To see the future of trial law, look no farther than next week at Baylor Law School. That's because the best 18 student trial advocates in the country will descend on the law school from June 1-5 to take part in the National Top Gun Mock Trial Competition.
Now in its second year, the National Top Gun is limited to 18 law schools and is unlike any other mock trial competition in the nation. A single student will represent each school, instead of the usual two; participants will not receive the details of the mock case they will argue until a mere 24 hours before the competition begins; and the winner will be awarded $10,000. Baylor, as the organizing institution, will not field a team.
The competition is sponsored by the law firm Naman Howell Smith and Lee, PLLC, which has offices in the Texas cities of Austin, Fort Worth, Harker Heights, Temple and Waco. Organizers say the event was designed to provide a venue for schools with strong trial advocacy programs to go head-to-head with one another.
"This competition reflects the realities of trial practice. No second place. Winner take all," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "Thanks to the generosity and competition sponsorship of our decades-long friend of the Law School -- Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee -- we are able to make the Top Gun 'trophy' a cool $10,000 to the winner."
The competition will kick off June 1 when competitors attend orientation and a welcome dinner. At 7 a.m. Thursday, June 2, they will receive the case file. The students also will assist in taking a deposition of a witness in preparation for trial; review existing depositions, records, and photographs; and take a tour to the actual places where events in the case supposedly occurred. Shortly before each round, competitors are assigned a witness or witnesses who may be used at their discretion during the trial. The problem has been written by Professors Gerald Powell and Jeremy Counseller and Practice Court Assistant Will King.
The preliminary rounds will begin Friday morning at 10 a.m. Rounds also will be held at 2 p.m. Friday and at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The semifinals will be held Sunday, June 5, at 9 a.m. with the finals taking place at 2 p.m. and will be streamed live at http://www.baylor.edu/law/live. All competitors will participate in at least four rounds with the top four competitors after those rounds advancing to the semifinal rounds. New information will be presented Saturday night before the semifinals on Sunday.
The 18 participating law schools are, like Baylor, known for their trial advocacy programs. In March, Baylor Law's trial advocacy program moved up to third in the nation in U.S.News and World Report's 2012 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools."
Schools participating in the Top Gun are Akron University Law School, Barry University School of Law, Chicago-Kent School of Law, Denver School of Law, Duquesne University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, Northern Kentucky University College of Law, Northwestern University School of Law, Samford University - Cumberland School of Law, South Texas College of Law, Stetson University College of Law
Suffolk University Law School, Temple University School of Law, University of South Carolina School of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Washington University School of Law and Yale Law School.
Last year, Jeffrey Goodman from Temple University's Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia was named the Top Gun.
The competition will be held in Baylor's Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center. Spectators are advised that seating is limited. For more information, contact Kathy Serr, advocacy program coordinator, at Kathy_Serr@baylor.edu .