Empire & You: The Right Fit?

Over the past decade, Empire has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for thousands of high school students from across the globe. The experience involves a 3-5 month journey where students work with their advisers to prepare for the competition. Our students benefit immensely from their time at Empire because they work so tirelessly to excel in the courtroom.

Though we believe strongly in our programs, we admit that Empire is not for every school or mock trial team. It requires an adviser (or advisers) that can assist with trial prep, fundraising and logistics. That same person, or persons, must be willing to work during the months of June to August, and chaperone an overnight trip spanning 3 nights (at least). Likewise, it requires a group of students whose work ethic is unparalleled. They must be motivated by a love of learning and a desire to push themselves intellectually; otherwise, the rigor of preparing for Empire may be overwhelming.

Additionally, your school should be comfortable discussing complex social issues with its students. Our cases are topical and thought provoking. Prior cases have centered around police brutality, religious extremism and mass incarceration. While the case’s legal issues are balanced, we often invite speakers to address a specific social issue that we believe is important for the students to learn about (e.g. why the incarceration rate in the U.S. is so high, or what we can do to combat discrimination against religious minorities). If you would like to talk to us about this year’s case topic—or have questions about how to introduce an Empire case to your team—please do not hesitate to contact us.

Finally, before deciding to submit an application, please read this site carefully. Everything you need to know is listed below: a summary of relevant rules, competition schedules, participation costs, and payment deadlines. New teams are sometimes surprised that our rules are unlike their local tournament, and that some of our payments are due during the months of June to August. At Empire, we pride ourselves on our customer service; we will be here to help guide you through the registration process from start to finish. Please never hesitate to reach out!

If you are reading this, then you care about mock trial and, most importantly, care about your students. On behalf of the entire Empire Family, we are grateful for the time that you invest in young people. We hope that you decide that Empire is the right fit for you!

COMPETITION OVERVIEW

Empire’s one-of-a-kind mock trial competition is at the core of its programs. To create the type of rigor that we desire, Empire has rules and procedures that are more challenging than most local competitions. They also differ from the National High School Mock Trial Competition (“NHSMTC”). The key points are summarized below but accepted teams should review all rules before competing.

4

4 TRIALS

You are guaranteed to compete in at least four (4) trials.

Two (2) rounds Two (2) rounds
as as
Plaintiff/Prosecution Defense
  • You cannot get eliminated from the competition.
  • You compete in one of two (2) divisions. A division is comprised of half the field in the tournament.
  • The top team in each division after four (4) trials faces off in the final against the other division’s top team.
6-7

6 OR 7 STUDENTS PER TEAM PER TRIAL New

Each team must field either 6 or 7 different students per trial: 3 witnesses and either 3 or 4 attorneys. Starting in 2018, teams may decide whether to field 3 or 4 attorneys in a trial, which will determine whether you have 6 or 7 students compete in a trial. Judges will be instructed not to draw any inferences, either positive or negative, from the number of students your team chooses to field.

Like in 2017, the case will consist of 4 witness statements per side. You will be required to call the witness designated as the “GW” (or Guest Witness); otherwise, you are free to call the lineup that you feel is best suited for your case and personnel.

Click on one of the options below to find out more about Empire role assignments, including how the 3 or 4 person attorney structure works.

Attorney Role Assignment

In designing this set of rules, our goal is simple: to ensure that teams are dividing the workload evenly amongst their attorneys. We believe that this is crucial from both an educational and competitive perspective.
For purposes of the below rules, here are a couple of definitions to keep in mind:

  • Speech refers to the pre-trial oral argument (“POA”), opening statement or closing argument.
  • Exam refers to either a direct or a cross examination.

3 Attorneys
If you opt to field 3 attorneys in a trial, then the rules are easy: each attorney will be responsible for delivering one speech, one direct exam and one cross exam. There is no flexibility.

4 Attorneys
This is where it gets a bit more complicated. If you decide to field 4 attorneys in a trial, then you have more to consider. See below:

  1. An attorney cannot perform more than one speech per side. This means that 3 of your attorneys will be delivering a speech on a given side, and 1 attorney will not be. Please note that this rule does not preclude an attorney from giving a speech on both the plaintiff/prosecution and the defense.
  2. The attorney who does not give a speech must conduct one direct and one cross–no more, no less. You cannot have the student who is not giving a speech deliver one exam.
  3. Each attorney must conduct at least one exam. You can’t let a speech-giving attorney focus solely on their speech.
  4. No attorney may conduct more than one direct or more than one cross. You can’t have a “specialist” who handles multiple directs or multiple crosses.
  5. The attorney delivering the pre-trial oral argument (“POA”) may not direct the Guest Witness (“GW”). This is because the GW will be preparing their direct exam with their directing attorney during the POA. Hence, it’s not physically possible for the GW directing attorney to also do the POA! Read more about the Guest Witness here.

Confused yet? Don’t be. Your final assignments will look like this:

3 Attorneys

3 Attorneys
A = Attorney
Speech = POA, Opening, Closing

A1

Speech
Direct
Cross

A2

Speech
Direct
Cross

A3

Speech
Direct
Cross

4 Attorneys
A = Attorney
Speech = POA, Opening, Closing

A1

Speech
Direct
Cross

A2

Speech
Direct or Cross

A3

Speech
Direct or Cross

A4

Direct
Cross

THE PARTY REPRESENTATIVE

  • The party representative. You may have an additional rostered student (so not one of the competing attorneys/witnesses) serve as a non-testifying party representative and sit at counsel table during the trial. A non-testifying party representative will not be scored.
    • Ex: Our 2015 case featured a police department as a defendant in a civil action. Some defense teams elected to sit the defendant’s party representative, the Police Chief, at counsel table during the trial but did not call him/her to testify.

Questions? Comments? Please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.

28

28 STUDENTS PER TEAM

Your team may consist of up to 28 students. That means you may have seven (7) different students compete in each of the four trials (though this is rarely done).

A standard registration package covers a team of 14 people. You would incur an additional cost for bringing a team that exceeds that number. Read more about costs >

15

15 MINUTE PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE

As of 2016, this replaced the “Captains’ Meeting.”

Representatives from your team will meet approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of your round for a Pre-Trial Conference, which will take place in your assigned courtroom. Your representatives will announce their witness lineup, complete relevant forms and show any enlarged exhibits or demonstratives to their opponent. This meeting is unrelated to the Pre-Trial Oral Argument.

Note: Teams are permitted to enlarge exhibits and create their own demonstratives subject to our rules of procedure.

Demonstrative Aids.

Excerpted from the 2018 Competition Rulebook.

Rule 4.7. Demonstrative Aids.

