Students on Widener Law’s Delaware campus will spend Saturday, April 18 doing their part to boost diversity in the legal profession, by hosting a competition designed to spark an interest in the law among undergraduate students.
The “Diversity Pipeline Mock Trial Competition” will begin at 9 a.m. in various classrooms and conference rooms. Twenty eight undergraduate students from around the region have signed up to compete in the event, where they will act as attorneys and play out a criminal trial involving fictitious allegations of an undergraduate hazing that ends in the death of a student. Competitors come from a range of backgrounds, and many are of ethnicities which have been traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession.
The competitors will make opening statements, question witnesses and submit evidence and make closing arguments – all before a panel of law professors and area attorneys, who will judge their performances. Widener Law students will volunteer as bailiffs and as witnesses, to be questioned on the witness stand by competitors.
The school’s Student Bar Association
has organized the competition, which is drawing competitors from several schools including Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Temple University, Widener University and more. The program is being done in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division diversity initiative.
The competitors are not law students, but the competition allows them to “play” lawyer for a day, exposing them to the professional life of a trial attorney in the hopes it may inspire the undergraduates to consider careers in law. Prizes for the top competitors include Kaplan scholarships for LSAT prep courses.
The program is being run entirely by Widener Law students. Competitors are being paired in advance with Widener Law student volunteers who have agreed to act like mentors in preparation for Saturday’s event.
“Our short-term goal with this event is to give these students a hands-on experience with the law while they are still undergraduates. If this event plants a seed that leads them to pursue a legal career, then the profession benefits as well,” said law student Bill Newman, a member of the Student Bar Association who is organizing the competition.