Trial Advocacy

LAPSEN Proposed New National Contest 

We have spent the last few years reviewing contest offerings at state SkillsUSAs, Explorer Posts, Public Safety Cadets and similar to see what options would be best to expand our national Law and Public Safety (LPS) offerings. 

How does a new competition come about? It takes FIFTEEN states to offer the competition. That is the real hurdle. Nationals already consumes the entire Georgia World Congress Center – one of the largest conference centers in the world. SkillsUSA has been slowing the growth of new competitions, but with the growth in LPS programs we feel we can meet the new requirements. LAPSEN already has plans to make the new competitions fit within our current designated areas. We need YOUR state to join us to offer these new competitions.

Trial Advocacy is very easy to add to your state competitions! All LPS programs have kids interested in law and our legal pathway has no competitions offered. Two students prepare for a mock trial. At the competition, they take a knowledge test, use objections in scenarios, and then perform two parts of the mock trial. You need a small room, a judge, an actor to play the witness and a contest coordinator. That’s it!

How to start these in your state? First, don’t just choose one – do them all if you can! We need 15 states to offer one for it to be considered at Nationals. Second, email to get on our list for your state of folks wanting to help organize. Third, help us get the word out! Share this document and encourage people to participate. You can easily offer these at your state conference this upcoming school year!

 Technical Standards

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To provide SkillsUSA members with an opportunity to experience trial preparation and participate in portions of a mock trial.  The team will also take a written test demonstrating legal and trial knowledge.

First, download and review the General Regulations at: Be familiar with any and all guidelines. Any special requests must be submitted at least 15 calendar days before the competition. 


Open to active SkillsUSA members enrolled in career and technical education programs with Law and Public Safety as the occupational objective. This competition requires a team of two. Each school may send one team. 

Student competitors must be enrolled in, or just have completed (within the current membership year), a law and public safety program, or other closely related technical, skilled, or service occupation. 

This contest DOES NOT advance to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

Clothng Requirement

Class A: SkillsUSA Attire

  • Official SkillsUSA red blazer or official SkillsUSA red jacket
  • Button-up, collared, white dress shirt (accompanied by a plain, solid black tie or SkillsUSA black tie), white shirt (collarless or small-collared) or white turtleneck, with any collar not to extend into the lapel area of the blazer, sweater, windbreaker or jacket
  • Black dress slacks or black dress skirt (knee-length at minimum)
  • Black dress shoes

Note: The official SkillsUSA windbreaker, sweater and black Carhartt jacket are no longer available for purchase in the SkillsUSA Store. However, these clothing items are grandfathered in as previous official SkillsUSA clothing and can be worn in SkillsUSA competitions as directed in this document.

Note: Wearing socks or hose is no longer required. If worn, socks must be black dress socks and hose must be either black or skin-tone and seamless/non pattern

These regulations refer to clothing items that are pictured and described at: If you have questions about clothing or other logo items, call 1-888-501-2183.

Equipment & Materials

Supplied by the technical committee: All necessary materials for the competition.


Competitors must create a one-page resume to submit online. SkillsUSA will have guidelines for you to follow. 

Note: Check the Competition Guidelines and/or the updates page on the SkillsUSA website.


Cell phones or other electronic devices not approved by a competition’s national technical committee are NOT allowed in the competition area. Please follow the guidelines in each technical standard for approved exceptions. Technical committee members may also approve exceptions onsite during the SkillsUSA Championships if deemed appropriate.

Penalties for Prohibited Devices

If a competitor’s electronic device makes noise or if the competitor is seen using it at any time

during the competition, an official report will be documented for review by the SkillsUSA

Championships director. If confirmed that the competitor used the device in a manner which

compromised the integrity of the competition, the competitor’s scores may be canceled.

Scope of Competitions

The competition is defined by industry standards as identified by the SkillsUSA technical committee. The following is a list of resources and materials used in the formation of the competition:


The competition includes an exam assessing knowledge of legal procedure, the American court system structure, objections, trial procedure, and general legal knowledge. Each team member takes the exam individually. The collective scores from the test are worth 150 points. See Appendix A for a study guide. Competitors are also required to take the SkillsUSA professional development test. This test is worth 50 points. 200 points come from this section.


  1. Objections (200 Points) – The team will be given scenarios, printed or recorded, and be asked if an objection is necessary, to identify proper objections, and/or defend an objection. 
  2. Mock Trial (600 points) – The team will use the Binder v Skills case for this portion of the competition. The team will prepare for both prosecution and defense. They can prepare throughout the school year. The Technical Committee will declare the side of the case (prosecution or defense) as well as the specific parts of the trial that will be assessed at least 24 hours prior to the competition to allow for final preparation. Only two parts will be assigned, one per team member. Each team member will complete a part individually. The team will declare which member will perform which part when they enter the competition area. The team together will have 15 minutes total to present their two parts. They may distribute their time however they choose to their two parts. 

Parts of the trial that may be designated:

  • Opening statements
  • Direct examination
  • Cross examination 
  • Closing argument


  1. Each team must work independently without assistance from instructors, other competitors, or observers. Contact with competitors must be coordinated through designated event staff only. Any violation of this may disqualify the competitor.
  2. Cell phones, iPads/tablets, smartwatches, wearable technology or any other electronic device is prohibited from the competition area.
  3. Competitors are encouraged to not refer to notes while presenting. While not prohibited, frequent reference to notes will negatively impact evaluation scores. Also, teams may not use electronic notes or items prohibited in #2 for notes. 
  4. Only competitors, judges, and event staff are allowed in the competition area at any time. Observation is limited to the area designated by the judges or event staff. Any violation of this may disqualify the competitor.
  5. No one may contact judges in any way and at any time without the expressed permission of the competition coordinator.



The list below is not exhaustive but represents what test items will be evaluated. 

  • Reasonable suspicion
  • Probable cause
  • Beyond a reasonable doubt 
  • Preponderance of the evidence
  • Hostile witness
  • Expert witness
  • Types of juror challenges
  • Real evidence 
  • Hearsay evidence
  • Circumstantial evidence
  • Direct evidence
  • 1st-10th & 14th Amendments and application to trials 
  • Objections
  • Relevance
  • Hearsay
  • Speculation
  • Narrative 
  • Relevance
  • Improper character evidence
  • Leading 
  • Compound 
  • Argumentative question
  • Purpose of cross examination 
  • Strategy of cross examination
  • Leading questions 
  • Standard of proof
  • Protected plea discussion
  • Stages of trial 
  • Pretrial process 
  • Plea bargaining 
  • Voir dire