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Thu, 08 Feb 2024 16:26:12 -0800

Andy from private IP /all I'm scoring the high school mock trial competition tonight This is my second time doing this in 18 years. I last scored high school mock trial in early 2006, three months after being admitted to practice law. In terms of legal experience, I am a totally different person between then and now, and it's from the mileage of 18 years of law plus thirty-three actual trials. To see these bright-eyed, excited high school students have their naive views of the legal system dashed to pieces in the crucible of a real courtroom, as well as the inevitable adversarial pressure and toxicity, is to see the universal loss of innocence that young people go through every day. I tried coaching one of the teams, but they didn't ask me to return after the first session, apparently because I was too hard on them and expected too much. What a freaking joke; I even said to them "if you think this practice session is difficult, imagine being a lawyer in an actual capital murder trial with a jury box full of twelve people, a judge, a D.A., and everyone looking to you to explain why your client shouldn't go to prison for life, or worse. Now that's actual pressure." I guess they would rather continue their special snowflake Gen Z outlook, but that's my speculation. I'll report back after tonight's sessions, which is four hours from 5-9 p.m. Pacific, and we'll see whether my view is accurate. _reply Thu, 08 Feb 2024 18:45:32 -0800
whiteguyinchina from private IP /all good luck! i wish you could livestream. if you ever need a change of pace, maybe you can work as a mock trial coach in shanghai for one of the international schools. pay is probably like 75k plus housing and travel stipend. ask wily for more details. _reply Thu, 08 Feb 2024 22:28:21 -0800
Wily from private IP /all I was a keynote speaker at an international school's Model UN a few weeks ago here. Felt good being in front of a few hundred high schoolers in suits again. The Israeli flag got stolen on the second day and no one found the culprits, haha just haha. Yea international school pay isn't bad. They keep trying to recruit me to teach there but I make a couple times what they do, so that's not happening. _reply Thu, 08 Feb 2024 23:13:12 -0800
Andy from private IP /all Oh man, that was an interesting experience. Four hours of this left me as drained as eight hours of a real trial due to the amount of notes and writing I did, plus having to pay close attention and focus. The students ranged from bad to amazing-- I was blown away by maybe three out of twenty kids, everyone else was average. The stars on each team belong in law, no joke. I'm scoring two more of these next week, which are the semi-finals and finals. @whiteguyinchinaTest Interesting to know, although I can't afford the pay cut. _reply Tue, 13 Feb 2024 10:47:39 -0800
Andy from private IP /all I'm back in mock trial tonight, and will be scoring the semi-finals. Four high schools left out of about seventeen in my county. The four tonight are competing for the right to have a final championship trial at the Hall of Justice, judged by an actual judge. I am also scoring the finals. I would rather have some of these kids representing me than certain actual attorneys. _reply Tue, 13 Feb 2024 21:22:38 -0800
Andy from private IP /all That was exhausting, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, which is rare for me in court. Lol. These kids mostly crushed it at everything. _reply Thu, 15 Feb 2024 09:08:05 -0800
Andy from private IP /all Going back again tonight for the finals. I dressed up for these kids and I'm bringing my laptop so I can actually take real notes instead of scribbling on the team rosters. Key for individual feedback. _reply Thu, 15 Feb 2024 18:44:07 -0800
cowgod from private IP /all Any Hot Girls? I doubt it since debate and mock trial is the realm of Losers and Nerds, but perhaps there was a Pep Rally going on down the hall or something. Did you try to copy any High School Pussy? _reply Thu, 15 Feb 2024 20:47:54 -0800
Andy from private IP /all Just got back from this-- wow, that was amazing. These were the varsity finals. I would rather have any of the student attorneys represent me than 80% of actual attorneys. They were all very impressive; some were real stars. I had no idea what schools they were from, though. @cowgodTest I won't comment on your actual questions, thank you very much. _reply Thu, 15 Feb 2024 21:32:05 -0800
cowgod from private IP /all I meant to type "cop" rather than "copy" but I got a bit Excited and, as previously mentioned, there is no Edit feature here. If that helps clarify then please proceed to answer the question. Also, did you ask any of the High Schoolers about their Console Histories or Choice of Console? _reply Thu, 15 Feb 2024 21:49:44 -0800
Andy from private IP /all I only had a few moments with each student, which was only enough time to give them the most general feedback about their performances. No time to ask about the console gaming preferences-- these kids have better things to do than play video games, after all. I Googled the top two attorneys that I scored, and it's no surprise where they are in school-- these are essentially the top two programs in the County, and these two students are the top two student attorneys I've ever seen. I would like to give each of them additional feedback or notes, but for some reason the mock trial program makes it difficult to do that by taking my roster and notes away before I provide the feedback. Could be organized better, but it's still admirable what they have done with the program. _reply Fri, 16 Feb 2024 05:33:22 -0800
