New Mock Trial Team Brings Opportunities for Pre-Law Students


The whole team at the mock trial scrimmage against Iona. ALICIA CAMARGO/COURTESY 


By: Kelly Kennedy, Senior Writer

Last August, four students had an idea to bring a new club to Manhattan College, where students could come together and compete simulating a real-life trial through the American Mock Trial Association. Mock trial is present at many schools across the country, and is now finally a part of the MC community. 

The club was created by Anthony Campolo as president, Brielle Scavonne as vice president, Joseph Brennan as treasurer and Alicia Camargo as secretary. Campolo and Scavonne both participated in mock trials in their high schools, and had the idea to bring the club to MC. They brought the idea to Adriane Bilous, PhD, the Assistant Director of the Center for Graduate School & Fellowship Advisement, who now serves as their advisor. 

“When Anthony came to me in September, he said, ‘I had spoken to brother Dan, and we had this idea. You know, can you help us?’ I thought this was brilliant,” said Bilous. “It’s not just a way for students at Manhattan College to develop, you know, speaking skills, critical thinking skills, but it’s really a way for us to get on the national stage as a pre-law program.”  

Mock trials are a great opportunity for students to build their skills in a courtroom, as well as improve their public speaking skills and make new connections.

“So, mock trial is a great program where you could compete in an actual courtroom, you get a fake case, but it’s pretty much like a real case,” Campolo. “And you get to argue based on the affidavits that you’re given the exhibits that you’re getting, you get photographs, audio tapes, and so you really get to get creative with the arguments that you use.”

Campolo said he hopes the addition of the club will draw more pre-law students to MC. 

Members of the executive board at their first scrimmage against Iona. ALICA CARMAGO/COURTESY

 “The reason why we brought it to Manhattan College is that it really is a revolutionary thing from Manhattan College since there really was no existing strong pre-law piece to the school,” Campolo said. “Our hope is that this opens up a whole new branch for Manhattan College to have a lot more pre-law students coming in. This club can also aid students who may not know if they want to go into law school, to help them decide. So, we’re hoping this would increase Manhattan College’s enrollment of students for years to come.”

On Sunday, Jan. 22, the team competed in their first scrimmage against Iona. This scrimmage was held here at MC and gave the students a chance to practice before their first competition in Connecticut this Feb. 

The team has been preparing for months and has made great progress as they prepare to compete. Some of the students who auditioned last semester have never even participated in a mock trial before, but now the team is confident as they are going into their first competition. There are around 25 members, and 10 of those students will go on to compete in Connecticut.

“It’s not just a kind of team building, but also to prepare their defense, prepare their witnesses, prepare their opening statements.” said Bilous. “So, a lot of that initial work was kind of bringing a lot of the first year students up into that lingo, so that they had a fair chance to compete and audition for this team. We have incredible first-year students, and so they are on par with those sophomores and juniors.” 

This new team founded by students has created a great opportunity for those involved to gain experience and help them on their path of deciding to go to law school. 

“I’m excited to see everyone’s individual growth and seeing everyone that’s on our team and kind of how they started off from tryouts and seeing how they do in the courtroom,” said Camargo.

The mock trial team is currently being coached by MC Alum and Bronx District attorney, John Miras.

“It is just amazing to see an alum get excited, and come back to help,” Bilous said. “And seasoned doesn’t even begin to describe him as a lawyer, but he’s going to be there on Sunday when we host Iona college and coach our students. So we’re really excited to have an alum coming back to bring out a new kind of development in the pre-law program.” 

“This is a senior homicide counsel attorney for the Bronx,” Campolo said. “So, this is a very well-versed, very experienced attorney in trial, which is very important. What we’re talking about is a mock trial where a lot of attorneys, contrary to popular belief, will never actually see a trial. They’ll just advise and kind of consult based on the law. So, to have somebody with his expertise in the trial and in the court system has truly been invaluable.” 

The club has also given pre-law students their own community here at MC, as pre-law programs are growing. 

“It’s almost as if we’ve built this kind of family, this pre-Law School. Camaraderie is fantastic, even for students who don’t want to compete and just be a part of that community. It’s very important. Especially when you’re trying to navigate the challenges of law school and getting accepted into law school as well,” said Campolo.

Students interested in joining can reach out to any of the executive board members, or check out the club webpage at www.manhattan.edu

“We’re always looking for new members as well. They could find us on the College’s actual website in the club section on your Manhattan mock trial, and you could contact either Adriane Bilous, our advisor, or myself. There’s also a website where you can actually fill out a survey, put your name, what position you’d like to try out for either witness or attorney, and why you’re interested in a mock trial to just be a part of the email list and the Google Classroom so at least you get access to the materials,” said Campolo.

Leave a Reply