Berkeley National Flash Trial Competition



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Berkeley’s inaugural National Flash Trial Competition is on September 9-11, 2022, where top law school trial advocates will go head to head in a series of rounds, each with a unique case problem. The catch? Advocates will not prepare for the cases ahead of time. Instead all teams will be given the problem shortly before the round and quickly develop a theory and examination materials for the case. Mistakes will be made and this one of a kind tournament will push law students’ abilities to think on their feet and adapt each round.



Thank you to our Sponsors!

Walkup, Melodia, Kelly + Schoenberger

Venable LLP


Berkeley Law 


Congratulations to our 2022 National Flash Trial Competition champions, UCLA Law!

Finalists: Drexel University Kline School of Law

Semi-Finalists: Baylor Law School and University of Denver Sturm College of Law

A huge thank you to every single competitor, coach, judge, witness, sponsor, and spectator who made the inaugural National Flash Trial Competition a success!

Email from Spencer Pahlke on Sunday, September 11, 2022

Hi Everyone,

After 4 preliminary rounds at the first-ever Berkeley National Flash Trial Competition, the following teams advanced: UCLA, Baylor, Drexel Kline, and the University of Denver.

The teams got the semi-final case packet just under an hour ago, and the trial will start at 10:45am Pacific.

Finals will be at 2:45pm Pacific.

If you’d like to watch either semi-finals or finals, this sheet has the Zoom links.  Of course, please turn off audio and video.


Spencer, Jenna, Nick, Jordan & Derin

Email from Spencer Pahlke on Friday, September 9, 2022

Hi Everyone!

Great work today!

All of the important materials for the competition are on the front page of the website for the competition, and also at this link.  There you’ll find the ballots from today, a summary of the ballots, and other fun things.

Hope you have a great dinner and a good night’s sleep, we’ll see you tomorrow!  Doors open at 9:00am.


Spencer, Jenna, Nick, Derin and Jordan

Email from Spencer Pahlke on Thursday, September 8, 2022

Hi Everyone!

It was wonderful seeing you all today, both in our JAMS tour and at Pecos.

A few notes for tomorrow:

  • Room Assignments.  You’ll find them in this sheet, which is part of this central folder—the location where you’ll find all kinds of important things, ranging from the problems when they drop to matchups to ballots and results.
  • Sample Ballots.  In that same central folder, you’ll find exemplar ballots for 2v2 and 1v1 rounds.
  • Coaching.  To clarify, coaches can be completely involved up until the end of the preparation period.  Once the meet and confer period starts, there can be no more coaching.
  • JAMS Staff. We got word from our main contact at JAMS that they had a few exchanges regarding the Clear app that left them feeling less than wonderful.  Just a gentle reminder that JAMS is making this competition possible, and just like any person we encounter in life—especially including clerks and bailiffs in courtroom, an analog to our JAMS staff—it serves us well to be our best selves at all times.  And it serves Berkeley well too, we want JAMS to invite us back!

Good luck everyone, we’re excited to see you tomorrow!

Spencer, Jenna, Nick, Derin & Jordan

Email from Spencer Pahlke on Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Hi Everyone!

We are very excited to see you by Zoom tomorrow at 5pm Pacific, and then in person Thursday afternoon.

A few notes.

First, we’ll shortly be sending the calendar invite for the Coaches’ and Competitors’ meeting.  It is tomorrow at 5pm Pacific. Please check your email for the link. Competitors are of course not required to attend, but they often feel left out of coaches meetings, and we don’t want that to happen.  So they are invited—if you’d like your students to attend, please forward this to them.

Second, we received two questions that we should answer for everyone:

  • Printing / Tech.  JAMS has printers onsite that you can use in multiple ways, ranging from emailing a print request directly to a central printer, to connecting to that printer directly, to asking JAMS to print things for you.  So you’re good to go.
  • Time Limits.  The most current version of the rules is the version currently online.  It makes clear that there is 45 minutes of prep time for 1 v. 1 trials, and 60 minutes prep time for 2 v. 2 trials.

Third, we thought it would be helpful to outline major differences between flash trials and regular trial competitions.  While you should of course read the rules, this will hopefully highlight the differences:

  • Obviously, the flash trial format: Teams will have 45 minutes with the case to prepare for 1 v. 1 rounds and 60 minutes with the case to prepare for 2 v. 2 rounds.  Rule III.C.
  • 2 v. 2 and 1 v. 1 rounds: Half of the preliminary rounds (Rounds 1 and 4) will be 2 v. 2; half of the preliminary rounds (Rounds 2 and 3) will be 1 v. 1, with each advocate acting as first chair for one round.  For more explanation, see Rules I.E-K.
  • Witness prep time: Unlike in other competitions with live witnesses, teams are not limited to 15 minutes to prepare their witnesses.  Instead, teams can prepare their witnesses for as much or as little of their prep period (45 minutes in 1 v. 1 rounds and 60 minutes in 2 v. 2 rounds) as they like.  Coaches may also participate in witness prep.  Witnesses, however, cannot assist teams with theory or strategy.  Rules III.A.3-7.
  • Meet-and-confer: It is mandatory for teams to meet and confer in the 15 minutes after the prep period and before the trial begins.  Teams must disclose any prepared demonstratives and may discuss stipulations or motions in limine.  But at the conclusion of the meet-and-confer period, teams must be ready to represent to the judge that both sides are ready to proceed to trial without undue delay; i.e., that teams have ensured that any motions or other issues that teams intend to raise pre-trial are actually in dispute.  Rule III.B.2.
  • Motions in limine: Teams are limited to one motion in limine per trial.  Rule III.B.5.
  • Trial time limits: In 1 v. 1 rounds, all of a team’s scored pieces must be no more than 30 minutes.  In 2 v. 2 rounds, all of a team’s scored pieces must be no more than 45 minutes.  Rules III.C.2-3.  If a team runs out of time but has a piece (or more) remaining, they will get 1 minute for each remaining piece; there is no discretion to add more time.  Rule III.C.4.
  • Recross examination: The rules do not limit the number of redirect and recross examinations permitted, but each succeeding examination is limited to the scope of the one that preceded it.  Rule III.D.1.
  • Mid-trial motions: Mid-trial dispositive motions, such as motions for a directed verdict, JMOLs, or judgements of acquittal are not permitted.  Rule III.D.5.
  • Breaks: Because the rounds are shorter than other competitions, breaks customarily will not be allowed except in cases of emergency.  Rule III.D.6.
  • Reasonable inference rule: On direct examination witnesses are permitted to testify to facts that are reasonable inferences from their materials, and on cross examination witnesses can invent facts if the cross examiner’s question calls for such an invention.  Rule III.E.
  • Demonstratives: Are allowed in physical or electronic form (via Zoom screen-share).  If they are created at any time prior to when they are used, they must be disclosed to the opposing team before they are used.  Rule III.F.

See you tomorrow!

Spencer, Nick, Jenna, Derin & Jordan

Email from Spencer Pahlke on Monday, August 1, 2022

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are doing well!

Attached here, you will find a practice problem and the rules.  Note that time constraints for preparation are in Rule III.A.2.  The practice problem, for example, is a 2-on-2 problem and therefore has a 60-minute preparation period.

Also, please let us know if any of have any ongoing issues with the room block at the Meridien, we have been working with them now and hope things are squared away.

Last, thank you very much for filling out our coach / competitor form.  We know you may not have all the answers yet to fill it out, but when you do, please fill it out.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon!


Spencer, Nick, Jordan, Derin, and Jenna