captains who take care of logistic stuff, but each member learns how to do mock trial well on his own,” Yagi said. “We’re able to directly teach all the skills in arguing, public speaking, and critical analysis to new members and keep building and learning through experience.”

Since switching to full student leadership, the team has experienced an upward trend in performance, according to Sarah Wilber, School of Music Theater & Dance senior and co-captain.

“(In Mock Trial) there are teams who have full coaching staffs, like legal assistants, attorneys (or) advisers from their law schools. So it’s really unusual to have a team like ours who performs so well without any of that,” Wilber said. “People in the mock trial community know that. They know who we are, and they respect our program just because we’re from Michigan.”

Yagi said he was confident that the team’s depth will allow it to be successful this year and beyond.

“It will be a really solid program for awhile. Some schools just have a really good A-team, but we have a good A-, B-, and C-team,” Yagi said. “Anyone who faces a team from Michigan knows that they’ll be in for a good round.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.