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School of Law | Mock Trial Team Hit the Gym and the Courtroom

Mock Trial Team Hit the Gym and the Courtroom

Going to trial is often described as going to battle. One side pitted against the other, matching wits, creativity and passion. This winter, the School of Law's Mock Trial team took that idea to a new level by working out with a boxing trainer to prepare for the 2010 mock trial competition. The students didn't spar, but they did learn basic boxing techniques and focused on cardio workouts and strength training. Surrounded by signs that say things like "No Whining" and "If you can accept losing, you can't win," a quote from Vince Lombardi, the students did pushups and sit ups, lifted tires over their heads and banged their fists against punching bags.

"It's intense. I've never done anything like this before," said 3L Edward Delp of West Lafayette, Indiana.

After returning from their winter break, the team of four 3Ls, which also includes Trinity Car, Dale Coburn and Alex Fernandez, worked out about once a week with John Drake, the owner of Drake's Downtown Gym in Dayton.

This unusual training regiment helped the students prepare for the regional mock trial competition, held February 12-14 at Ohio State's Moritz College of Law.

Though they didn't advance to the national finals, the students said the training made them better prepared for the competition. "I didn't know how draining it would be" to conduct two trials a day, said Car of Sarasota, Florida. But she was better able to handle the stress after going through Drake's workouts.

The training had another important effect, helping the students get to know one another. "We're all going through this together," Delp said as he cooled down after one workout. "I think it's great preparation for the competition," he said. "You have to be prepared for anything."

Training with Drake was the idea of Professor and team advisor Dennis Turner, who himself works out at Drake's Gym three times a week. Turner got the idea when he read a Dayton Daily News article last fall about how the UD men's basketball team prepared for their season by working out with Drake.

While mock trial competitions are not the physically challenging sport that basketball is, Turner said the competitions are rigorous, with students conducting two trials a day during the events. He said he wanted to help the team deal with the physical, as well as mental, strain of the competition. "Those who can maintain their physical strength have an edge" over the competition, he said.

Turner also wanted to help improve the students' focus during the competition. Good trial lawyers and mock trial competitors, he said, can keep their cool, control their emotions and stay sharp. "Otherwise, it's over."

Drake agreed, saying that his goal was to help the student from a "fitness and mental standpoint."

"They need the mental toughness to get to the top," he said. "When things get tough you have to focus."

Fernandez, who is from Miami, said the training also helped the students manage stress. "And anything that helps us de-stress is worthwhile," said Fernandez, who described himself as a "huge boxing fan."

"I've never boxed, but the cardio part I have partaken in," he said. "I have not worked this hard since high school though."

During one workout, Drake compared boxing to a court case as he demonstrated several boxing techniques. As he taught the students how to deliver a left hook, he said, "You want to deliver that cross examination right in the gut." The student then spent the next 10 minutes throwing punching combinations, prepping to deliver a knock out to the competition.

The workouts made an impression of Car, who has continued to train at Drake's Gym. She said a boxing workout of circuit training, bag work and sparring has been a "nice change up in my routine," which usually includes running and yoga.

"It's a great workout that gets your heart rate up and gives you total body conditioning," she said. "Mock Trial showed me just how demanding trial work will be physically, as well as mentally. Being physically fit definitely helps. I'm also hoping it helps get me in better shape for a half marathon I'm running in May."


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