Law students set goals for expanded opportunities

Sophomores+Amarye+Tovar+and+Coral+Rolon+practice+their+mock+trial+routine+before+district+competitions+in+the+fall.+Students+practice+their+routines+repeatedly+to+perfect+their+skills+in+courtroom+procedure+and+questioning+witnesses.
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Law students set goals for expanded opportunities

Sophomores Amarye Tovar and Coral Rolon practice their mock trial routine before district competitions in the fall. Students practice their routines repeatedly to perfect their skills in courtroom procedure and questioning witnesses.

Sophomores Amarye Tovar and Coral Rolon practice their mock trial routine before district competitions in the fall. Students practice their routines repeatedly to perfect their skills in courtroom procedure and questioning witnesses.

Arianna Farner

Sophomores Amarye Tovar and Coral Rolon practice their mock trial routine before district competitions in the fall. Students practice their routines repeatedly to perfect their skills in courtroom procedure and questioning witnesses.

Arianna Farner

Arianna Farner

Sophomores Amarye Tovar and Coral Rolon practice their mock trial routine before district competitions in the fall. Students practice their routines repeatedly to perfect their skills in courtroom procedure and questioning witnesses.

Jackson Battle and Arianna Farner

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After placing in the top 10 at the state level mock trial competition, students in the Future Lawyers of America organization have high hopes for the future.

The Akins mock trial team, which is a mix of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, ranked first in district and seventh at state. It was a big improvement from their performance last year when they ranked seventh in district and 37th at state.

“I think our team can definitely do it next year even without me because some of them have just as much experience as I do,” said senior Kolby Tate, who was the captain of the mock trial blue team.

And I know that they will continue to excel and continue to improve and learn from each other…”

— Kolby Tate, captain of the mock trials blue team

A mock trial is similar to a debate except it relates to criminal justice trials. The students get a packet and act out their case to the best of their ability with the law that they know like a court case. Every year, the Akins mock trial team competes in a regional YMCA Mock Trial competition against other schools and each team tries to place as high as possible.

The mock trials program is separated into three different teams: the white team, which is composed of sophomores, the gold team, which has juniors, and the blue team, that contains seniors. Students in each team constantly practice in class, after school, and sometimes during the weekends for competition.

“We revised a lot of our questions to make sure that there were no flaws so that other teams wouldn’t be able to object or to sustain any of our things,” said junior Jose Luna-Espinoza, a member of the gold team.

The mock trial program is just one aspect of the Future Lawyers of America student organization, which is made up of students in the Principles of Law classes and the Legal Eagles internship. FLA was created by students from the Academy of Business Leadership and Legal Enterprises to organize students from different grade levels and classes who pursue a career in the legal profession.

In February, the Legal Eagles visited the Texas State Capitol after being recognized as the first high school legal aid clinic in the country. Representative Donna Howard honored the students with a resolution in the Texas House of Representatives.

The law teacher Mr. Salek has a goal of getting Akins recognized as the top legal program in the country in the near future. He hopes that the mock trial team can go from being the top team in central Texas to the top team in the state and beyond. Salek also hopes that they can build partnerships with law firms, prosecutors office, and the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

Salek said students made a lot of improvement in their mock trial competitions this year.

“I think the goal is to get all three teams in the top 10 and eventually be one of the top three teams in the entire state,” Salek said.

And if they’re happy, they’re smiling, they’re feeling good, and they’re not struggling, that is meeting my goal. ”

— law teacher Armin Salek

After the competition, Salek was extremely proud of his students for how high they placed compared to last year. Their public speaking skills and their ability to analyze have improved drastically, he said. He added that their ability to pull apart arguments as well as their understanding of logical fallacies and finding holes in arguments have also been elevated.

“I hope to one day walk into a courtroom and watch my students argue a case,” Salek said. “I hope to one day walk into a courtroom and argue a case before my students who becomes a judge.”

Zoie Moreno contributed to this story.

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