The Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition strives to give students a fuller understanding of the American justice system by allowing them to experience the legal process first hand. Through role playing as lawyers, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants, students develop an awareness and appreciation for the mechanism our society has chosen to resolve its disputes. Some students even have been known to choose a career in law based on their mock trial experience. The Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition is organized, hosted and judged by members of the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (YLD). As a public service project of the YLD, there is no charge for teams to compete in the state mock trial competition.
The competition dates back to 1980 when the first high school mock trial was held in Knox County. The following year, in an effort to take the competition state-wide, the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division was asked to host the high school mock trial as a law-related education public service project. Participation has increased from an initial four schools the first year to well over 100 schools today.
The state competition is an intense, two-day event in which each team participates in a minimum of four trial rounds. Team rankings are determined by points acquired and rounds won in a “power-match” system. Only teams advancing from their district competition will be eligible to participate at the state competition in Nashville.
Tennessee’s state champion is eligible to participate in the National High School Mock Trial Championship. Tennessee can be proud of its teams' performance at the national level. The state championship team won both the 2002 and 2003 National Mock Trial Championships, becoming the first team ever to repeat in winning the title. In 2004, the Tennessee team placed in the top 10.