Pitzer Forms Mock Trial Team

Pitzer College announced the formation of a new Mock Trial team, the college’s first to be registered with the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). The team, spearheaded by Andrew Lydens PZ ’17, received Pitzer club approval this semester and will be competing in regional competitions held at Claremont McKenna College in February.

“I have always thought that I would pursue a career in law,” Lydens said. “I looked for a debate/law club that I would be able to join, and I heard about mock trial from my friends at Scripps.”

Unable to join the Scripps College team, Lydens tried to rally some support on his own campus. After hearing interest from students in a mock trial team at Pitzer, Lydens reached out to Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Carlisle “because of his extensive experience in the legal world.” 

Together, Lydens and Carlisle worked to draft the new club’s constitution and bylaws to become a member of AMTA.

Lydens will be the new club’s president. Although Pitzer doesn’t require that the club have a faculty adviser, Carlisle, who holds a law degree, will provide support and guidance for the team’s competitive debut. 

Carlisle explained his role as a resource for students interested in pursuing legal studies and providing opportunities for them to explore that possibility. 

“Being in mock trial provides a lot of opportunities beyond just understanding how a legal system works, “Carlisle said. “It helps with creating great skills in argument, it forces you to think about how you are going to respond to something that you have not yet heard … To me that’s just an exciting component of life skills and experiences.” 

Mock trial is not new to the 5Cs. Pitzer’s new team will join existing teams from Pomona College, Claremont McKenna and Scripps in the courtroom throughout the year. Pomona and Scripps started out as a collaborative team several years ago, but due to AMTA regulations, the colleges had to form separate organizations. Today, Pomona’s organization has three mock trial teams, Scripps has two, Claremont McKenna has three and Pitzer hopes to fill two or three. 

Last year, Pomona College Mock Trial’s A team placed seventh out of 28 schools in the regional tournament, earning them a spot at the national championships, where they placed for the first time. Scripps College also did well at regionals last year, placing eighth. 

“[Pitzer] is technically our competition,” said Gabe Bronshteyn PO ’16, president of Pomona Mock Trial. “There are really only advantages to them being so close, which is that there’s just another member of the 5C community that can participate in scrimmages … It’s really only good for everyone.”

Lydens is planning on scheduling friendly scrimmages with other mock trial teams on the 5Cs to give his team some courtroom experience before the February tournament. He also hopes the team can watch open practices held at other colleges in the Los Angeles area.

“We’re excited to see what everyone can do coming from very different backgrounds with experience in all things,” Lydens said. “We have people who have had four years of mock trial, to being completely new to it, but everyone’s really excited for the season.”  

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