Andy from private IP /all I had a chance to reflect on this high school mock trial competition overnight. Jesus, some of these kids are stars, and I wasn't shy about commenting to that effect on my award nomination sheet. I'm not saying that high school mock trial was an unduly important experience or restores my faith in anything or whatever-- but as I indicated above, it's really interesting seeing the knife-edge between bright-eyed enthusiasm and the loss of innocence embodied in these students. Reminds me that I was like that many years ago, and that it's important to stay the course on being a good person in order to thread the needle on all the pressures a young person faces. Also, interestingly, some of the student-attorneys simply became different people when not performing in their roles. I was struck by how confident and clearly most of the student-attorneys spoke when doing their trial, versus how meek and unsure some of them became after the trials. And I was watching them after the trials to see what they were like when not presenting. That's realistic, though-- some attorneys become different people when in their roles in court. In any case, with my feedback I tried to strike the right balance between praise and room for improvement, and I think I succeeded. My top two were impossible to get into a private conversation, which is where I would have told them that they are destined for greatness in law, if they so desire. But that is an important reminder that neither I, nor anyone else in mock trial scoring/judging, is the arbiter of what a young adult does with their life. If I can make any small difference in these kids' lives, whether by encouraging students with potential or otherwise, I will. The potential is only part of it, though-- a lot is dumb luck fused with opportunity and hard work. Speaking of which, I have my own law firm and I'm considering inviting my top two to interview with us in the event they wish to take a gap year after high school. Unlikely, but why not ask? As far as I know, that isn't against the rules. I wish I had worked at a law firm before going to law school, and a gap year would have been a great opportunity to do so. Trying to pay it forward here and also recognize talent. _reply Fri, 16 Feb 2024 05:52:22 -0800
Wily from private IP /all Nice - working with genuinely smart and interested high schoolers is always a treat. I'd say the top 5% of high schoolers are a lot more polished today that they were back in our day, actually. _reply Fri, 16 Feb 2024 08:48:42 -0800
Andy from private IP /all @WilyTest it probably helps that the gentrification in my area has drastically increased area parents' resources over the last 30 years or so. 30 years ago, the public school that was in the finals last night didn't even have a mock trial program. The gap between the two schools last night was measurable by the differences in scoring, however, it's narrowing as demonstrated by the closer and closer level of performance by the teams. That's a good thing, but I think it shows that gentrification is partially responsible for public school quality increasing...that's a Freakonomics result, and not how people want it to be. Oh well. _reply Fri, 16 Feb 2024 11:22:06 -0800
Andy from private IP /all Adding the new #Education tag to this topic. _reply Sat, 17 Feb 2024 06:23:48 -0800
Andy from private IP /all I wasn't sure what to do here, so I did my best guess of what was appropriate-- I sent my top two (care of their high school principals) what I was told by my staff is a stunning, impactful, sincere, and also beautifully written letter inviting them to consider careers in law starting with an opportunity at my firm. I just re-read the letter and cover email to the principals, and I must say-- damn, that was a truly outstanding package I sent. Back when I was a senior in high school, I would have loved to get something like this from someone like me (lol). The sense of being a high school senior and having your potential seen and accurately assessed as exceptional by a high-level practitioner in the field should give the recipients a sense of agency and, I hope, conviction that they are choosing the right career for them. As I indicated above, I am not the arbiter of whether someone will succeed as a trial attorney; however, I do claim to be able to very accurately assess whether someone has what it takes. These kids have what it takes, and I would rather just select someone who has what it takes than do a vast and expensive search producing the same result. If nothing else, the letter was the highest possible compliment I can give to the programs at these schools, and their members. So here we are. _reply Wed, 21 Feb 2024 06:12:54 -0800
Andy from private IP /all I heard back from one of the principals, who unsurprisingly indicated that he had to consult the mock trial coach before proceeding further, if at all. It's funny because I already know that mock trial coach professionally and already indicated substantial interest in the student. Patience is not my strong suit with hiring, and neither is dealing with bureaucracy or procedures. There's too dire of a need with a jury trial coming up next week and several more over the following few months, so I went ahead and posted the ad. No additional personalized invitations will go out, though-- I picked the top two that I would want for that. How did I do? https://www.andrewwatters.com/law/Intern-ad.pdf _reply Wed, 21 Feb 2024 09:30:50 -0800
Andy from private IP /all The other principal wrote me a very kind note thanking me and confirming that he passed along my letter as requested. That is the difference between a private school that recognizes opportunity and a public school that stifles it. Sad. _reply Wed, 21 Feb 2024 13:48:57 -0800
Andy from private IP /all Further comment-- even in my area, which is one of the most gentrified school districts in the world, the public school law and regulations seem to be preventing their student from getting hand-picked for a job he's perfectly suited for. The private school doesn't have the same red tape. The different reactions here would make a great one-act play about education in America. _reply Tue, 27 Feb 2024 04:33:54 -0800
Andy from private IP /all Demonstrating my impressions about the differences between public and private schools, the private school student wrote me back, thanked me for my letter, and set up an interview and office tour for the internship opportunity. Apparently they are a captain of mock trial at their school as well as an award-winning student-attorney-- but they also have substantial graphic design and writing capabilities. They are going to a top university this Fall after graduating high school. No surprises here, I'm just taken aback by the unbelievable modesty of this student. Polymaths are super rare and I always hold out hope to find them-- if that initial assessment is accurate, then the offer will include a firehose of money. Haha. _reply Thu, 29 Feb 2024 07:24:36 -0800
whiteguyinchina from private IP /all I would say you are overestimating the child, nowadays they are all multi talented. Surely they are a top student but all top students are polymaths. Like concert pianist with international ballet experience and a mock trial. Started a nonprofit to fix homeless dog teeth. Great you are involved in that Andy. Although creepy. Jk
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