First-Year Student Courts a National Championship
By Caperton Gillett
Most college freshmen do their best to stay out of court, but Ali Massoud works tirelessly to spend more time in front of the judge. As a first-year member of UAB’s Mock Trial team, Massoud spends hours each week with his teammates poring over incident reports and witness affidavits and polishing arguments for a simulated court case.
An English and French major, Massoud had been involved with speech, debate, and forensics since middle school—and was already planning a law career—when he learned about UAB’s Mock Trial team at freshman orientation. He says the opportunity to hone his skills and add to his resume was attractive. The fact that UAB won the 2006 national championship and got the traveling trophy from Harvard also excited him.
“My perceptions of Mock Trial were very much painted by all of the dramas on TV,” Massoud notes. “People are always standing up and yelling, ‘Objection, your honor!’ It seems so exciting and dramatic.” The reality, he found, involves a lot of research, strategy, and long hours spent in Sunday scrimmage. “And to a certain extent, it has involved excitement and drama, because if you know your material and are confident in it, you can really portray that and be a successful attorney,” he says.
For the regional and national competitions, Massoud did not play a successful attorney but an expert witness instead. He was the only freshman selected for UAB Mock Trial’s A Team, taking the role of Leslie Roman, an expert accident reconstructionist—complete with extensive technical material to internalize. “It’s like a physics class,” he says. “You have to understand the information and be able to convey it to the jury—especially under pressure of cross-examination.”
Rookie that he is, Massoud feels confident in himself and his team. “I feel like I’m in the presence of some really talented individuals who know exactly what they’re doing,” he says. “Whether it’s A Team or B Team, attorney or witness, we’re all pushing to go further.”