Bringing the courtroom to college

W&L’s Mock Trial team achieves success in recent Colonial Classic tournament


Mock Trial executive board members Sonia Brozak, ’17, and Emily Webb, ’17. Photo courtesy of the Mock Trial Facebook page.

Faith Isbell

In the world of mock trial, partaking in the legal system does not require a law degree.

On Oct. 17-18, Washington and Lee’s Mock Trial team competed in the Colonial Classic, a mock trial tournament at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. The team is already off to a strong start—placing “three for three” in its tournaments this school year.

At the Colonial Classic, the “Bob” Team was awarded first place, and the “George” Team was awarded fifth place. Individually, President Avery Field, ‘17, won an attorney award on the prosecution, Internal Vice President Emily Webb, ‘17, won an attorney award on the defense, and Taylor Galdi, ‘19, won a witness award for prosecution.

This year’s mock trial team consists of 17 members and is coached by W&L Law Professor Elizabeth Belmont. Of the 17 members, two are first-year students.

“It was a little overwhelming to be one of the only two freshmen on the team,” Taylor Galdi, ‘19, said. “Everyone has been very accommodating and quickly got me up to speed.”

Although a first-year, Galdi is no stranger to mock trial. Galdi participated in mock trial in high school and decided to pursue the interest in college.

“I plan on going to law school, and mock trial is a really good way to acquaint yourself with trial procedures,” Galdi said.

In the beginning of the school year, the team practiced almost every night a week. Now that the first two tournaments are over, Webb said that practices will return to three times a week with each practice lasting about three hours.

“Spending so much time with people through practice and traveling really bonds you together,” Galdi said.

This is Webb’s third year on the W&L Mock Trial team and she said she is already impressed by the work ethic and dedication of this year’s team. Despite the “crazy” beginning of the year, Webb said that the team has stepped up to the challenge.

“So far, the team is doing better than the [W&L Mock Trial] program has in years,” Webb said. “If all of our members continue to work this hard, we will have a really exceptional team.”

Even in her three years on the team, Webb recognizes that it is a big commitment to be a part of mock trial. In addition to the practices and the tournaments, the team members must dedicate extra time outside of practices to learn and prepare the material.

“[Mock trial] is definitely a challenge, especially when we have tournaments,” Webb said. “You essentially can’t do any work over the weekend, and you have to have everything done ahead of time.”

Nonetheless, both Galdi and Webb said they feel that the time and the hard work pays off.

“It’s really just a big family,” Webb said. “The support system is like no other.”

“It’s really rewarding to watch your hard work play out during a trial,” Galdi said.

W&L’s team is part of the American Mock Trial Association, which has approximately 600 teams from over 350 institutions that compete against each other.

The “George” Team will compete in a total of four tournaments, including the invitational and the “Bob” Team will compete in a total of three tournaments. Regionals take place in February. Ultimately, the W&L Mock Trial team hopes to make it to Nationals in April.