Midtown Goes to Court

“I was very impressed with this forum. These students were better than a lot of attorneys I have seen in court,” David Elliot, attorney at law at Burr & Forman stated after seeing a mock trial featuring Midtown’s summer law apprenticeship students. Elliot and a group of attorneys from Discover visited the Midtown Center to meet with the students and implement the mock trial.

The Discover attorneys each introduced themselves to the students and described their education and career paths. They then divided the students into three groups: Defense, Prosecution, and Justices. These groups each studied Wardlow v. Illinois, an actual case involving the Fourth Amendment and police officers’ rights in search and seizure.

After analyzing the case, the group broke for lunch and heard from students about Midtown’s impact on their lives. Pedro, a junior at Walter Payton College Prep who has attended programming at Midtown since fourth grade, stated, “Midtown evolves to fit the needs you have as you grow. It focuses on character and academics to make you a better person…my Midtown teachers got me to the point where I am now.”

It was then time for the students to participate in the mock trial. The students debated with the Justices (which were comprised of two students and Discover lawyer David Curcio). The students utilized the debating skills, courtroom etiquette, and knowledge of the law that they have been studying in the Law Apprenticeship this summer.

The students and lawyers then listened to audio of the actual cases, and compared their mock trial to what happened in the actual trial. Discover attorney, Michael Gray, praised the students and pointed out how their logic and arguments mirrored those of the actual attorneys.

Afterwards, Elliot, an attorney from Birmingham, Alabama, spoke on what he looks for when hiring a lawyer, and what it takes to be a good lawyer and employee:

  • Work hard. Prove to yourself and your bosses that you are willing to work hard.
  • Be prepared. As with any walk of life, when you are prepared, you will be more able to handle the unexpected.
  • Be confident. Don’t be afraid to take charge of a matter and solve a problem. Working hard and being prepared lead to confidence.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask a question to figure out the answer before going out and trying to do it all yourself. This leads to dialogue to find the correct answer.
  • Bring ideas to the table. Whether they end up being right or wrong, new ideas make everyone think about the problem in different ways.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, admit it, acknowledge it, and move forward from there.
  • Be an expert in your field. Be up to date with trends so that you are ready for anything.
  • Don’t be a jerk. Blunt words, but his explanation rings true: “It’s okay to be aggressive to defend your clients’ interests, but don’t be a jerk. Do your job, and be a gentleman about it, and you’ll be a lot better off.”