Mock Trial

“Law is not justice and a trial is not a scientific inquiry into the truth. A trial is the resolution of a dispute.” -Edison Haines

If you’re passionate about justice, there’s perhaps no more direct way to engage with the moral and ethical challenges of our time than entering the courtroom. Chicago’s storied history has no lack of those compelling challenges, from Clarence Darrow to Elliot Ness, and the Untouchables. Plus, Al Capone, the Chicago Black Sox, the Chicago Eight, and the Haymarket Trials, make the Windy City an ideal historical backdrop to draw on. You’ll visit Chicago’s trial courts and explore the American justice system from the inside. In class, be prepared for any number of complex legal situations that could arise, imagine: unable to come to a settlement, you and your team are now going to trial. Your first steps are to familiarize yourself with the facts and develop the theme and theory of the case. Then, you’ll prepare for the trial. Sort through the evidence to see what you can get in and what you might keep out. Hone lines of questioning and prep your witnesses. Sharpen your cross-examination skills both by preparing effective objections and rehearsing what to do in the event that a witness becomes hostile. Draft compelling opening and closing arguments under the mentorship of judges and practicing attorneys.

All students will be required to bring a laptop.

Who Should Take This Course?

Whether you love to argue the facts or prefer to spar during cross examination, this is the perfect course for students who want to practice their public speaking and problem-solving skills. Gain confidence in presenting arguments in an interactive and fast-paced way by jumping into the world of litigation, criminal justice, and civil procedure. No previous Mock Trial experience required.

Advisors + Past Speakers

  • Hon. Richard Gabriel, Justice, Colorado Supreme Court
  • Michael Dorf, Professor of Law, Cornell University
  • James Forman, Jr., Professor, Yale Law School
  • Fred Lawrence, Phi Beta Kappa CEO + Civil Rights Scholar
  • Lincoln Caplan, Lecturer + Research Scholar, Yale Law School
  • Catherine Peña Gonzalez, Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Timothy L. Epstein, Partner and Managing Director of Litigation, Duggan Bertsch

Plan your summer


Course Highlights

  • Case Strategy + Preparation

    Create a unique theory of the case and learn principles of litigation and effective trial advocacy. Receive feedback on your arguments and coaching in trial strategy and etiquette from trial coaches, who may be attorneys, law professors, or judges.

  • Visit a Courtroom

    Watch a judicial proceeding in process in a Chicago court and analyze the techniques and choices of practicing attorneys and judges in a post-court debrief.

  • Evidence + Procedure

    Practice the rules of civil or criminal procedures, such as introducing evidence, questioning a witness, and admitting exhibits into the court record.

  • The Trial

    After weeks of preparation, put on your suit and make your case in a Chicago courtroom.

The best part about Mock Trial was learning to solve a problem by listening to other people and hearing their perspectives, which I think is important because I believe in justice. I also enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of the courtroom.

Advisors + Past Speakers

Hon. Richard Gabriel

Justice, Colorado Supreme Court

Justice Richard Gabriel has served on the Supreme Court of Colorado since 2015 and served as a judge on the Colorado Court of Appeals beginning in 2008. A 1987 graduate of University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Gabriel spent 20 years in private legal practice before being appointed to the bench. During that time, his practice focused on commercial law, intellectual property law, probate, and products liability litigation.

Michael Dorf

Professor of Law, Cornell University

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University. Michael has authored numerous journal articles and books and was co-editor of the casebook and related materials Constitutional Law (West, 2015 and yearly updates). Michael holds an A.B. and a J.D. from Harvard University. He served as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States, and maintains an active pro bono practice. Before joining the Cornell faculty, Mike taught at Rutgers-Camden Law School for three years and at Columbia Law School for thirteen years. His popular writing appears regularly in Newsweek, Verdict, and on his blog, Dorf on Law.

James Forman, Jr.

Professor, Yale Law School

James Forman, Jr. is a professor of law at Yale Law School where he teaches Constitutional Law and legal seminars on race and criminal procedure. He is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America. Forman is a legal scholar in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. At Yale Law School, his criminal justice students study alongside men incarcerated in a Connecticut prison.

Fred Lawrence

Phi Beta Kappa CEO + Civil Rights Scholar

Fred Lawrence is a renowned scholar, teacher and attorney. He currently serves as the 10th Secretary and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. Lawrence has a distinguished career in higher education, where he has served as President of Brandeis University and Dean of the George Washington University Law School. He is the author of Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law, which is an exploration of bias-motivated violence and its treatment in United States courts.

Lincoln Caplan

Lecturer + Research Scholar, Yale Law School

Lincoln Caplan is a well-known author and journalist currently serving as Yale Law School’s Truman Capote Visiting Lecturer In Law. Caplan is the author of several books on the law, including American Justice 2016: the Political Supreme Court. Also, a staff writer for The New Yorker, Caplan is a regular contributor to American Scholar and Harvard Magazine. Caplan is a graduate of both Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

Catherine Peña Gonzalez

Criminal Defense Attorney

Catherine Peña Gonzalez is a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice of Brooklyn Defender Services, a public defender organization representing clients that cannot afford an attorney. Gonzalez was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to New York City when she was nine years old. A graduate of New York University and Pace University School of Law, Gonzalez spent many years advocating for those in underserved communities – even prior to becoming a lawyer.

Timothy L. Epstein

Partner and Managing Director of Litigation, Duggan Bertsch

Timothy Liam Epstein, Esq. is a partner at Duggan Bertsch, LLC, in Chicago, where he manages the firm’s litigation practice and chairs the Sports and Entertainment industry practice groups, and teaches courses in Sports and Entertainment Law at Loyola University School of Law as a member of the adjunct faculty. He has served as a member of an Advisory Council at the Fetzer Institute, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Legal Task Force, and a Selection Committee for the Tillman Military Scholars program.