Firm founder, Ben DuBose, loves coaching the Woodrow Wilson High School mock trial team. “I’ve been a Woodrow mock trial coach for eight years now and love it, “ says Ben. “Students learn critical thinking, public speaking, and persuasion – all skills that they can carry forward in their lives no matter what career they choose.” In addition to DuBose, the Woodrow team is very fortunate to have two other great coaches: Mike Buchannan and Darren Nicholson – both excellent Dallas area attorneys.
Each mock trial season begins in late September with the release of the case by the Texas High School Mock Trial Program. The case file is chock-full of stipulations, witness statements, a jury charge and exhibits. Over the next three months, the team spends long hours in practice sessions and scrimmages to prepare for competition.
Students competing as lawyers learn the rules of evidence, how to conduct witness examinations, as well as delivering opening statements and closing arguments. Witnesses learn public speaking skills while learning testimony from fact statements that often provide both helpful and damaging testimony. “Along the way,” DuBose says, “students also learn about the importance of the right to trial by jury and the rule of law.”
The competition alternates each year between civil and criminal cases. This year’s case involved a civil a breach of contract dispute between an art museum and its insurer over the theft of several world-renowned master pieces.
Out of over 150 schools in Texas that started the 2022 season, Woodrow Wilson High School reached the top 10 in Texas – finishing the season as the 9th highest ranked team at the state competition in Dallas!
The team this year also attended a mock jury selection session to gain an understanding of an important part of trial that is missing at competition: jury selection.
“Several students over the years have initially been very shy. Competing in mock trial gave them confidence,” says DuBose. “It’s great to see them overcome that shyness and really shine in the courtroom. By the end of each season, the team even outperforms some lawyers I’ve seen at the courthouse. I’ve now been coaching long enough that a few former students are starting to enter law school.”
All competition trials are held in actual courtrooms at the George Allen Courthouse in Dallas, Texas. Local Dallas attorneys volunteer as judges for the competition. The Texas High School Mock Trial competition is an outstanding program run by the Dallas Bar Association.