The long-standing partnership between the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) and Drake Law School remains strong with several alumni active in the organization or assisting with the organization’s national finals, recently held in Des Moines and hosted by Drake Law School.
The 27th annual AMTA Championships brought the top 48 teams from across the country to Des Moines for the final rounds of competition in April.
Matthew Eslick, AS’02, LW’05, an attorney at Nyemaster Goode in Des Moines, serves on the AMTA board and assisted with administration of the finals. Emily Anderson, AS’04, LW’07, is co-chair of the Iowa Young Lawyers’ Division Mock Trial Committee and aided in judge recruitment.
One of those judges was Tim Semelroth, AS’94, an attorney from Cedar Rapids who was a member of Drake’s 1993 national champion mock trial team and later coached Anderson’s high school team to a state title.
“Drake provided me with mock trial coaches who were great legal role models and teammates who are among the most talented people I have ever met,” says Semelroth. “They all combined to inspire me to hone my trial advocacy to the point that it became my life’s work. My time in the Drake mock trial program has served as a foundation for my entire professional career. I still treasure all of the friends I made and the valuable lessons I learned.”
Since its founding in 1985 by Richard Calkins, then dean of Drake Law School, the AMTA has sought to help undergraduate students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills while increasing awareness of legal practices and procedures.
Members of the Drake Undergraduate Mock Trial team earned two individual awards in early rounds of this year’s competition, helping the team advance to the final round of the national competition.
“Getting to nationals is what we’ve been working for all year long,” said Kyair Butts, a senior psychology and journalism major and co-captain of the Drake team. “Our hard work paid off. I’m incredibly proud of this team and what they’ve done.”
Junior news-Internet major Greg Boal received one of 10 Outstanding Attorney awards in early competition. Daniel Van Sant, a senior international relations major, received the All ORCS (Opening Round Championship Series) Witness Award for his portrayal of a German toy designer at the fictional company of HappyLand Toy Co., as well as an undercover journalist that investigated the same company. Van Sant also received an All American Witness award during the competition finals.
“I was shocked and thrilled to receive this award because I have been involved in Mock Trial for 11 years and being the top-ranked individual was a great addition to my last year,” Van Sant said.