  1. General Rule. Teams are permitted and encouraged to use a demonstrative aid (“demo”) or aids (“demos”) to augment their trial testimony.
  2. Demonstrative Classification. A demo can be something provided by Empire or may be an original creation.
    1. Empire Provided. The following demos are permissible:
      1. Enlargement of any case packet material.
      2. A tangible physical object.
    2. Original Demonstratives.
      1. Requirements. Teams may create an original demonstrative provided the following:
        1. It is not hazardous, barred by courthouse rules or potentially damaging to persons or property.
        2. It does not introduce material facts that a team would not be permitted to introduce through witness testimony or Empire-provided documents. See Rule 4.15.
        3. It does not create a risk of liquid spillage in a courtroom.
      2. Pre-Approval. Teams may receive pre-approval for their original demos by e-mailing a description to: tab@empiremocktrial.org. [1]
    3. Electronic Demonstrative Aids. The use of an electronic demonstrative aid, not provided by Empire, is prohibited with the exception of a laser pointer.
  3. Demonstrative Use at Trial.
    1. Availability to Opposing Counsel. If used, a demo must be made available to the opposing attorneys for subsequent use during examination of witnesses and closing argument.
    2. Writing on Exhibits. The team introducing the demonstrative aid decides whether it will be written on. If so, then the opposing team may also write on it, although they may not remove any of the introducing team’s markings.
    3. Evidence Restricted to Case Packet. Only materials provided in the case packet may be offered into evidence. An original demonstrative, as defined above, cannot be offered into evidence.
    4. Rule 4.7 Does Not Preclude Objections. These rules are procedural; they do not bar a team from raising an evidentiary objection under the FRE to the admissibility of a particular demonstrative.
  4. Authority of Tab Director is Absolute. Restrictions imposed on the use of a demonstrative aid by a Tab Director must be honored, as failure to do so is grounds for a tournament penalty given at the discretion of a Tab Director.
  5. Defacing Prohibited. Permanently defacing an opponent’s demonstrative aid is not permitted. “Permanent defacing” refers to any writing that destroys the integrity of the demonstrative or the ability of a team to use its demonstrative in future rounds.

Comment to Rule 4.7 (2)(b): No demonstrative aid may purport to depict a particular person, particular place, or particular thing unless it has been provided with or is specifically permitted by the case materials. For example, “a skull” is not a “particular thing,” but “the victim’s skull” is. Similarly, a photo of a station wagon is not a particular thing, but it would be if described as a photo of the defendant’s vehicle or the particular make and/or model of the defendant’s vehicle. Lists, charts, graphs, etc. may be used to summarize, combine or illustrate facts that are already present in the case packet.


[1] While pre-approval is not required, it is encouraged to ensure that a team does not invest money on a demo that they cannot use.

55

55 MINUTE TRIAL TIME LIMIT

At Empire, we give you 10 minutes for the pre-trial oral argument and 55 minutes to present the rest of your case. Want to spend 5 minutes on an eye-witness direct but 10 minutes on your expert direct? Not a problem. How about 20 minutes on your defense directs but 30 minutes on your crosses? That’s fine by us. Just make sure to stay within your 55 minutes.

Our time limits give you the creativity to present your case in the manner that you see fit. But with great power, comes great responsibility. Students must stay alert during their trials to ensure that time isn’t misallocated. For example, if a cross takes longer than anticipated, your students will have to adapt. The ability to use your time effectively and adapt to events that occur in trial is part of what we’re looking to test.

TRIAL

55 minutes

  • The “clock” will start when a speech or examination begins, and end when a speech or examination ends.
  • The “clock” will stop during objection arguments.
  • A team that runs out of time will not be permitted to present any further examinations or speeches. A judge will give a score of “0” for any unperformed examination or speech.

PRE-TRIAL

    • We have outlined the Empire Mock Trial Pre-Trial timekeeping rules in this section. Please let us know if you have any questions.


Rebuttal

      • If the moving party would like to rebut, they must reserve a specific amount of time (up to 4 minutes) before beginning their initial argument.


Uninterrupted Introduction: 1.5 minutes New

      • Students have 1.5 minutes (90 seconds) to deliver an uninterrupted introduction, after which point a judge may begin questioning the student.


Main Argument: 8.5 minutes

      • Students then have up to 8.5 minutes to present their main argument. Note that time reserved for rebuttal will be deducted from the 8.5 minutes.
      • The judge may ask questions during this entire period.


Expiration of time when mid-sentence or mid-response

    • If time is called, and the moving party is in the middle of making an argument, or a judge is in the middle of asking a question, a courtesy period of up to 1 minute bay be requested by the advocate or invoked by the court sua sponte (i.e. The court is not required to grant the advocate’s request).
      • Ex: “Your Honor, I’d like to finish answering this question, but I see that my time has expired. May I request additional time, up to one minute, to complete my answer?”
    • Any time that is used by the moving party during the courtesy period shall be added to the amount of time allotted for the non-moving party’s argument.
      • Ex: In the above example, if the moving party uses 45 seconds of the courtesy period, her adversary now has 10:45 for her argument.
    • The non-moving party is given the same option of requesting a courtesy period.
      • Ex: In the above example, time is called at 10:45. The non-moving party may request up to 1 minute to wrap up her argument.
    • Any time that is used by the non-moving party during the courtesy period shall be added to the amount of time allotted for the moving party’s rebuttal.
      • Ex: In the above example, if the non-moving party uses 11:15 of her time, 30 extra seconds into her ‘courtesy period’, then the moving party may have an extra 30 seconds to rebut.
16

16 SCORING CATEGORIES

Each trial will feature 2-3 judges who will score you in 16 different categories using a 1-10 scale.

+ 3X – Speeches – pre-trial, opening, closing
+ 3X – Attorney on direct
+ 3X – Attorney on cross
+ 3X – Witness on direct (one of which comes from your guest witness in another trial)
+ 3X – Witness on cross (one of which comes from your guest witness in another trial)
+ 1X – “Extemp” – team’s overall ability to adapt to a trial and to raise / respond to objections

= 16 categories

EXTEMP SCORES

What is an Extemp Score?

The above has been excerpted from the Empire Competition Rulebook.

In awarding an Extemp score, a judge will assess a team’s ability to master the following skills:

  • Raise timely and appropriate objections;
  • Respond to objections with poise;
  • Answer the presiding judge’s questions during the POA articulately and coherently;
  • Incorporate trial testimony and evidence into examinations and closings, particularly if the incorporation seems unique, extemporaneous and organic;
  • Rebut a substantive point made by an adversary at trial; and;
  • Handle adversity with poise and maturity.

It be will be conveyed to judges that a team isn’t required to raise objections. If there are no objections to be raised, then a team should not be penalized; rather, they should be commended for their discretion. We do believe, however, that such occasions are a rarity.

8 or 12

8 or 12 BALLOT RECORD

Your record at Empire will be out of 8 or 12 wins.

There are three primary categories that drive a team’s record at a Empire: wins (# of ballots captured), strength of schedule (quality of your opponents) and point differential (the margin of your wins and losses). If two (2) teams have the same number of wins, then we’ll break the tie by looking at strength of schedule (SOS); if two teams (2) have the same number of wins and SOS points, we’ll look at PD. Tied ballots are allowed and will count as ½ of a win.

RECORDS


Wins (Ballots)
Number of ballots captured.

