Through the Iowa Mock Trial Program, participants get a hands-on opportunity to examine legal processes and current legal issues. In addition to providing familiarity with the law, mock trials also help students develop important critical-thinking skills and aid in the development of fundamental research, preparation and presentation skills.
To help prepare students for this activity, teachers call upon lawyers, judges, law students and other legal professionals to work with participants on the various aspects of preparing a case and conducting a trial. Many lawyers and judges serve as attorney-coaches and work alongside teachers on a regular basis to provide guidance and expertise.
Since 1983, the Iowa Mock Trial Program has given thousands of students the opportunity to get a close-up look at the judicial process. The Iowa program remains among the largest in the nation, and one of very few to offer the mock trial experience to middle school. In recent years, close to 3,500 students in grades 6-12 participated in mock trial competitions. Many hundreds more benefited from mock trials as an in-class activity. The Iowa Mock Trial Program offers a separate competition for students in grades 6-8 and 9-12.
Iowa Middle School Mock Trial
The Iowa Middle School Mock Trial Program is the largest in the nation. Each fall, students in grades 6-8 are presented with a challenging legal problem and set out to prepare and present both sides of the case to a panel of volunteer lawyers and judges.
Iowa High School Mock Trial
The Iowa High School Mock Trial program, which began in 1983, is an academic competition, open to students in grades 9-12. It presents a complex set of legal materials for students to grapple with as they prepare to present their arguments to panels of judges at regional and statewide tournaments.
National High School Program
Iowa was one of the founding members of the National High School Mock Trial Championship. Since 1985, high school mock trial state champions are eligible to compete in a national tournament. Each year, the championship is held in a different host city.