This summer, Notre Dame Law School hosted a moot court tournament for over 30 seventh and eighth graders in the South Bend community participating in Notre Dame’s TRIO Talent Search Summer Academy. The program was held from July 11th to July 20th.
The TRIO Talent Search Summer Academy welcomes middle school students from first-generation, minority, and low-income backgrounds to Notre Dame every summer for two weeks with the intent of reducing summer learning loss and preparing students for the next grade level. Participants receive academic enrichment in language arts and mathematics, exposure to career opportunities, and socio-cultural experiences.
"TRIO Talent Search 7th and 8th grade Summer Academy students thrived in our collaboration with Notre Dame Law School," said Asma Musleh, Talent Search Advisor for Notre Dame's TRIO Programs. "The Mock Trial experience has been truly heartwarming. Witnessing their growth in critical thinking, communication, and teamwork skills has been a joy, and I'm thrilled that this partnership has given them a taste of the exciting world of law while helping them shine with confidence and ambition.”
Students met with Christine Venter, Director of Notre Dame Law School’s Legal Writing Program on July 11th to learn basic principles of oral advocacy and receive the case problem they would need to prepare for their oral arguments during the tournament.
"It is critically important to give young people in our community a positive introduction to the law," said Max Gaston, Director of Diversity Equity, and Inclusion for Notre Dame Law School. "They need to see themselves and those who look like them succeeding in this space to understand that they can be here one day themselves."
On Monday, July 17th the students observed volunteers from Notre Dame Law School perform a moot court showcase. The students were then coached by the volunteers in preparation for their own oral arguments, which took place on July 20th in the McCartan Courtroom of the Law School.
"It felt like it was an actual court trial with actual judges since we were in an actual courtroom," wrote Layla Washington, a student in the TRIO program. "Even though I was a part of the co-counsel, it still makes me excited to be a lawyer in the coming future."
"We look forward to partnering with TRIO in the future to develop more opportunities to expose local youth to the study and practice of law," said Gaston.