Lessons From Ethics Trial Competition

Ethics CompetitionThis past March, I competed at the 8th Annual Pacific McGeorge National Ethics Competition in Sacramento, California with three of my fellow teammates of the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law’s Civil Mock Trial Team.  We competed with 18 teams from across the country. Our team won the competition, and I won top advocate for the final rounds.

What Is The National Ethics Trial Competition ?

The National Ethics Trial Competition was established in 2006 by the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.  The competition is unique in that it is the only law-school sponsored mock trial competition that includes ethical components in the substantive issues of the case as well as in the scoring of teams based on their ethics and civility.

The competition was held at the Robert T. Matsui U.S. Courthouse in Sacramento, California.  Many distinguished judges and attorneys served as judges, including Judge William Shubb, retired chief judge of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, who was the presiding judge of the final round.

This was Loyola’s first year participating in the competition.  For me personally, it was the first mock trial competition I participated in.  While preparing for the competition, I was enrolled in a professional responsibility course at Loyola University of Chicago.  I appreciated the competition’s focus on professionalism; I felt that I was able to directly apply what I was learning in class to developing my case.

The problem for the competition, Peters v. Denver, was a legal malpractice case.  The plaintiff, Paul Peters, claimed that the defendant, his former attorney DC Denver, provided Peter’s defense in a criminal trial under an impermissible conflict of interest.  In the criminal case, Denver represented Paul Peters along with a co-defendant.  Peters claimed that Denver’s representation in the criminal case led to Peter’s conviction and life sentence.  Denver argued that his representation of Peters was proper, and that all conflicts were fully and knowingly waived by Peters.

The teams presented motions in limine, opening statements, direct and cross examinations of lay and expert witnesses, closing arguments, and objections arguments.  During the competition, the teams were evaluated on persuasive advocacy skills, professional conduct, and knowledge of professional responsibility applicable to the case problem.

 Benefits Of Being Part Of The National Ethics Trail Competition

The competition helped me develop skills and knowledge that I know will be useful in my future practice.  For example, I learned, as in many difference aspects of life, that teamwork is essential to success. My teammates and coaches were always there to help each other improve, and to provide constant support in all aspects of competing. Additionally, I learned how to train myself to think quickly and fluidly in making and responding to objection arguments.

Equally as important, working on this problem taught me the significance of achieving and maintaining a reputable and competent law practice, and the severe consequences for failing to do so. Being able to apply my studies to the courtroom helped me create a more complete prospective for my future career in the legal profession.

When the competition was over, my team attended the final banquet, unsure of what to expect.  We faced excellent competitors in the final round; we felt the results could go either way.   When it was announced that we had won, my teammates and I were overjoyed.  After putting in hundreds of hours preparing our case, it was such a great honor and reward to walk away with a trophy.

 

 

This is the first in a series of posts by Law Student Liaisons to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. We collaborate with faculty, staff and students at each Illinois law school to ensure that our future lawyers are fully engaged in civility and professionalism. In support of that goal, each law school appoints a student to serve as liaison between the Commission and the school. The liaisons assist with program development, student outreach and writing. We hope you enjoy their posts.

Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison

Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison

Kathleen Murphy is the Loyola University Chicago School of Law student liaison to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2010, and worked for two years before entering law school. Katie is currently a law clerk at Gordon & Rees, LLP in Chicago.
Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison

Latest posts by Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison (see all)

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Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison

Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison

Kathleen Murphy is the Loyola University Chicago School of Law student liaison to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2010, and worked for two years before entering law school. Katie is currently a law clerk at Gordon & Rees, LLP in Chicago.
Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison

Latest posts by Kathleen Murphy, Law Student Liaison (see all)

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