Legal education has become a regular part of school curriculum. Especially at the high school level, it has become routine to offer our young people classes in business law and criminal justice.

To provide local high school students with the opportunity to see how our justice system really works and to experience, first-hand, some of what a trial attorney does, the Kane County Bar Foundation sponsors the Annual High School Mock Trial Program.

The Mock Trials are held around Law Day (May 1) each year. Each school is assigned a part in a hypothetical criminal or civil trial. Students from the school serve as the “attorneys” and witnesses, and present their case in accord with Illinois law, against a team from another school, before a jury comprised of students from still other schools. The teams are coached by teachers from the schools, and local attorneys are available to provide expert assistance along the way.

Thanks to the continued cooperation of the local judiciary, the mock trials are held in actual Kane County courtrooms, either at the Third Street Courthouse or at the Kane County Judicial Center. In many cases, the trials are presided over by actual Kane County Judges.

Since its inception more than 25 years ago, the High School Mock Trial Program has involved thousands of students from local high schools as well as high schools from Cook and DuPage County. Students participating in the Program learn that to be successful, attorneys must prepare long and hard.

Excellent research and thinking skills, and good public speaking ability, are essential to the presentation of a winning case. But, as in real life, sometimes the best-presented case might end in a not-too-favorable outcome.

But the skills learned by participation in the Program serve the students well in later life. More than a few of the students participating in the Program have gone on to legal careers, with a number of them practicing in Kane County today.

Invitations are mailed to schools in early February. If your school might be interested in participating, contact the Bar Foundation. In addition, the mock trials are always open to the public. Anyone interested in seeing how our young people seriously meet the responsibility of acting as participants in the legal system is welcome to attend.