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UM Students Headed to National Mock Trial Competition

March 05, 2010
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Mock Trial team

  Mock Trial team member from left to right: Josh Kornfield, Page Little,
  Will Godar, Marie Tranakas, Zach Gonzalez, Elana Reman and Haley

The University of Miami’s mock trial team, which includes two business students, is heading to the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament.

Team members included  senior Page Little; juniors  Marie Tranakas and Haley  Kornfield; sophomores Josh  Kornfield, Will Godar, Zach Gonzalez and Elana Reman;  and freshman Nicole Chessin.  Tranakas and Chessin are students at the School of Business, and Gonzalez has a minor in the School. The team advanced to the finals after competing in the Orlando Regional competition in February, where Gonzalez was also recognized as an outstanding individual.

The advancement comes on the heels of two mock trial competitions held at the School of Business. This past  fall, some 350 competitors,  coaches, spectators and volunteer  attorneys participated in  the first Hurricane Invitational  mock trial competition,  organized by Don Donelson,  business law lecturer and  team advisor, who also serves  on two board committees of  the American Mock Trial Association.  Teams from around the South participated, and more than 70 attorneys from around South Florida volunteered as judges.

In January, the School hosted another competition, this one with 12 universities from around the U.S., some from as far away as California.  All had finished among the top 15 teams in the nation last year. Around 100 students competed, with more than 120 attorneys from around the U.S. judging.

Organizing competitions of this magnitude helps enhance UM’s and the School’s reputation with other colleges and in the community, Donelson said. “Hosting events such as these raises our profile among national universities, as it shows our commitment to academic endeavors,” he explains. “In addition to the schools that attended, with so many attorneys attending as volunteer judges, the event helps our perception among the South Florida legal community.”

Although UM did not place  first in either event held at  the School, Kristin Gibson,  one of the team members,  from the fall event, said  participating was about more  than just winning. “The most valuable part of the competition for me was the feedback from the judges,” she said.  “They give really great advice on what occurs during the trial, and seeing that they are all lawyers and some are actual practicing attorneys, the advice is really valuable.”

The opening rounds of the national championships take place in Greenville, S.C., in March.

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