By Sarah Maksim
Let’s face it. Mock trials and depositions are no easy task. They demand a great deal of planning for students, and they also require a lot of chutzpah to even accept one; however, they are a bottomless well of information, and every time I attend one, I always end up learning something new. Even as a student, there are unlimited possibilities to meet influential people, get more comfortable in a “real depo” setting, and even come away with some lifelong friendships.
Being timid about attending these mocks has never been an issue for me, but I know that a lot of students suffer from anxiety, and they feel unqualified to participate. But nothing could be further from the truth! Mock settings are the perfect time to get your feet wet and get used to speaking up! During my first depo, I was so nervous about interrupting, but then it dawned on me that the law students’ grades are riding on this and mine isn’t. This really helped me come out of my shell and learn to speak up. Now that I have a few years of these mocks under my belt, I can honestly tell you that I have zero reservations about stopping attorneys if they are going too fast. More importantly, the more you are comfortable speaking up as a student, the more comfortable you will be speaking up as a professional reporter.
One other thing that helped me relax more in these mocks was the fact that the law students don’t know that we are students! Can you believe that the very first mock depo I attended, I was referred to as “Madam reporter”? I couldn’t stop myself from smiling and blushing a little bit, but in that moment, I felt like a certified reporter.
Putting steno skills aside, these mock depos are also a great way to advance your career before you become certified. I have had the chance to rub elbows with famous trial lawyers as well as judges and legal professors. In addition, it is refreshing and surprising when these impressive people come up to me and shake my hand to thank me for the service I provided. I’m always at a loss for words because, if anything, I should be the one thanking them for the opportunity. People may think that being in a room with all these important people is intimidating, but I always have the time of my life. Not only do I have fun, but these experiences may lead the way to promising (and lucrative) job opportunities in the near future.
In short, if there is one thing I would hope you take away from this, it would be to swallow your fear and take the plunge. Get your name out there! Jump in with a friend or go with your mentor for support, but know that the service we provide is as close to the real deal as we can get. While it is stressful the first time, the amount of knowledge you come back with outweighs any anxious feeling. I can’t tell you how many times law professors will ask for me to attend the next mock depo. We may be student reporters, but we provide an extremely useful service for law students. After my friend’s first mock depo, she told me something that I will never forget: “It was the most stressful and exciting thing I have ever done, and I can’t wait to go to the next one!”
Sarah Maksim is a graduate of court reporting school from Santa Clara. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.