Anna Lyons ’18

Hometown: Des Moines, IA
Education: Tufts University 2015
Affiliations: Board of Advocates, Berkeley Law Women’s Association, Queer Caucus, Berkeley Business Law Journal

Mock trial was a big reason why I came to law school. I started in junior high and continued all through college. At some point it seemed like I had been pretending to be a lawyer for so long, maybe I should try the real thing.

But after ten years of mock trial, I was ready for a change in law school. I chose moot court instead and now I’m one of the directors for our program at Berkeley Law. But I missed mock trial. Moot court involves briefing an issue on appeal and then delivering an oral argument and sparring with a panel of judges. Mock trial teams put on a whole trial, from opening statements through directing and crossing witnesses to closing arguments. Mock trial is much more of a show – it’s legal theatre.

When I learned about the Center for Youth Development through Law (CDYL) program it seemed like a great way to return to the activity and help underprivileged youth.

CYDL brings attorney coaches to six diverse and disadvantaged high schools in Contra Costa County to help these schools compete at the county competition.

I worked with a team of high-schoolers from Hercules High School. Our team brought together kids from all grade levels. Some had participated in mock trial before and others had never had any exposure to mock trial or the legal system in general.

The progress we made over the course of the season was phenomenal! Some students went from having no idea how a trial worked or what a direct examination was to arguing hearsay objections like pros. We worked on other skills they’ll be able to continue to develop after the mock trial season too. Things like public speaking, working as a team, and how to present yourself with confidence are not only foundational for mock trial but also important life skills.

It was also great to see our team bond and grow together as friends. Mock trial brought together kids that otherwise would’ve never crossed paths and gave them a common goal to work toward. Being accountable to each other kept everyone motivated and brought them closer as a team. I’m incredibly proud of our team’s performance and all of the hard work we put in over the course of the season. Even though many of these kids won’t go to law school or have any other involvement in a legal field, they’ll be able to carry these skills and friendships forward – the real reward of participating in mock trial.