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March 29, 2019
UK Law students competed in the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition in Chicago last month with a team of four 2L students and a team of four 3L students.  The 3L team progressed to the semi-final round and finished in 4th place out of 16 teams, making them alternates for nationals. The 2L team progressed to the quarter final round, finishing in the top 8.

The 2L team included Chynna Hibbets, Jordan Jennings, Olivia Pinkelton and Paul Sime, and the 3L team consisted of Jalyn Hewitt, Cailyn Butler, Jason Hernandez and Sabrina Castille, all members of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA).  The competition was held in conjunction with the 2019 Midwest Black Law Student Association Regional Convention.

“This is a great way to gain real-world experience before entering into the practice of law,” said Hibbits. “Mock trial provides an opportunity to practice public speaking and understand legal issues from multiple angles. Having such a complex case, we were able to collaborate and see how each of us thought about the case.”

The Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition, one of six regional competitions hosted by the National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA), is one of the largest and most respected law school mock trial competitions in the country and aims to develop legal advocate skills.  Competitors learn to develop a case from its inception to conclusion in the form of a trial.  The competition includes rounds that simulate a civil trial proceeding where each team offers opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses, and closing arguments. Participants can develop strong courtroom skills and argue issues that are at the forefront of debate in the legal profession.

“Being a participant on mock trial allows us to experience real-world application and gain skills that apply to litigation,” said Jennings.  “It’s one thing to write something for an exam and another thing to work with language and problem solving as it applies to consumption by a jury.”

“Each student at UK Law receives our best to help them reach their own personal best,” said David A. Brennen, Dean of UK Law.  “Through participation in programs like the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition we empower students to gain practical skills that will strengthen their legal education.”

“I am currently taking an evidence class and the applicability from the competition to class has helped me tremendously,” said Hibbits.  “I learn by doing, and by being able to practice while learning the different objections and exceptions that I would be using is beneficial. I want to have a career in litigation, so for me doing mock trial was an excellent opportunity. Being in the courtroom is second nature for me, and I can’t wait until I get to do it for the rest of my life.”

The UK Law students were coached by Daniel Whitley, a local practitioner, and Amanda Parker, an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney in Fayette County.  Students and coaches spent many hours practicing during the three months leading to the competition. "We keep improving every year and everyone noted the growth of this year's teams. Most of the coaches and judges took their time to compliment UK Law students," said Whitley.

“The best part of this experience was being able to work with two amazing practitioners and guest judges who took their time to teach us practical skills, said Hibbitts.  “They invested so much time in us and it has been great to learn from them. Learning practical skills that we will utilize, and the importance of courtroom decorum and demeanor was so beneficial.”