  • Your record is based on the # of ballots (scorecards) your team wins, not “round wins.”
    • Ex: If you win 2 out of 3 ballots in round 1, then your record is 2-1, not 1-0.
  • If your Empire competition features two (2) judges per round, then your record is out of eight (8).
    • 4 rounds X 2 ballots per round = 8
  • If your Empire competition features three (3) judges per round, then your record is out of twelve (12).
    • 4 rounds X 3 ballots per round = 12

Strength of Schedule (SOS)
Strength of your schedule.

  • To calculate SOS, we look at the number of ballots that your opponents have captured.
  • We keep a running tally of your SOS throughout the competition, which you can view.
  • Ex: At the end of four (4) rounds, you’ve faced Teams X, Y, Z & Q who have captured 5, 7, 9 & 10 ballots, respectively. That means your total SOS is 31 (the sum of their wins).

Point Differential (PD)
The margin of your wins / losses.

  • A twenty (20) point win is more impressive than a five (5) point win. When breaking a tie, point differential provides us with a way to reward teams with higher win margins.
  • We keep a running tally of your PD throughout the competition, which you can view.
  • Ex: In Round 1, you won two (2) ballots by 5 points and 10 points, respectively, and lost one (1) ballot by 20 points. That means your PD is -5 (5+10-20) after Round 1.

Empire will use additional tie-breakers if two (2) teams have identical records (after considering the above criteria). If you’re interested in learning more, please send us an e-mail!

PAIRINGS

  • Round 1: The Challenge System. We use a fun challenge system to determine your round 1 opponent. Half of the teams get to select their opponent while the other half get to select their side. You’ll learn your placement in the challenge order a few hours prior to the Opening Ceremony.
    • Note: Each competition features two divisions. You will only be able to face/challenge a team in your own division.
  • Rounds 2-4: Power Pairings. For the rest of the tournament, we use a power pairing system that considers your team’s record at the competition (based on W, SOS, PD). The one caveat is that you can never play the same team twice (such a pairing would be considered a conflict). Here’s a brief rundown of what that looks like:
    • Round 2 – Your team will need to flip sides for Round 1 (i.e. if you were just P, you’ll go on the D in Round 2). We rank all teams that need to go P and D and then pair them high-high.
    • Round 3 – This is a pure power match-up. We rank all the teams in the competition and then pair them high-high. We flip a coin to decide your side.
    • Round 4 – We go back to the Round 2 method of pairing. We rank all the teams that must go P and D (i.e. if you went as P in Round 3, then you’re D in Round 4, vice versa) and then we pair teams high-high.

Individual & Team Awards

  • Outstanding Individuals. The number of attorney and witness awards we give out depends on the size of our competition. It can range from 10-15 awards for each attorney and 10-15 awards for each witness.
    • Per side. Honors are calculated and awarded on a per side basis. For example, a student may win an award for their work as an outstanding plaintiff/prosecution attorney or defense attorney, but the “points” they earn for their plaintiff/prosecution work won’t count toward their defense performance and vice versa. The same applies for witnesses.
      1. Criteria. Judges score students and then we analyze those scores to determine, among other things, individual award winners. Our outstanding competitor formula looks at three factors:
        1. Comparison of your student’s score(s) to the average score(s) in the round for their respective role (i.e. attorney or witness);
        2. Relative strength of your team (we look at ballots and SOS);
        3. Number of nominations your student receives from a judge (each judge is required to nominate one person as the top attorney or witness in the round)
  • Team Awards. The top 10-15 teams are honored at the Empire closing ceremony. The team in each division with the best record then advances to the Championship Round, where they face off against the top team from the other division.

GUEST WITNESS

Guest Witness (“GW”) 101

Your team will call 1 Guest Witness (“GW”) per trial.

What does the term Guest Witness (or GW) mean?

A GW is a student from another school who competes with your team for one trial, and a student from your team that competes for another school for one trial. You’ll still call three witnesses per round, except one of them will be played by a student from a different school from the opposite division. GW attorneys and witnesses meet right before trial, and then prepare their directs during the oral arguments.

How many students do we prepare to be GWs? Are there any rules restricting who can play a GW?

New Minimum 2, maximum 4. A student may not play the GW on both the plaintiff/prosecution and defense. But unlike last year, the same student can play the same GW role in more than one trial. For example, Sally can serve as the defense GW in Rounds 1 and 3.

How much time do we have to prepare our GWs? Where do we do it? And when do we do it?

Your GW directing attorney has 20 minutes to prepare her witness. We’ll either designate a room for you to prep or you can use the hallway. The prep takes place during the Pre-Trial Oral Argument (“POA”). Since the POA attorney can’t be in two places at once, they may not direct the GW!

How do we know which character in the case is the GW? Do you tell us?

Yes, we do. We’ll designate the GW witness statements in the case file (e.g. Joe Smith is the P GW and John Doe is the D GW), and you’ll be required to call those witnesses to the stand. While you will prep students to portray Smith and Doe for the tournament, they’ll never actually compete as those roles in your trial. Rather, they’ll always be witnesses (GWs) in a trial for other schools.

When do we find out which student is our GW, and where our GWs will be competing?

15 minutes before trial. On the schedule pages, you’ll see that the GW Introduction takes place 15 minutes before the start of trial. Your GW and GW directing attorneys will attend that meeting. Once all teams check-in, we will announce the GW assignments for the round. We want to make sure that every team has the same amount of time to prep their GW.

What if the GW assigned to my trial doesn’t try, because her performance impacts my team, and not hers?

Good news: their score counts toward their own ballot, not yours. Likewise, your team’s GW’s performance counts toward your ballot. We take the average direct and cross score of your GW (i.e. your student competing in another trial), and add it to your ballot for the trial. We’ll do the same for the GW in your round. Furthermore, we have never received a report that a GW didn’t try their best in a trial.

PAIRING GUEST WITNESSES

Travel in Pairs
All GWs travel to other rounds together in pairs—no one is alone! So, if you’re facing Team Toby on the Defense, then your Defense GW (i.e. the student on your team casted as the Defense GW) will be assigned to another trial along with Team Toby’s Plaintiff/Prosecution GW. This is the lynchpin of the GW system as it ensures that the same judges are scoring both witnesses from your trial (i.e. the same judges are scoring both Team Toby’s witness and yours—what we care about is relative scores rather than absolute values).

All Empire competitions feature two (2) divisions. Your GWs will be assigned to a trial in a different division. The assignment will be done by a computer algorithm, which will consider your overall record at the tournament and any potential conflicts.

The assignment system is complex, and we are happy to answer questions about it. Just know that our goal is to ensure that your GW is not directed and crossed by the same student in more than one trial, while rewarding teams that are doing well at the competition with GWs from schools that are performing equally well.

PRE-TRIAL

Pre-Trial Oral Argument (“POA”)

One student from your team will present an oral argument prior to the start of trial.

Background

Two years ago, we introduced the Pre-Trial Evidentiary Argument (PEA) to challenge students to think analytically and argue extemporaneously, while learning about motion practice. Students argued a motion to suppress (2016) and motion in limine (2017) based on a particular piece of evidence in the case; the judge’s ruling impacted the admissibility of the evidence at trial.

Expanding the Oral Argument New

Moving forward, we have decided to expand the scope of the oral argument. Students may be faced with a motion that is not tied to a particular piece of evidence in the case, like a motion for summary judgment or motion to dismiss. We are not eliminating the possibility that your oral argument could involve a piece of evidence in the case; we are just no longer placing that restriction on the Case Committee.

Timing

Each side has 10 minutes for their oral argument, plus any courtesy time granted by the Court.

Parties are given 90 seconds of uninterrupted time in which they can summarize their argument. Judges are free to ask questions after 90 seconds has expired.

Read more about POA timing at the end of this section.

Materials

In preparing their argument, advocates will be given the following:

  • Exhibit in question (where applicable);
  • Motion raised by the moving party;
  • Opposition to movant’s motion;
  • Relevant case law – Includes excerpts from judicial opinions.

The problem is closed universe. A team may not introduce outside statutes or case law.

Impact of Ruling

After oral arguments, the judge will take a 2-3 minute break to evaluate the presentations and weigh the legal issues.

The judge will then announce a ruling. Where the issues involves a piece of evidence in the case, the judge’s ruling will impact the admissibility of the exhibit at trial. Where the issue is unrelated to an exhibit, then the trial will simply proceed.

After the POA, Guest Witnesses (GWs) and GW directing attorneys will be asked to return to the courtroom.

Responsibility of POA Attorney

The POA Attorney is required to conduct at least one examination (a direct or cross) in addition to delivering the oral argument.

They may not direct the GW on the side in which they’re delivering the POA.
Read more about how to divide your attorney speeches and examinations at the end of this section.

PRE-TRIAL ORAL ARGUMENT

What happens during this argument? And will the judges ask questions?
For most of the time, yes. Students will have 3 minutes to present their argument uninterrupted but after that the presiding judge will ask questions—they will be instructed to do so.

Will students know the judge’s questions in advance of the argument?
No, that’s why the student needs to really understand their argument. Since responding to questions will be part of the exercise, we expect students to prepare for pre-trial by answering questions from their coaches and peers on the topic. Real lawyers can’t rehearse every contingency, neither will our pre-trial attorneys.

How long do teams have to make their argument?
The entire argument may last up to 10 minutes.

In the past, trials could last up to 3 hours. Does this mean that trials are longer now?
No. We will not be extending all-loss times for rounds; Teams will still have only 3 hours to complete their trials.
For teams returning from Empire 2016: In 2016 Empire extended trials’ all-loss time by 30 minutes to allow for the Pre-Trial Oral Argument. Please note that this time extension does not apply in 2018.

What type of materials will students be given to prepare their arguments?
The case materials will include the exhibit at issue, the motion in limine raised by the moving party, the other side’s response to the motion, a list of relevant cases, and the criteria that judges will use to evaluate their performance.

What happens after the argument is over?
Both sides take 5 minutes to chat about the impact of the court’s ruling and then you start with housekeeping matters (introductions, etc).

Which of the attorneys is making the argument? The one not opening or closing?
A fourth attorney for your team should be assigned to do pre-trial.

California has a well established pre-trial system where a student is assigned to do pre-trial only (i.e. she/he isn’t permitted to conduct a direct or cross). Will Empire be the same?
No, our rules are different. Here’s a brief summary. An attorney can’t perform more than one speech (pre-trial, opening, closing) and the middle attorney (the one not giving a speech) is required to do one direct and one cross. The rest of the directs and crosses will be divided among the three speech giving attorneys with one caveat: you can’t have an attorney perform more than one direct or more than one cross.

Sound confusing? It’s not. And, here’s what your lineup will look like:

A = Attorney Speech = Pre-trial, Opening, Closing

A1

Speech
Direct
Cross

A2

Speech
Direct or Cross

A3

Speech
Cross or Direct

A4

Direct
Cross

It’s up to you to determine which student delivers which statement and which examination(s) (i.e. A1 can be the pre-trial, opener or closer in the above diagram).

What’s the rationale for adding an attorney and for dividing the speeches in the way you just proposed?
We want to more inclusive. We like the idea of adding an attorney to the competition and a student to the roster. That means the minimum number of competitors per team is now 7.

Regarding the role assignments, we started by saying that we don’t want the middle to be excluded. So, the middle had to get two examinations (direct/cross). We then said that we don’t want to have a direct or cross specialist—i.e. one attorney can’t do two directs or two crosses. Everything else then fell into place.

How is Empire going to make sure that teams are prepared for pre-trial, which is new to many teams?
We’re going to provide a sample pre-trial argument for all participants: both written materials and a video of Empire staff (or alums) arguing it (we’re still finalizing the details). We’ll also offer a couple of pre-trial webinars to answer questions.

Why introduce pre-trial?
Let me start by saying that we’re always trying to improve the experience that we provide for students. It doesn’t matter how many years we’re around, that will never change.

There are two reasons we’re adding pre-trial. First, it’s a crucial element of actual trial practice in the U.S. So many issues that arise in mock trial are actually dealt with in pre-trial. Adding pre-trial makes our trials more realistic and introduces many students to a new aspect of the legal system.

Second, it provides the type of intellectual rigor for students that we feel is necessary for our competition to be a success tool for educational growth and development. Pre-trial attorneys will have to engage with difficult material, synthesize it, and be able to present it effectively to their judges. When judges question them, they’ll also be required to argue extemporaneously—something that we want to continue to emphasize with our competitions.

PRE-TRIAL

    • We have outlined the Empire Mock Trial Pre-Trial timekeeping rules in this section. Please let us know if you have any questions.


Rebuttal

      • If the moving party would like to rebut, they must reserve a specific amount of time (up to 4 minutes) before beginning their initial argument.


Uninterrupted Introduction: 1.5 minutes New

      • Students have 1.5 minutes (90 seconds) to deliver an uninterrupted introduction, after which point a judge may begin questioning the student.


Main Argument: 8.5 minutes

      • Students then have up to 8.5 minutes to present their main argument. Note that time reserved for rebuttal will be deducted from the 8.5 minutes.
      • The judge may ask questions during this entire period.

      a


Expiration of time when mid-sentence or mid-response

    • If time is called, and the moving party is in the middle of making an argument, or a judge is in the middle of asking a question, a courtesy period of up to 1 minute bay be requested by the advocate or invoked by the court sua sponte (i.e. The court is not required to grant the advocate’s request).
      • Ex: “Your Honor, I’d like to finish answering this question, but I see that my time has expired. May I request additional time, up to one minute, to complete my answer?”
    • Any time that is used by the moving party during the courtesy period shall be added to the amount of time allotted for the non-moving party’s argument.
      • Ex: In the above example, if the moving party uses 45 seconds of the courtesy period, her adversary now has 10:45 for her argument.
    • The non-moving party is given the same option of requesting a courtesy period.
      • Ex: In the above example, time is called at 10:45. The non-moving party may request up to 1 minute to wrap up her argument.
    • Any time that is used by the non-moving party during the courtesy period shall be added to the amount of time allotted for the moving party’s rebuttal.
      • Ex: In the above example, if the non-moving party uses 11:15 of her time, 30 extra seconds into her ‘courtesy period’, then the moving party may have an extra 30 seconds to rebut.

Attorney Role Assignment

In designing this set of rules, our goal is simple: to ensure that teams are dividing the workload evenly amongst their attorneys. We believe that this is crucial from both an educational and competitive perspective.
For purposes of the below rules, here are a couple of definitions to keep in mind:

  • Speech refers to the pre-trial oral argument (“POA”), opening statement or closing argument.
  • Exam refers to either a direct or a cross examination.

3 Attorneys
If you opt to field 3 attorneys in a trial, then the rules are easy: each attorney will be responsible for delivering one speech, one direct exam and one cross exam. There is no flexibility.

4 Attorneys
This is where it gets a bit more complicated. If you decide to field 4 attorneys in a trial, then you have more to consider. See below:

  1. An attorney cannot perform more than one speech per side. This means that 3 of your attorneys will be delivering a speech on a given side, and 1 attorney will not be. Please note that this rule does not preclude an attorney from giving a speech on both the plaintiff/prosecution and the defense.
  2. The attorney who does not give a speech must conduct one direct and one cross–no more, no less. You cannot have the student who is not giving a speech deliver one exam.
  3. Each attorney must conduct at least one exam. You can’t let a speech-giving attorney focus solely on their speech.
  4. No attorney may conduct more than one direct or more than one cross. You can’t have a “specialist” who handles multiple directs or multiple crosses.
  5. The attorney delivering the pre-trial oral argument (“POA”) may not direct the Guest Witness (“GW”). This is because the GW will be preparing their direct exam with their directing attorney during the POA. Hence, it’s not physically possible for the GW directing attorney to also do the POA! Read more about the Guest Witness here.

Confused yet? Don’t be. Your final assignments will look like this:

3 Attorneys

3 Attorneys
A = Attorney
Speech = POA, Opening, Closing

A1

Speech
Direct
Cross

A2

Speech
Direct
Cross

A3

Speech
Direct
Cross

4 Attorneys
A = Attorney
Speech = POA, Opening, Closing

A1

Speech
Direct
Cross

A2

Speech
Direct or Cross

A3

Speech
Direct or Cross

A4

Direct
Cross

TIMEKEEPING

The timekeeper must be a rostered student. You may have an additional student who is not competing in the given round serve as a timekeeper (our preference). But you may also use one of your competing students (one of the 7) as a timekeeper.

A person who is not on your roster may not serve as a timekeeper—so a coach, chaperone and/or family member may not timekeep.

SCHEDULE

Empire Competitions feature challenging trials, memorable ceremonies, the opportunity to participate in a public serve project, and plenty of time for students to engage with their host city.

We require teams to attend our opening and closing ceremony but all other Empire events are optional. So if you’re competing in New York and decide to plan a team dinner in Times Square instead of attending the harbor cruise—that’s fine by us. Likewise, if you’re competing in Atlanta and decide to plan an extra scrimmage instead of the Experience Event—then that’s okay, too. Each student has its own unique Empire experience that is shaped by their school. That’s part of what makes the experience special.

The schedules listed below are tentative and subject to change. Some Empire teams, particularly those from our international family, elect to arrive on the Tuesday or Wednesday prior to the competition to sightsee.

Dates
September 21 – 24, 2018
Trial Venue

Georgia World Congress Center
285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW
Hotel

Embassy Suites by Hilton
267 Marietta Street NW

Dates
October 26 – 29, 2018
Trial Venue

San Francisco Superior Court
400 McAllister Street
Hotel

Parc 55 Hilton
55 Cyril Magnin Street

Dates
November 16 – 19, 2018
Trial Venue

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
500 Pearl Street
Hotel

Crowne Plaza Times Square
1605 Broadway

The Battle by the Bay

October 26 – 29

Trial Venue
San Francisco Superior Court
400 McAllister Street

Hotel
Parc 55 Hilton
55 Cyril Magnin Street

Thursday, October 25

All Day
Scrimmage rooms available
Parc 55

9:00 AM – 11:30 PM
Empire Public Service Project- Glide Memorial – Lunch Prep (available for 15 students)
Glide Memorial, 330 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
We will prepare lunch to be served the homeless.

11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Empire Public Service Project- Glide Memorial – Serve Lunch (available for 25 students)
Glide Memorial, 330 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
We will serve lunch to the homeless.

5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Dinner Cruise
Cruise is subject to demand.

Friday, October 26

7:00 AM – 1:45 PM
Scrimmage rooms available
Parc 55

9:00 AM – 11:30 PM
Empire Public Service Project- Glide Memorial – Lunch Prep (available for 15 students)
Glide Memorial, 330 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
We will prepare lunch to be served the homeless.

11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Empire Public Service Project- Glide Memorial – Serve Lunch (available for 25 students)
Glide Memorial, 330 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
We will serve lunch to the homeless.

2:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Opening Ceremony
Cyril Magnin Ballroom
Parc 55

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Blue Carpet Entrance

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Ceremony

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Empire Exchange & Coaches’ Meeting

5:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Ground Rules & Challenge Order

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Dinner
Two students will pick up dinner from a designated room. Food may be eaten in a team’s sleeping rooms only; it may not be consumed in the lobby or a conference room.

Saturday, October 27

8:15 AM – 9:30 AM
Report to Staging Area at Hotel

Teams will take shuttle buses to travel to the Courthouse.
Teams will be assigned a report time, a group and group leader.

9:00 AM – 10:20 AM
Teams arrive at Court

10:30 AM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 1
10:30 AM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

10:45 AM – 1:45 PM
Round 1
Oral arguments will begin at 10:45 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

10:45 AM – 11:05 AM
Guest Witness (“GW”) Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

1:45 PM – 3:15 PM
Lunch
Cafeteria, 2nd Floor

3:15 PM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 2
3:15 PM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Round 2
Oral arguments will begin at 3:30 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

3:30 PM – 3:50 PM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

As soon as possible
Check-in with Empire for transport
Cafeteria, 2nd Floor

Teams should advise Empire whether they’d like to travel back to the hotel unaccompanied, or with an Empire group leader.
Teams should NOT leave the Courthouse without checking in with Empire first.

Sunday, October 28

8:15 AM – 9:30 AM
Report to Staging Area at Hotel

Teams will take a shuttle bus to the Courthouse.
Teams will be assigned a report time, a group and group leader.

9:00 AM – 10:20 AM
Teams arrive at Court

10:30 AM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 3
10:30 AM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

10:45 AM – 1:45 PM
Round 3
Oral arguments will begin at 10:45 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

10:45 AM – 11:05 AM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

1:45 PM – 3:15 PM
Lunch
Cafeteria, 2nd Floor

3:15 PM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 4
3:15 PM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Round 4
Oral arguments will begin at 3:30 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

3:30 PM – 3:50 PM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

As soon as possible
Check-in with Empire for transport
Cafeteria, 2nd Floor

Teams should advise Empire whether they’d like to travel back to the hotel unaccompanied, or with an Empire group leader.
Teams should NOT leave the Courthouse without checking in with Empire first.

8:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Staff & Coach Appreciation Night
Cable Car 55
Parc 55

Student Dance
Cyril Magnin Ballroom
Parc 55

Monday, October 29

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Closing Ceremony
Grand Ballroom
Hilton San Francisco Union Square

11:15 AM – 2:15 PM
Empire San Francisco Championship Round
Ceremonial Moot Courtroom
U.C. Hastings School of Law

2:45 PM
Announcement of Empire San Francisco Champion
Ceremonial Courtroom
U.C. Hastings School of Law

Note: Any team that qualifies to participate in the Championship Round is required to do so.

If you are flying to and from Empire San Francisco, you should not book a return flight departing before 5:00 PM on Monday (10/29).

The World Championship

November 16 – 19

Trial Venue
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Hotel
Crowne Plaza Times Square
1605 Broadway
New York, NY

Thursday, November 15

7:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Scrimmage rooms available
Crowne Plaza Times Square

5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Dinner Cruise
Cruise is subject to demand.

Friday, November 16

7:00 AM – 1:45 PM
Scrimmage Rooms Available

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Empire Public Service Project
Details will be announced later in the year.

2:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Opening Ceremony
Broadway Ballroom
Crowne Plaza Times Square

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Blue Carpet Entrance

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Ceremony

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Empire Exchange & Coaches’ Meeting

5:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Ground Rules & Challenge Order

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Dinner
Two students will pick up dinner from a designated room. Food may be eaten in a team’s sleeping rooms only; it may not be consumed in the lobby or a conference room.

Saturday, November 17

8:15 AM – 9:30 AM
Report to Staging Area at Hotel
T.B.D

Shuttle buses will transport teams between the hotel and the courthouse.
Teams will be assigned a shuttle time, group, and group leader.
Teams will have a different departure time on Saturday and Sunday.

9:00 AM – 10:20 AM
Teams arrive at Court

10:30 AM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 1
10:30 AM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

10:45 AM – 1:45 PM
Round 1
Oral arguments will begin at 10:45 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

10:45 AM – 11:05 AM
Guest Witness (“GW”) Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

1:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Lunch
Cafeteria, 2nd Floor

3:45 PM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 2
3:45 PM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Round 2
Oral arguments will begin at 3:30 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

4:00 PM – 4:20 PM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

As soon as possible
Check-in with Empire for transport
Staging Area

After Round 2, all teams should report to the designated staging area. You will be assigned to a shuttle bus on a first-come-first-served basis for transport back to the hotel.

Sunday, November 18

8:15 AM – 9:30 AM
Report to Staging Area at Hotel
T.B.D

Shuttle buses will transport teams between the hotel and the courthouse.
Teams will be assigned a shuttle time, group, and group leader.
Teams will have a different departure time on Saturday and Sunday.

9:00 AM – 10:20 AM
Teams arrive at Court

10:30 AM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 3
10:30 AM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

10:45 AM – 1:45 PM
Round 3
Oral arguments will begin at 10:45 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

10:45 AM – 11:05 AM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

1:45 PM – 3:15 PM
Lunch
Cafeteria, 2nd Floor

3:45 PM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 4
3:45 PM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Round 4
Oral arguments will begin at 3:30 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

4:00 PM – 4:20 PM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

As soon as possible
Check-in with Empire for transport
Staging Area

After Round 2, all teams should report to the designated staging area. You will be assigned to a shuttle bus on a first-come-first-served basis for transport back to the hotel.

8:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Staff & Coach Appreciation Night
Broadway 49 Lounge
Crowne Plaza Times Square

Student Dance
Times Square Ballroom
Crowne Plaza Times Square

Monday, November 19

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Closing Ceremony
Broadway Ballroom
Crowne Plaza Times Square

11:15 AM – 2:15 PM
Empire New York Championship Round

2:45 PM
Announcement of Empire New York Champion

Note: Any team that qualifies to participate in the Championship Round is required to do so.

If you are flying to and from Empire New York, you should not book a return flight departing before 5:00 PM on Monday (11/19).

The Southern Showdown

September 21 – 24

Trial Venue
Georgia World Congress Center
285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW

Hotel
Embassy Suites by Hilton at Centennial Park

Thursday, September 20

All Day
Scrimmage rooms available

Friday, September 21

7:00 AM – 1:45 PM
Scrimmage Rooms Available

9:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Empire Public Service Project- Safehouse Outreach (available for 25 students)
Safehouse Outreach, 89 Ellis Street NE, Atlanta, GA
We will prepare and serve lunch to the homeless.

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Empire Experience Event- Visit the Georgia Aquarium

12:45 PM – 1:45 PM
Empire Public Service Project- United Way Snack Pack Project (available for all students)
Georgia World Congress Center
We will assemble and decorate snack packs. The packs will be given to children in low income areas whose education is affected by hunger and housing instability.

2:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Opening Ceremony
Georgia World Congress Center

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Blue Carpet Entrance

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Ceremony

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Empire Exchange & Coaches’ Meeting

4:45 PM – 5:30 PM
Ground Rules & Challenge Order

5:30 PM
Dinner
Embassy Suites
Two students will pick up pre-ordered boxed meals from a designated room. Food may be eaten in a team’s sleeping rooms only; it may not be consumed in the lobby or a conference room.

Saturday, September 22

9:30 AM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 1
9:30 AM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

9:45 AM – 12:45 PM
Round 1
Oral arguments will begin at 9:45 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

9:45 AM – 10:05 AM
Guest Witness (“GW”) Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial Oral Argument.

12:45 PM – 2:45 PM
Lunch
Teams are responsible for securing their own lunch.

2:45 PM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 2
2:45 PM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Round 2
Oral arguments will begin at 3:00 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

3:00 PM – 3:20 PM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial Oral Argument.

8:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Student Dance
Legacy Ballroom
Lobby, Embassy Suites

8:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Staff & Coach Appreciation Night
Atrium Bar, Lobby
Embassy Suites

Sunday, September 23

9:30 AM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 3
9:30 AM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

9:45 AM – 12:45 PM
Round 3
Oral arguments will begin at 9:45 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

9:45 AM – 10:05 AM
Guest Witness (“GW”) Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

12:45 PM – 2:45 PM
Lunch
Teams are responsible for securing their own lunch.

2:45 PM
Pre-Trial Conference
Assigned Courtroom for Round 4
2:45 PM
Guest Witness Introduction
Room T.B.D.

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Round 4
Oral arguments will begin at 3:00 while Guest Witnesses are preparing with their attorneys outside of the courtroom (either in a hallway or a separate room).

3:00 PM – 3:20 PM
Guest Witness Preparation
The GW attorney and witness will enter the courtroom after the conclusion of the Pre-Trial
Oral Argument.

