Trial Advocacy

The Boalt Trial Advocate

2014 Spring Newsletter

2013 Fall Newsletter

2013 Spring Newsletter

2009-2010 Newsletter

2008-2009 Newsletter

Welcome to Berkeley Law's External Trial Competition Program!

We’re Growing!

In recent years, our External Trial Competition Program has seen unprecedented growth in involvement, excitement, and success.  We have transformed from a regional program with 8-10 competitors and 1-2 coaches into a program with a national reputation for excellence, made up of 25-30 students and 14-16 coaches.  Like all of our advocacy programs, the External Trial Competition Program holds competitive tryouts twice yearly.  Due to demand to join the program, we are only able to accept between 3 and 4 of every 10 students who try out.

The tryouts are held in the Spring and the Fall (for 1Ls and transfer students), and are open to anyone and everyone—with or without prior experience.  All we ask for is energy and a willingness to learn.

About Our Program

Once in the program, our wealth of coaching support allows us to provide our students not only group-based practices with our coaches, but also extensive one-on-one time during which students fine tune their skills.  We also have a robust system of internal scrimmages that ensures that each of our teams is ready for competition long before they reach their tournament.

Thanks to the generous support of Peter Bales, ’07, we also have an annual Bales Trial Competition open to 1Ls.  This internal competition is unparalleled, offering our students the chance to compete on 2-person teams using a fact pattern we generate internally.  Each team tries their case several times, and the winner of the championship round receives a scholarship.  We view the Bales Trial Competition not only as a great tournament, but also as a way for 1Ls to put themselves in position to join our competition teams.

The Tournaments We Attend

In law school mock trial, different from both college and high school mock trial, there are several different tournaments, each with its own fact pattern.  Different tournaments have different focuses: some involving employment cases, others personal injury, and still other criminal cases. Each member of our program attends one tournament.

The tournaments we attend have some variance, year to year.  Some of that variance is due to our goal of balancing the number of civil and criminal competitions every year.  In recent years, we have been very fortunate to receive invitations to the Tournament of Champions, the National Civil Trial Competition, and the Top Gun Tournament, each being invitation-only and limited to the country’s leading trial advocacy programs.

We also have attended national competitions including the National Trial Competition (NTC/TYLA), the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition (AAJ STAC), the American Bar Association Labor & Employment Competition, and the National Ethics Trial Competition.

Situated in the San Francisco Bay Area’s strong legal market, we have also been fortunate to receive invitations to regional tournaments in our area.  Those include the California Association of Criminal Justice Trial Competition, the San Francisco Trial Lawyers’ Association Trial Competition, and the San Diego Defense League’s Trial Competition.

Why Should You Try Out?

Do you want to try cases when you graduate?  Do you want to handle litigation in complex civil disputes?  Do you want to negotiate corporate mergers and acquisitions?  In almost any area of legal practice, you will find that advocacy plays a central role—whether it is in a courtroom or a conference room.  The skills you will gain as part of our program will prepare you to be a lawyer, no matter what your area of practice.

You will also benefit from joining a tight-knit alumni community.  Our alumni have integral positions in the nation’s leading legal markets, including with the country’s preeminent law firms, District Attorneys and US Attorney’s Offices, and State and Federal Public Defenders’ Offices. This is the network you join when you are a part of the Berkeley Law External Trial Competition Program.

For more information, please contact Spencer Pahlke, ’07, the Director of the Berkeley Law External Trial Competition Program, at

A sample of our competitions

National Trial Competition, Texas Young Lawyers Association

The National Trial Competition was established in 1975 to encourage and strengthen students' advocacy skills through quality competition and valuable interaction with members of the bench and bar. The program is designed to expose law students to the nature of trial practice and to serve as a supplement to their education. It is the Texas Young Lawyers Association's intent to provide a meaningful contribution to the development of future trial lawyers

Student Trial Advocacy Competition, American Association for Justice

AAJ seeks to inspire excellence in trial advocacy through training and education for both law students and practicing attorneys. The association accomplishes this goal in part by sponsoring the National Student Trial Advocacy Competition -- an annual nationwide mock trial competition. The competition is an exceptional opportunity for law students to develop and practice their trial advocacy skills before distinguished members of the bar and bench.

San Diego Defense Lawyers Mock Trial Competition

The San Diego Defense Lawyers organization focuses on general civil litigation and puts on a Mock Trial competition each year for California law students. Berkeley has established a strong presence at the SDDL tournament--Boalt teams took first prize at SDDL in 2009 and 2010.

San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Association Mock Trial Competition

Each year, SFTLA holds its annual Trial Competition in San Francisco. The competition focuses broadly on tort claims and seeks to educate law students on the nature of personal injury litigation. Berkeley has long competed in the SFTLA tournament and took third place in 2010.

Georgetown White Collar Crime Invitational

Georgetown Law Center's Barristers' Council has held its White Collar Crime Mock Trial competition for over a decade. Boalt received an invitation to compete and will attend the tournament for the first time in 2011.



Top Gun: National Championship

Tournament of Champions: Semi-Final Round   

NTC: Regionals, 1st Place; Nationals: Top 10

AAJ: Regionals, Semi-Finals (2 teams)

ABA Labor & Employment: Regionals, Undefeated in Los Angeles Tournament


 AAJ: Regionals, 1st and 2nd Place; Nationals, Semi-Final round

ABA Labor & Employment: Regionals, 1st Place; Nationals, 2nd Place

NTC: Regionals, 1st Place; Nationals, Top 28


AAJ: Regionals, 1st and 2nd Place; Nationals, Semi-Final round

ABA Labor & Employment: Regionals, 1st Place; Nationals, Semi-Final Round   

San Diego Defense League: 1st Place

NTC: Regionals, Semi-Finals (2 teams)


San Diego Defense League: 1st Place

AAJ: Regionals, Semi-Finals

NTC: Regionals, Finals


NTC: Regionals, Semi-Finals (2 teams)


AAJ: Regionals, 1st and 2nd Place; Nationals, Top 16

San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association: 1st Place