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Drake Mock Trial goes to Nationals

The Mock Trial A-Team will be going to nationals. They are the first Drake team in nine years to go to this selective competition. Photo courtesy of Grace Brinker

For the first time in nine years, the Drake undergraduate Mock Trial team will compete at the national tournament after just barely missing qualifying for it last year.

“This sounds really cliche, but it is a dream come true. I’ve been doing Mock Trial since I was a freshman in high school,” said junior Grace Brinker. “I’ve never gone to Nationals before, so it’s definitely been like a dream in the making.”

Brinker and junior Aubrey Williams are co-captains of Mock Trial’s A Team — made up of exclusively juniors this year, a rarity for the student organization — that will be representing Drake at the national tournament in Chicago April 19-22. In Mock Trial, students with and without legal ambitions prepare legal cases and present them to professional lawyers and judges. Some members are then inspired to attend law school because of their experience.

The opportunity to compete at nationals is rewarding because Drake Mock Trial is student-led. In their roles as captains, Williams said they have led through collaboration.

“It’s more of Grace [Brinker] and I’s job to keep that collaborative effort going strong throughout the season and making sure that everyone can get their input in,” Williams said. “The more ideas that we can have fleshed out beforehand from a bunch of different members of our team, the better prepared we’re going to be going into the competition.”

They prepared the case that qualified them for nationals since they received it in September. They faced unique challenges such as two members studying abroad last semester and other members studying abroad during J-Term. 

“It was a lot of coordination between getting everyone caught up to speed and prepped for a tournament that was taking place the third weekend of January,” Williams said.

Brinker said they would not have been prepared the way that they are if not for the enthusiasm of the team. She said that members kept up with the case while studying abroad, and their on-campus teammates informed them about fall tournament feedback.

“It really showed our ability to work together as a team,” Brinker said.

The A-Team is preparing a completely new case for nationals. They missed qualifying for nationals last year at the Opening Round Championship Series by a few points, so the team is excited for the opportunity.

“[ORCS] was in the same place. We were hitting a lot of the same teams, and so it’s like a redemption arc,” Brinker said.

Williams said the opportunity to compete at Nationals is really fulfilling for her and Brinker, who have been part of Drake’s Mock Trial A-Team since their first year on campus. They are proud to have accomplished this feat as co-captains.

“This has always been our goal for the program. So it’s so satisfying to just see that come into fruition, especially with the two of us captaining the team together,” Williams said.

Mock Trial is attending the national competition despite cuts to their student organization budget last fall. Brinker said it’s intimidating to go up against larger programs with more funding.

“It can be a little bit daunting to compete against other teams who have 10 different coaches and the money for elaborate demos,” Brinker said. “To keep up with the best of the best, there are certain resources that you do just have to have.”

Williams said the fact that the budget cuts came after their best performance in several years felt like a “slap in the face.”

“It’s showing how good our program is and our numbers are at being adaptable and still making it work based on what we’re given,” Williams said.

Brinker and Williams believe that Mock Trial is performing better than they have in almost a decade and hope that their success is recognized by the Drake community.

“I’m so proud of this school. I’m so proud of our program. I think it’s so exciting to get the Bulldogs back on the national stage,” Brinker said.

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