Practicing law for the past 35 years, GJEL Partner Luke Ellis has developed an outstanding reputation in the courtroom. For the past ten of those years, he has worked consistently to develop a related passion: Mock Trial. As coach for Contra Costa County’s Miramonte High School Mock Trial team, Luke’s teams have won eight of ten county championships, including the past three consecutive years. Last week, the Lamorinda Sun profiled Luke and a number of his Mock Trial students for a story that highlights the important critical and verbal skills honed by experience with Mock Trial.
One student, Rob Robinson, says he will use the skills learned through Mock Trial as he contests a state traffic ticket in court soon. “Without the experience of Mock Trial, I would have no idea how I could fight a ticket,” he said. “A lot of people don’t understand how technical the law is…you have to be a credible witness.”
With the help of Luke’s Mock Trial expertise, GJEL has developed a Mock Trial Resource complete with rules, suggestions for the prosecution and defense, and a Q&A with Luke. The article goes on to discuss the concrete benefits of being part of a high school Mock Trial program, and Luke’s growth as the team’s coach. Here’s an excerpt:
Ellis, who moved to Orinda 24 years ago, believes in the benefits of Mock Trial so much that he sent all three of his children through the program. The experienced trial lawyer, who helped to won a $10.6 million wrongful death suit connected to the 2004 Walnut Creek pipeline explosion, has always been drawn to teaching, having received his bachelor’s degree in education before attending law school at UC Berkeley.
“After the first year, I was just sold on it,” he said. “I really enjoyed working with that range of kids, ages 14 to 18, who have no experience with the law other than maybe what they would see in the media.”
Although Mock Trial appeals to performing arts students as well as future law students, Ellis said, “The dramatic things we see in TV or read about law, they tend to just hit the highlights or low points. It takes a lot of work, and it’s telling a different kind of story.”
Read the story and the GJEL Mock Trial Resource for more on Luke Ellis, his team, and Mock Trial as a source of critical and verbal development for high school students. Here’s how the story looked on paper: