03/20/2021 Mock Trial, Black Squad ORCS

Seven members of Purdue's mock trial team, also known as the Black squad, made it to the opening round championship series this season. 

One of Purdue Mock Trial Club’s squads recently competed in the Opening Round Championship Series, making it one of the few schools in the tournament without a law school.

ORCS is the competition in late March right before nationals, said Domenic Sciortino, senior in the Krannert School of Management. It’s not quite the crown jewel, but it’s the biggest event before nationals.

“This may be a hot take, but I think it’s interesting that we were able to advance (to ORCS) without a law school,” Sciortino said. “Many schools that compete at a high level have law schools, lots of pre-law students and try to shape and mold law students. We don’t, so that’s a testament to our school.”

The squad advanced to ORCS after competing in regionals but didn’t initially know if it would qualify, said Sciortino, also the team’s treasurer and a founding member.

The top six teams at regionals advanced to ORCS, and Purdue’s squad tied for sixth with two other squads so it became a wildcard team, Sciortino said. Later, the squad found out it was selected to advance.

After winning four all-regional witness awards this year, one of the highest-scoring awards, Sciortino said he was relieved to finish his mock trial career spanning six years between high school and college on a high note. He thought the team’s season would end after regionals. He said he was excited to see how he will stack up against bigger competition at ORCS.

Although the club didn’t advance to nationals, making it to ORCS at only three years old is an impressive accomplishment, said Caroline Dischner, mock trial president, squad captain and sophomore.

ORCS is different from regional and invitational competitions, Sciortino said, because the teams there are cut from a “completely different cloth.” He emphasized the high caliber of squads they competed against, such as Northwestern University and the University of Michigan.

With COVID-19 restrictions, all mock trial practices and competitions were virtual this season, Dischner said.

Since a large part of mock trial is performance, it thrives on team chemistry and a live audience, Sciortino said. It took the squad members a little while to bond, but after getting a trial or two under their belts, they formed a camaraderie that helped them advance to ORCS.

The majority of students in the mock trial club are planning on going to law school, but a few aren’t, said Dischner, a student in the College of Engineering. The team has a healthy mix of students with different academic backgrounds, and she said that helps them do well.

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