John Grimes, J.D., and his UAB Mock Trial Team students are on the kind of roll that would make Perry Mason take notice.
|Nathan Mays makes his case during a recent exhibition between UAB and Middle Tennessee State University’s Mock Trial Teams.|
First, there was the national tournament and regional championship in 2006. Then in February there was another regional championship, one that has the team poised to defend its national tournament title in St. Petersburg, Fla., April 13-15.
Grimes says UAB’s current run of success is not an accident. Rather, he says, his students have earned every opportunity and honor they have received through their commitment and perseverance. For that, Grimes could not be happier.
“I am so very proud of having the privilege of serving as the head coach of the Mock Trial Teams,” Grimes says. “This is absolutely the best performing team UAB has ever had. These young men and women are dedicated and hard working, and it shows.”
The Mock Trial Team won its bid to defend its national tournament title in February. UAB fielded two squads in the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Mid-Southern Regional Competition at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. Teams had to place fifth or better to advance to the national tournament. UAB’s Green Squad won the competition with an 8-0 record. The UAB Gold Squad placed third.
Regional competition included 14 teams from nine colleges and universities representing Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. The Gold Squad went on to place ninth at Northwestern University March 16-18. This marks the fourth time in the UAB’s 12-year history competing in AMTA that both squads earned bids to compete nationally.
Grounds for consideration
Ask Grimes to describe what it’s like for UAB students to be a part of the Mock Trial Team and he responds with a single word: intense.
“It is an intense 12-month program from September through May and includes summer courses,” Grimes says. “But during that program a student is going to come away with a true understanding of whether the law is really where they want to channel all of their energies and aspirations.”
UAB began offering a minor in legal affairs this past fall and has a pre-law program that has been in existence since the mid-1990s. But Grimes says the mission is not to manufacture more lawyers. He wants the program to help shepherd students through the critical crossroad they are coming to in their lives – deciding whether they really want to be a lawyer.
“We’re here to provide UAB students an avenue to help them make an intelligent, informed and experientially based decision about their future,” Grimes says. “Too many times people have gone all the way through law school, taken the bar, began practicing and realized it’s not for them.
“If someone completes our program and goes on to law school and becomes a lawyer, great,” he says. “But if they take our program and say ‘I’ve never worked so hard in my life – and I wouldn’t take anything for the experience, but I know law is not what I want to do’ that’s OK, too. We consider each of those experientially based decisions a win.”
Grimes says there are many on campus that share in the success of the Mock Trial Team. He points to the support of UAB’s administration, including President Carol Garrison, Provost Eli Capilouto, School of Social & Behavioral Sciences Dean Tennant McWilliams, Ph.D., and Justice Sciences Chair John Sloan, Ph.D., as integral contributors to the team’s accomplishments.
Grimes says his staff of assistant coaches and practicing attorneys of Jim Phillips, J.D., and Darrell Harris, J.D. “comprise what I believe to be the finest coaching staff in the business.”
Of course, Grimes also gives an immense amount of praise to his Mock Trial Team students, including team captains Elizabeth Blair, Joseph Dease and Josh Carden.
“I’m exceedingly blessed to be surrounded by many of UAB’s best and brightest, including wonderful team members,” Grimes says. “My coaching staff and I are genuinely amazed and humbled at the privilege of shaping, guiding and directing our students as they prepare for future leadership positions in all walks of life.”