Trial Bar News –

For those aspiring to the legal profession, gaining real-world, hands-on experience is critical. According to experts, mock trials provide a realistic, interactive courtroom experience and give future legal professionals the know how and confidence they need to prepare for cases they might handle in the future.

CaseyGerry partner Thomas D. Penfield, also an adjunct professor at USD School of Law, uses mock trials for his students, and says they are the key to the learning process. “You don’t really learn evidence until you actually try to apply it,” he says. “Forcing them to take what they’ve heard and put it into practice makes a huge difference.” In addition to his work locally, Penfield will be performing a mock deposition for the Law Student section of the ABA-TIPS section at its summer convention in Chicago in July.

Other CaseyGerry attorneys are helping paving the path for budding legal professionals via mock trials and similar hands-on experiences. Partner Frederick Schenk, a former member of the UCLA intercollegiate debate team, recently coached the San Diego Jewish Academy’s debate team as part of the Moot Beit Din, a unique program that enables students from Jewish high schools to delve into issues of Jewish law and ethics through engagement with contemporary situations. The annual debate tournament took place in Florida – involving several dozen high schools from throughout the United States – and the Jewish Academy placed second. And at a recent American Association for Justice Convention, Schenk helped orchestrate a youth mock trial – for kids aged 6 to 17 – built around a fictitious fact scenario including pleadings, affidavits, exhibits, and other materials. Schenk wrote the scenario, and youngsters performed opening and closing statements, direct and cross examinations – and portrayed witnesses. In addition, Jessica Klarer Pride, an associate attorney at CaseyGerry, has coached members at Helix High School’s mock trial team, as well as participated as a judge in mock trials with USD law students.

Attorneys can help educate and engage students on many levels. Pride gives a talk to USD law students every year – entitled “Discovery in the Real World” – which addresses the importance of getting involved in the community. CaseyGerry partner Gayle M. Blatt has participated in an interviewing workshop for law students though through Lawyers Club San Diego – conducting mock interviews, then critiquing students.

Blatt has also hosted and presented to Russian law students, who were in San Diego to take a course on “U.S. Criminal Law and Procedure” at Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL). Following Blatt’s presentation on the American legal system, entitled “Civil Litigation Timeline,” the students toured the Casey Gerry offices – getting a first hand-glimpse at an American law firm in action.

According to TJSL law professor William Slomanson, “these students will now return to Moscow with both a keen sense of how things work in U.S. civil matters, and, what a vibrant law practice looks like from an insider’s perspective.”

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