Law school program recieves $125,000 endowment

This Valentine’s Day, Michael Simons, dean of the University Law School, announced that the Long Island-based law firm Duffy and Duffy presented a $125,000 endowment to the University co-sponsored Catholic Middle School Mock Trial Program.

The program was started eleven years ago by St. Brigid/Our Lady of Hope Regional School, a Catholic elementary school in Westbury, New York.

At the program’s inception, it consisted of only a few middle schools, but eventually became too large to be hosted in the small grade school classrooms.

Since 2006 it has been co-hosted by St. John’s School of Law.

According to Simons, the money will go towards ensuring that the program can remain in operation by providing a replenishing budget alongside a stored endowment sum over the course of five years.

With an average of 300 participating students from 14 local schools, the program gives middle school students a hands-on opportunity to learn about the legal system by providing the participants with the ability to try modified New York High School Mock Trial cases in a realistic courtroom setting.

The participants are introduced to the cases in late January, and with the assistance of coaches and mentors, prepare the cases to be presented in front of a panel of ‘judges’ in late May.

On the day of the program, thirteen cases are simultaneously heard throughout the law school, with teams presenting in classrooms, meeting rooms and mock courtroom.

The students do not compete against one another, instead, the teams are simply provided with a final verdict and feedback from the panel of judges, Simons explained.

Simons stressed the importance of ensuring that the program doesn’t die out by comparing the program to Law School itself.

He emphasized that “experiential learning is a cornerstone of [the] curriculum at [the university],” and states that “[the university] is pleased to be able to provide this opportunity to middle school students in our local Catholic schools.”

Michael Duffy, the firm’s Managing Partner who presented the endowment to the University, believes that being exposed to law at an early age is extremely valuable.

Duffy is an alumnus of the University, receiving his undergraduate degree in Business in 1991 and went on to receive his Jurist Doctorate from the Law School in 1994.

Simons thanked Duffy for his continued support of the University, and said he is incredibly grateful that an alumnus is providing this kind of generous support.

Of the endowment, Duffy says that he is “truly honored to help sustain the [program] at [his] alma mater and, in this way, nurture the next generation of lawyers who will serve the greater good.”