Emma Bryant was named an Outstanding Attorney at the recent Colorado Bar Association Mock Trial Competition and she is also a standout student at the CEC Middle College of Denver. Following is what she had to say about her CEC experience, mock trial and her plans for the future.
Emma, what classes have you taken as a CEC student?
I am currently in Video Game Programming, but I took two full semesters of Law and one of the split. I’ve also taken Criminal Justice.
You did so well in the Mock Trial and the CEC law class, what made you change to Video Game Programming?
I had a good experience in law, but I wanted to expand my studies. I am interested in going into Patent law so I need some engineering and math as well as law, so I figured gaming would be a good place to start.
Why have you chosen patent law as your focus?
I was talking with my Dad and Mr. Migliorino (CEC Law teacher) about careers in law and I really like chemistry and science so I was thinking a combination of the two would be good and patent law seemed like the best way to go.
Tell me about the mock trial competition.
We get a case and it’s either civil or criminal depending on what they choose and so you get witness statements and evidence and jury instructions and all the things you get if you’re an actual lawyer in an actual case. We get roles, either witnesses or attorneys. And then we prepare the case and we practice and scrimmage against other schools. For the actual competition, there are usually four rounds and you’re either the defense or the prosecution team and you go up against other schools. For this competition it was just Denver, but for the Providence Cup, which is the other competition we do, it’s the entire country.
What was the case for this year’s competition?
This time it was a civil case about texting and driving. There was a driver who was distracted and a bicyclist and it was a car accident and the bicyclist was suing the driver for damages.
Why did you get involved in Mock Trial?
I came to CEC for Criminal Justice and Mock Trial was pretty much the closest thing to that. I also wanted something to do after school and it looked like a good resume builder and I actually really liked it so I decided to stick around.
How long have you been doing it?
Three years; ever since I was a freshman.
How do you think you benefit from being part of that program?
Well, it’s not just for law, you benefit because it gives you public speaking practice and helps you plan and think on your feet and it also is just fun. The team is great, you get to meet new people and make friends and you learn how to think creatively. I think that’s the best part about it. Even though everyone gets the same case you never know what you’re going to get. A team could play up certain aspects and bury the rest.
So you have to be able to react to what the other team does?
You both get to make objections, so if the other team makes an objection you get to respond, you can’t just have memorized it with your own team because the other teams don’t think the same way you do.
How do you think it emulates an actual trial?
I think it’s pretty accurate actually. It’s a little bit different because you’re always allowed to respond to objections whereas in actual court they sometimes just rule and move on and you don’t get to make motions and that kind of stuff, but other than that it’s pretty much the same as an actual trial. You have opening statements, closing arguments, direct examinations, cross-examinations—it’s really cool.
Tell me about the Outstanding Attorney Award.
There are only six awards given in Denver (out of 50-60 attorneys). It’s based on the scores the judges give you. You get scored in each of the categories: objections, direct-examination, cross-examination and then if you do an opening or closing. I was an attorney for both the prosecution and the plaintiff so I had a closing for plaintiff and a closing for defense and then a direct for plaintiff and defense and a cross for plaintiff and defense.
What do you think is your strongest area?
People say I’m pretty good at closing and objections, so I’m thinking that’s where I did best.
What does winning the award mean to you?
It means a lot. I have been trying to get it since freshman year when I first had my attorney role and I’ve been working really hard for it because it’s an honor to get it. It means you’ve put a lot of work into it and you’ve done a lot of prepping.
What are your college plans?
Part of me wants to go with a liberal arts college and get a good degree for law and then get my engineering degree and another part of me wants to go to the School of Mines or MIT and get my chemical engineering degree and then go to law school, but I haven’t decided yet.
What do you like about CEC?
I really like this school. I like that you get to take college classes in high school. That’s great. I want to get the foundation classes out of the way when I can take them for free and not pay a lot of money to get my general ed classes. And I like the career classes because you get to see different careers. When I came here I wanted to do criminal justice and forensics and then I got into law and I changed my mind completely and thought maybe I liked law a little better and now I’m interested in patent law specifically. It helps you find out what you like doing. I took a semester of Criminal Justice and it wasn’t quite what I wanted so I went into the law class.
How do you think CEC has prepared you for your future?
Well, like I said, they’ve prepared me as far as knowing what I want to do is concerned and you get a lot of help with colleges. I mean, Mr. Balan came up to me the other day and asked me where I wanted to go to school and he gave me some tips for starting to talk to them and getting myself known to colleges. The ACT prep is also helpful because you want to get a good score on the ACT to get into college. It’s a lot of preparation with the college classes because it’s showing you what it’s like in college. It’s not that you’re just taking a high school class that’s honors, you’re actually taking a college class and you get to see what it’s like.
How many credits do you think you will have when you graduate?
I think I will end this school year (junior year) with 24 credits and I still have next year when I’ll probably take a full load of college classes, which is really cool. I’m excited. The colleges we’ve been talking to say that I would either come in as a sophomore or a freshman transfer and that I wouldn’t have to take those general classes there and could move on to the classes for my actual major.