Middle School Students Visit FIU Law for a Lesson in Legal Storytelling
Nisha Mohammed (3L) coaching her group on how to develop a theory and theme for the hypothetical case.

Students from Broward County’s Plantation Middle School’s Mock Trial Team visited the FIU College of Law to learn the art of legal storytelling. The program began with a welcome from Professor H.T. Smith, director of the FIU Law Trial Advocacy Program. Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, assistant director of the Trial Advocacy Program, then explained to the students the importance of developing a case theory and theme, and gave them the facts of a hypothetical case on cyber bullying.

Following the presentation, the group of twenty students were divided into smaller groups. Igor Hernandez (3L), Joanna Hernandez (3L), Denita Jones (3L), Daniel Masvidal (2L), and Nisha Mohammed (3L), all Trial Team members and competition veterans, coached their respective groups on how to develop a theory and theme for the hypothetical case.

“The students were all very excited and eager to learn,” said Mohammed. “I believe they walked away having experienced a bit of what it means to be a passionate, principled advocate.  It was great to share that experience with them.”

The two schools plan to collaborate again in the future. “The Trial Team was so touched by the kids and how much they appreciated the event that we will become involved with their school in the near future,” said Igor Hernandez.

After developing their theory and theme, the groups reconvened and presented their story. “Stimulating young minds to think of legal cases not just as facts on paper but more of stories about people helps them to understand the art of persuasion,” said Professor Smith. “In other words, trial lawyers are in the business of helping people.”

Professors Smith and Fingerhut developed the case so it would be relevant to school-aged children. “The scenario showed us how bullying can affect a person emotionally,” said one Plantation Middle School student. “We really enjoyed ourselves, and we learned that in order to win a case, your story has to be believable, not only to you, but to the jury.”

“It was wonderful having the students here today,” said Senior Associate Dean, Michelle D. Mason. “Events like this make FIU Law a special place.”

At the close of the event, each student was presented with a certificate of completion in Case Analysis and Storytelling.

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