Participate in the Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition

This page contains information for law schools who wish to participate in the Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition.

Participate

With the support of University at Buffalo School of Law, the New York State 8th Judicial District, and the Bar Association of Erie County, the Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition will be held each November in Buffalo, NY.

Schools interested in participating should contact Hon. Tim Franczyk at tpf1@buffalo.edu.

In your email, please include:

  • The school’s name
  • Contact person
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • A brief statement describing the school’s involvement in mock trial competitions in the preceding five years

An invitational email will be sent out to all interested schools in mid-April. Notification of the schools selected (one team per school) will be sent by email by the end of April.

Cost

Entry fee is $750 (subject to change); make a check payable to "University at Buffalo School of Law" (ref: Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition).

Mail payment to:

The Honorable Thomas P. Franczyk
c/o University at Buffalo School of Law
Advocacy Institute
508 O’Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260

Payment is due by the second Friday in September. The case problem is sent out by the first week of September.

Competition Details

The competition begins with four preliminary rounds in which the teams are paired at random. A judge or experienced attorney presides while two attorney evaluators observe and keep score during each round. They all grade the students' performances on score sheets. After the preliminary round, 20 teams advance based on their win/loss record and the total number of winning ballots and points. From there the eight winning teams advance, then the winning four teams, and then the remaining two teams advance to the championship round.

Advocates are scored in several categories (motions/objections, opening, direct exam, cross exam, summation, ethics/civility) based on quality of advocacy, professionalism and ethics. Student advocates are expected to maintain the highest level of professionalism and ethics in the performance of their trials.

Each team must consist of four members. During each trial, two students are advocates and the other two are witnesses. When a team changes sides of the case, the roles must be reversed to ensure that every participant has an opportunity to try the case.

Each team has 80 minutes to try its case (not including motions in limine). Time stops on objections unless the court determines that a team is engaging in unnecessarily protracted, repetitious or unmeritorious arguments. In such case, the offending team may have time deducted and suffer in the scoring. Attorneys for each team must divide their responsibilities evenly so that each counsel is making or responding to motions, directing a witness, crossing a witness and giving either an opening or closing statement.

Case problems are loosely based on several cases that have been expanded by the drafters: Hon. Thomas P. Franczyk (co-director of the Trial Advocacy Program, UB School of Law) and Travis H.D. Lewin (professor of law, Syracuse University College of Law). Case problems are drafted to afford the students a meaningful, challenging and enjoyable learning experience.

Additional details and guidelines are provided in each team's case packet.