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Trial by Combat 2019

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  • Trial by Combat 2019

    I am excited to announce that the second Trial by Combat – the college mock trial one-on-one national championship -- will be June 21-23, 2019 in Philadelphia. Last year, Drexel’s Kline School of Law hosted the tournament. With my recent move to the UCLA School of Law, the two law schools have agreed to co-host the event moving forward. The 2020 tournament will be in Los Angeles.

    If you're interested in learning more about the tournament, there are three sources of information. First, I will be answering questions on this page. Feel free to post questions below or email me at, and I will post them here. I won't comment on why we chose one person over another, but I will generally answer anything else.

    Second, you can visit the trial advocacy websites for UCLA Law and Drexel Law. These include general information about the tournament and a link to apply (all students eligible to compete in 2019 AMTA regionals are eligible for Trial by Combat 2019). These websites will also list the names of confirmed students. We will announce the first set of confirmed students later this week.

    Finally, we will make tournament materials available in the Combat 2019 Google folder. Eventually this will include the tournament rules, schedule, and case. For now, we have published the survey responses from the inaugural class of competitors and coaches. The compilation includes what people enjoyed, suggestions for what we can do better, and our responses to the feedback. I think you'll find them informative.
    Last edited by Justin B.; December 10th, 2018, 07:36 PM.

  • #2
    When is the application deadline?


    • #3
      The first eight confirmed competitors are now listed on the schools' websites:


      • #4
        Thanks to everyone who emailed me questions about the tournament. I will answer a few questions below, and I'’ll answer the remainder next semester. [Note: in some cases, I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing/shortening the questions I received.]

        When is the application deadline?
        There is no deadline. But the competition is limited to 16 students, and once we'’re full, we'’re full.

        When are you sending the next batch of invitations / announcing the next batch of confirmed competitors?
        We have eight confirmed competitors, and we have invited a ninth. I do not anticipate extending additional invitations until after ORCS. This gives everyone a chance to develop their team/individual credentials. My guess is that we will invite a few students after ORCS and the finalize the field shortly after Nationals.

        When should I apply?
        If you apply before ORCS, we will either place you on our list of Finalists (which means we will ask you for an updated resume after ORCS) or let you know that you have not been selected. You can also apply after ORCS or even after Nationals, though, again, the field might be full if you wait too long. Bottom line: my advice is to apply whenever you like, but ideally by March 19, the Tuesday after the last ORCS.

        One of the questions on the application is if we want to know more about the trial programs at UCLA and Drexel. Is that a factor in who gets accepted to TBC?
        Short answer: Nope.

        Slightly longer answer: We want the best possible Trial by Combat field, period, and I think the students selected so far show that: last season, none of the 16 students were headed to Drexel or UCLA for law school, and none of the nine students invited so far have even applied to Drexel or UCLA (to my knowledge). So check the box if— -- and only if— -- you want to learn more about our trial programs.

        You do realize there are a lot more than 16 amazing competitors, right?
        We do. Yes, the field is extremely selective (16 students represents about 0.3% of all competitors nationwide). But we think that’'s a good thing. More importantly, a small field allows us to offer (and pay for) the amenities that make the tournament special: free food for the competitors throughout the weekend, apparel for the competitors, lots and lots of judges, etc. We don'’t charge a registration fee, and we want to keep it that way.

        Why do you only take one competitor per school?
        Two reasons. The first is logistical. If students from the same school can be in the same trial, it creates fairness problems -- —advantages if they'’re directing one another, potential gamesmanship if they'’re facing each other. If, however, we prohibit same-school-matchups in such a small field, it creates pairing problems. Either way, it’'s a problem. Second, it’'s more fun if 16 different schools are represented.

        Why did you reject [insert name of super-duper competitor]?
        I wouldn'’t assume that they applied -- —or that they were denied. We have several competitors who are Finalists for the remaining spots, including at least one who competed in Combat 2018 but happened to apply after we had eight acceptances.

        What was the most impressive thing you saw at the first Trial by Combat?
        Caveat: I didn'’t see a lot of the trials because I was running the tournament. I presided over the final round and one of the preliminary rounds (both times without a ballot), and I popped in and out of a few rounds along the way.

        I thought both finalists were outstanding throughout the championship trial. In terms of specific performances, I thought Ms. Kunkel’'s objections and Ms. Sommers’'s opening statement were particularly exceptional. Honorable mention to Mr. Seigenthaler’'s hair.
        Last edited by Justin B.; December 14th, 2018, 03:32 PM.