BHS Mock Trial co-captains collaborate on the fast-growing club  


The Mock Trial team is a club at Berkeley High School that caters to those interested in a future career in law. At the beginning of the school year, members are given a trial case and then assigned certain roles, such as the role of a prosecution witness, defense attorney,  bailiff, and other positions regularly seen in a courtroom. Further into the season, as members become increasingly familiar with the case and their individual duties in representing the case, the team competes against other schools in front of real judges in an actual courthouse. 

Sarah Lim is a senior at BHS and an avid member of the Mock Trial team, having been a part of the team for all four years and serving on the board for two. This year, the club’s popularity has grown, tasking Lim along with the other two co-captains of the team, seniors Philippa Zlatev and Camhan Ngo, with crafting a system of two teams — each with their respective courtroom roles — in order to cater to the team’s increasing numbers.

“Before I was a co-captain, I feel like the audition process was pretty competitive and some people weren’t able to get the roles they wanted,” said Lim. This new system developed by the club captains now allows all students interested in Mock Trial to join without the fear of having to be cut from the team, an accomplishment Lim finds pride in.

Much of the senior captains’ time is dedicated to behind the scenes work in order to ensure that Mock Trial runs smoothly and productively. “Emailing people at the county to make sure we have our money in to compete, going to the courthouse, reading over 40 (or) 30 people’s examinations and statements takes a lot of time,” said Lim.

While dealing with such challenges and time commitments may seem overwhelming, Zlatev, another co-captain, interprets this hard work as a way to gain new insights on what it means to be a responsible leader. “Even though I might … have an entire curriculum planned out for that week, it’s not always gonna go my way,” said Zlatev. Being a leader is less about forcing one’s own agenda, and more about being understanding of the commitments that members have outside of Mock Trial.

The three leaders keep this trait of flexibility in mind as they go through the process of selecting new board members to lead the team once they depart from BHS. One thing the leaders look for in future board members is what can be considered to be the most obvious trait: passion.“It’s mostly just who … has the most experience and is eager to (lead),” said Ngo.

The leaders also consider diversity when selecting new individuals to fill their leadership roles. “Mock Trial is a reflection of law and usually that’s a male-dominated field, so we’re going to try and incorporate more female voices,” said Zlatev. Mostly, the leaders look to promote those who step up in the club and demonstrate leadership skills through their collaboration, commitment, and assistance to other peers within the club.

With their final year of high school halfway through, the three get to look back on and celebrate the impacts they have had on the Mock Trial team.  

“It’s really inspiring to me once we get to the end of the season to see all the knowledge everyone has gained, and to see how far everyone’s come,” said Zlatev. After leaving BHS, Zlatev hopes to earn a degree in economics, as well as political science. She has plans of going into law, possibly European law, as a means of connecting back with her Bulgarian roots.

For Ngo, while she plans to continue Mock Trial after leaving BHS, she hopes to pursue a career more geared toward film. Similarly to Mock Trial, film allows one to develop and commit to a character and take on a designated role. “I have always loved a good courtroom movie,” said Ngo. “I just think developing a character for a really long time kind of ties into both (interests).”

As for Lim, she has plans to major in economics and hopes to later go on to attend law school. 

During their time with the BHS Mock Trial team, all three captains have gained valuable experience and knowledge of the field of law. As they prepare to leave BHS behind, Zlatev leaves students and potential Mock Trial participants with a hopeful message: “If you want to become a lawyer, this is a great place to start.”