Phillips Lytle LLP, a multidisciplinary law firm with offices throughout New York and Canada, has given $5,000 to support the American Mock Trial Association’s 2013 Great Lakes Regional Tournament to be hosted by SUNY Buffalo State on February 23 and 24.
This marks Buffalo State’s sixth year competing in the tournament and its third time hosting the regional event that attracts students from throughout the Northeast. Approximately 60 local attorneys, judges, professors, and law students volunteer their time to judge the trials to determine which teams get to compete at the next level—the Opening Round Regional Finals that will be held in Ohio in March.
“We’ve applied for grants in the past but have never received such a generous gift,” said Kelly Boos, assistant to the dean in the School of Natural and Social Sciences and tournament coordinator.
The Phillips Lytle gift will cover costs related to hosting the tournament, including meals, printed materials, and signage. It also will help defray travel costs for students if the Buffalo State team qualifies for the tournament in Ohio.
Kenneth Manning, a partner at Phillips Lytle, said the firm has a longtime supportive relationship with Buffalo State, which he describes as a “superb academic institution that also is very important to the community.”
A few of the firm’s attorneys also are serving as tournament judges this year.
“Many of the future leaders in our country, both in private business and the public sector, will be coming from this type of competition,” Manning said. “It gives them a better understanding of the judicial branch.”
During the two-day event, teams comprised of six students each will meet in the Classroom Building on campus to argue a fictional legal case. There will be two trial sessions each day in which teams alternate representing the plaintiff and the defendant.
“Participating in the mock trials is a good experience for students, even if they’re not intending to go to law school,” said Jon Lines, lecturer of political science and tournament director. Along with pre-law majors, many of the students are studying criminal justice and psychology, he said.
Students start preparing for the tournament at the beginning of the fall semester and meet at least twice a week to prepare.
“These are complicated cases,” Lines said. “Students have to get up on their feet and express themselves. Anything you do in life requires you to communicate and think.”