Mock Trial Tries Regionals

From practicing their trial skills to expanding their understanding of the law, the Phoenix Mock Trial chapter has been working hard all year. They were finally given the opportunity to test their knowledge against other high schools on Feb. 11: Regionals.


Manika Porchezhian

Ever since their official start in August 2022, the Phoenix Mock Trial chapter has been practicing their attorney and witness skills through lessons from actual lawyers, legal jargon, and, of course, mock trials.

For the past two decades, the Virginia Law-Related Education Institute’s Virginia High School Mock Trial Program has been educating high schoolers on the American legal system by allowing them to experience law as attorneys and witnesses. Throughout the school year, participating high schools across the state work on civil and criminal cases before ultimately partaking in regionals in the spring. Following that event, there are states and then nationals, where the state winner represents Virginia and Washington D.C. at the National High School Mock Trial Championship. s Rock Ridge’s Mock Trial club has been preparing for the 2023 regional competition on Feb. 11.

The Phoenix Mock Trial chapter unofficially began in May 2022, when three then-juniors—Greeshma Yadlapalli, Jahnavi Haryani, and Ananya Cheela—realized that their school didn’t have any law-related classes or clubs. They wanted a space for students to learn about how case proceedings actually work. “For our specific career it’s hard to get in court and actually see what it’s like because, of course, confidentiality and all that,” Haryani said. “[Mock Trial] gives you a great view of how everything goes and it can help you further [consider] if you really want to do this in your life.”

The group researched possible law competitions and came up with the idea to form a club of their own, quickly finding sponsors in history teachers Josh Dobbs and Steven Mobley. The group worked hard over the summer and were able to officially form the club in August 2022, with seniors Yadlapalli and Cheela serving as co-presidents who completed the appropriate paperwork, advertised the club at the club fair, and ultimately interviewed possible club members. With an official group of nine members, the club registered for Mock Trial Regionals, and planned to participate in the event for the first time. 

Preparing For Regionals

Since a lot of work goes into an actual case, such as information that attorneys and witnesses must memorize for one case as well as the law behind it, Mock Trial only deals with one case all year. In fact, the practice done at school is very similar to what they will do at regionals. “Every meeting we sit down with the case and try to figure out what we’re trying to do and figure out how, if you’re an attorney, you try to figure out how to make your argument and, if you’re a witness, you try to [tap] into your acting skills and memorize your statements,”  Yadlapalli said.

As part of their prep, the group held a total of three mock trials of the case they were going to present at regionals. Throughout it all, the team was connected to a consultant, Sarah Frey, by the competition organization to help teach them the law and guide them through the process of mock trials. Frey was not only a judge at one of their practice trials, but also she was essentially a lawyer coach for the group. “It was really cool, she gave us a lot of tips and feedback that we were able to use during an actual trial,” Cheela said. “She [also] gave us lots of insight on how lawyers have to behave or [what they] have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.” 

Frey supported the group by not only sharing the knowledge she gained doing mock trials in high school and college, but also by introducing them to two law students who helped them out.


The RRHS Mock Trial chapter competed in the Virginia High School Mock Trial Competition for their first time on Feb. 11, 2023. All their hard work over the past few months was tested as they competed against various high schools across the state. Unfortunately, the group did not qualify for States, but they did receive many comments on how well they did from opposing teams’ coaches, especially since it was their first time competing.

While their preparation for the day paid off, there was one main issue on the day of the competition. “The only thing that could have gone better is the fact that they delayed the whole competition an hour because they were having some issues and we had to cut down on some of our cases, not do a few parts because we were on a time [crunch],” Yadlapalli said. However, the team still persevered, scoring only a few points below other highly-experienced teams. 

While the team did their best with what they had and the unexpectedly shorter amount of time, the chapter applied all they had learned in their first year of operation. “It was just finding out strategies on prosecution and defense and looking at what works best,” Cheela said. “We also spent a lot of time in preparing witnesses and opening statements and closing statements, really just figuring out how the process of the trial works.” 

Looking to the Future:

Due to their success at regionals in their first year, both senior co-presidents have a good feeling about the team for next year and how they’ll do. “I would definitely want to leave it in good hands, which I think we’re definitely going to do,” Cheela said. “A lot of the members in the club right now that competed are juniors, so they’re definitely able to get their hands on it and take it to the next level next year.” With new members and likely more help from Frey or another person recommended by the competition agency, the Phoenix Mock Trial 2023-2024 Chapter looks to improve and dominate next year’s regionals.