6:30 – 7:30 PM
Sunday Night Pizza Dinner
Legacy Ballroom Foyer
Lobby, Embassy Suites

Return to the hotel immediately after Round 4. Grab a few slices of pizza, eat with your team, get changed and then head to the Closing Ceremony!

8:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Closing Ceremony
Georgia World Congress Center

Monday, September 24

9:15 AM – 12:15 PM
Empire Atlanta Championship Round
Venue: T.B.D.

12:45 PM
Announcement of Empire Atlanta Champion

Note: Any team that qualifies to participate in the Championship Round is required to do so.

If you are flying to and from Empire Atlanta, you should not book a return flight departing before 3:00 PM on Monday (9/24).

COSTS & SCHOLARSHIPS

Registration

$2,005 Entrance Fee

for

14 # of attendees

Your registration includes everything listed below for a team of 14.
Click on a box to learn more.

Case & Trials

  • Case & competition materials
  • Rules of evidence & procedure
  • Four (4) trials

Ceremonies

  • Tickets for Opening Ceremony
  • Tickets for Closing Ceremony

Meals

Empire Atlanta

    • Breakfast every morning in Hotel restaurant
    • Dinner after Opening Ceremony
    • Sunday dinner before Closing Ceremony

**Teams are asked to coordinate their own lunches on trial days.**

Empire New York & San Francisco

  • Dinner after Opening Ceremony
  • Saturday lunch
  • Sunday lunch
  • Monday breakfast

Court Shuttle

  • Shuttle to court from hotel (NY, SF)

T-Shirts

  • T-shirts feature your 2018 Competition logo on the front and your school’s name on the back!

Souvenirs

  • Pens
  • Lanyards
  • Buttons

Photos

  • Online access to professional trial photos of your team!

Webinars

  • Covers a variety of topics, ranging from how to prep the Guest Witness to what to pack for Empire!

Who counts as an attendee?

Anyone you’d like! A student, coach, parent, or chaperone can all count as an attendee.

My group is larger than 14. What do I do?

You can easily purchase registration add-ons through Shop Empire. Click on the Large Groups option below.

Other Costs

Large Groups

At Empire, we welcome additional students, friends and family members with open arms! We try to make our pricing for extra attendees (over 14) as manageable as possible, allowing you to select which amenities you’d like to purchase. When planning for your trip, please consider the below costs.

  • Meals – $35 / person
  • T-shirts – $15 / person
  • Shuttle bus pass from Hotel to Court – $50 / person total (SF, NY)
  • Opening Ceremony ticket – $5 / person
  • Closing Ceremony ticket – $5 / person

Hotel

Please take note of the following!

  • Non-commuting teams are required to stay at the Empire hotel.
  • The prices below are listed on a per room per night basis and are inclusive of applicable occupancy taxes.
  • Double bed and king bed rooms are the same price.
  • A double bed room can hold up to 4 students.
  • Reservations must be made through Empire’s online reservation system, and not the hotel’s website.
  • Scrimmage rooms will be available for teams at the hotel for an additional cost. Pricing is based on the size of the conference room and varies between $25-$45 / hour.

+$10/guest porterage fee

Program Hotel Price
San Francisco Parc 55 Hilton $290 / room / night
Atlanta Embassy Suites by Hilton at Centennial Park $195 / room / night
New York Crowne Plaza Times Square $320 / room / night

Empire Experience Additions

Empire Experience Events are terrific opportunities to explore local attractions, while interacting with fellow Empire schools. We are excited to announce the following events:

San Francisco Atlanta New York
Bay Dinner Cruise
$90 / ticket
T.B.D. Harbor Dinner Cruise
$90 / ticket
One World Trade Center Tour
$50 / ticket – includes transportation

We are still in the process of finalizing our 2018 Experience schedule so check back here soon.

Are we required to stay at the Empire hotel?

Yes, if you are not commuting to Empire each day. Local teams are not required to stay. Let us quickly explain why.

First, we believe strongly that it’s a crucial part of the Empire experience. Students build camaraderie by interacting with each other at the hotel, where our ceremonies are held.

Second, we’re able to receive a discounted rate on our rooms and event space because we guarantee the hotel a certain number of rooms. If we don’t meet our quota, then the organization will owe the hotel money!

“Expanding our impact is more than just increasing the number of students that we reach, it means expanding the communities that we serve. In year 3 of our need-based scholarship initiative, we are more than doubling the amount of aid available to schools. The organization will continue to relentlessly pursue its goal of eliminating financial barriers to participation in mock trial.”
– Justin Matarrese, Executive Director

Scholarships

In 2018, Empire is excited to announce that we are expanding our available need-based aid. We don’t want where a student is born to determine whether she or he can participate in mock trial. One way that we hope to achieve that goal is by offering scholarships.

Need-Based Scholarships
We will be offering three (3) need based scholarships that will cover a school’s full entrance fee ($2,005) and up to twelve (12) room nights at the Competition Hotel, subject to the following guidelines:

  • Aid is based on need.
  • Empire may award more than one scholarship per site.
  • Interested teams must complete a supplementary application, accessible through the general application.
  • A team may use its room nights how they see fit; for example, a team could reserve 3 rooms for 4 nights, or vice versa. If a team’s reservation needs more than 12 room nights, then we will ask that they pay Empire for any additional room nights that exceed 12.
  • Empire may distribute more aid should it become available.
  • Deadline to apply for aid is June 1st.

Local Scholarships
We want to engage, and benefit, the local communities where our Competitions are held. In an effort to do so, Empire is actively recruiting schools in Atlanta, San Francisco and New York City. Select teams will be offered scholarships, subject to the following guidelines:

  • Aid is based on need, and will first be offered to schools located in economically disadvantaged areas.
  • Any school that is located in the state where an Empire Competition takes place may apply.
  • Empire anticipates awarding at least two (2) scholarships per Competition, though that number can change based on interest.
  • Interested teams must complete a supplementary application, accessible through the general app.
  • Deadline to apply for aid is June 1st.

Scholarship Application Questions

  1. Please describe the population served by the school in general, and by the mock trial team in particular. Include the type of school district (rural; urban inner-city; metro status), ethnicity, and percentage of students on free/reduced price lunch. All information provided will be held in strictest confidence.
  2. How much money will the school or district provide to fund team expenses if you are chosen to attend an Empire event?
  3. Has your team participated in private invitational competitions before? If so, which ones?
  4. While the scholarship will cover the Empire team entrance fee ($2,005) and 12 hotel room nights, there are many additional costs that the team must cover: travel, some meals, some social events, souvenirs or other incidentals. Depending upon the size of your team and the venue, these costs could be substantial. How do you plan to cover those costs? What are your plans for fundraising or gaining additional sponsors?
  5. Depending upon the number of scholarship applicants, not all who apply will be granted an award. If you are not granted an award, how do you anticipate covering the costs of participation?
  6. Finally, please provide any additional details that will be helpful to our Scholarship Awards Committee in evaluating your application.

HOW TO APPLY

  • Application FAQs
    Click on question for answer
  • Why do you have an application?
  • What does the app entail?
  • How do I select the right competition?
  • Can I have more than one team compete at Empire?
  • What’s your admissions criteria?
  • Is there an application fee?
  • What’s the application timeline?
  • When will we hear from you?

3 Competitions.
1 Application.

Through one single application, you can apply to one or all of Empire’s competitions.

Click through our Application FAQs to learn more about the Application Process. We highly recommend it. Otherwise, you can create an account (or use your existing account) and Apply Now.

We’re ready for you!

Why do you have an application?

No other mock trial competition requires teams to complete an app so you may be wondering why we do. Here are three reasons.

Demand > Supply
We simply have more teams interested in our competitions and/or a particular competition than we have spots available. This helps us determine who to admit and to which site.
Demonstrate Commitment
Empire is hard. It requires a commitment from advisers and students. This is the first step for your school to demonstrate commitment. If you can’t submit an app and/or don’t want to, then Empire is probably not right for you.
The Right Atmosphere
Our competitions are known for an atmosphere that’s rich with excitement, curiosity, respect and civility. We’re not just looking for any team, we’re seeking those that embrace our values. Our app gives us insight into your students.

What does the app entail?

The application has a coach section and a student section. The coach section requires a coach or adviser to fill out the team’s competitive history and respond to one essay question. The student section requires two students to respond to one essay question each. This year’s application is designed to give each team the freedom to show how it will benefit from participation in an Empire competition and how its participation will benefit the entire community of teams.

How do I select the right competition?

We have three wonderful competitions and they each have their own distinct personalities. When deciding which is right for you, consider the following factors:

Competitive Goals
What are your competitive goals?  Do you want to face more experienced  and accomplished teams?  If so, then New York may be the best Competition for you.

Preparation Time
If you attend Empire Atlanta, then you need to be able to dedicate considerable time over June to August to prepare.  However, a late Competition gives you more flexibility to spread out your preparation.

Costs
What’s your budget? Do you feel confident in your ability to fundraise? How far are you from the different Competition sites?  Consider these questions carefully.

Global Family
New York’s field is typically comprised of 25% international schools (around 10 teams).  San Francisco hovers around 20%, while Atlanta is less than 2%.  Consider how important it is for you to compete against international schools.

Atmosphere & Pace
New York and San Francisco will provide a very different experience than Atlanta.  The latter atmosphere will be far more laid back with shorter trial days, which include a quick walk from the Hotel to the Convention Center.  Whereas the former Competitions will offer a real courthouse experience, in beautiful courtrooms, but will require your patience: students are bused to trials, and have to go through courthouse security, leading to longer days.

As the old adage goes, a picture’s worth a thousand words. See what the Empire experiences look like firsthand at the Empire Photo Gallery!

Can I have more than one team compete at Empire?

Yes! Each team will require a separate application; however, coaches won’t be required to re-answer the essay question.

As you decide how to field your teams, please read the following guidance.

You can send teams to more than one Empire competition.

There are a few important caveats:

Rule (A) – No team may consist of more than four (4) students who have competed previously at an Empire competition within the same calendar year.

Rule (B) – A student may compete at a maximum of two (2) Empire competitions per calendar year.

Let’s look at a couple of examples to see how they apply:

  1. A school fields a 10 student team at Empire Atlanta. One month later, they send five (5) of their students to compete at Empire San Francisco, while adding ten (10) new students. This is prohibited as they may only send four (4) students from their Atlanta team to San Francisco. See Rule (A).
  2. A school fields a 14 student team at Empire Atlanta. They send a second team of students to Empire San Francisco, which includes four (4) students from their Atlanta team. In November, they send a third team of students to Empire New York, which includes four (4) students from their Atlanta team who did not compete at San Francisco. This is permitted as it does not violate Rule (A) nor Rule (B).
  3. A school fields a team at Empire Atlanta. They field an entirely new team of students for Empire San Francisco (i.e. no students from the Atlanta roster compete at San Francisco). In November, they send a third team of students to Empire New York, which includes two (2) students from their Atlanta team and three (3) students from their San Francisco team. This is prohibited as no team may consist of more than four (4) students who have previously competed at an Empire competition within the same calendar year.
    • This school decides, instead, to send one (1) student from their Empire San Francisco team and three (3) students from their Empire Atlanta team to Empire New York. This is permitted since they now have only four (4) students competing at Empire New York who competed at a previous Empire competition in 2017; thus, they are no longer violating Rule (A).

You can send two (2) teams to the same Empire competition

Your school may have two (2) separate groups / teams of students compete at a single Empire competition, should the Admissions Committee determine that’s beneficial to both the organization and the respective school. Our decision will be based on application quality, demand for the particular city, and overall competition strength. Given the demand and competitiveness of Empire New York, this scenario is more likely to occur in Atlanta and San Francisco.

Currently, we are not allowing more than two (2) teams from one school to compete at a single competition.

Have questions or comments? Please feel free to contact us.

What’s your admissions criteria?

The Empire Admissions Committee (“EAC”) is responsible for reviewing all applications that are submitted during the 2018 cycle. When making its decisions, the EAC considers the following criteria:

  • Quality of thought in student responses
  • Competitive history (weighed more heavily for New York)
  • Interest in the mission
  • Value that participation in an Empire competition will bring to the team
  • Value that the team will bring to the Empire competition
  • Geographic diversity

We’re looking for teams who are looking to improve their skills in the courtroom but, also, hoping to join a global family that values respect, civility and tolerance above all else.

Is there an application fee?

Yes, it is $55 payable by credit card only.

This fee is part of the $2,005 entrance fee, not in addition to it.

What’s the application timeline?

Empire has a rolling admissions policy. Teams will be offered a spot in the 2018 field before being assigned to a particular competition. Specific competition placement (i.e. whether you’ve been assigned to NY or SF) won’t take place until late June. All deadlines refer to United States Eastern Standard Time.

Starting March 7
Submit application w/ $55 non-refundable fee (credit card only)
Rolling application decisions

June 1
Scholarship applications due
Teams that are applying for aid are required to submit their entire app by the deadline

June 21
Application period closes

June 27 – 29
Competition assignments and scholarship awards released

July 1
Final date to confirm spot by submitting $1,000 non-refundable deposit via credit card

July 2
Case released to teams that have submitted deposits
Late application period opens, depending on availability of spots

July 19
Initial hotel reservation due

August 9
Submit balance of registration payment -$950 (ATL)

August 15
Late application period closes

August 30
Submit balance of registration payment – $950 (SF, NY)

September 6
Submit payment for hotel reservation (ATL)

September 20
Submit payment for hotel reservation (SF)

October 11
Submit payment for hotel reservation (NY)

When will we hear from you?

June 29 is the latest date you’ll hear from us. But we have a rolling admissions policy and we will likely be in touch before then.

The EAC cannot provide updates on applications. We apologize if this causes any inconvenience!

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