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January 03, 2022

Recap of ABA ROLI's Fellowships and Study Tour for its 2021 Annual National Mock Trial and Annual National Mediation Competitions in Mexico

Each year, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) hosts two types of trial competitions as part of its Mexico program, New Advocates for Mexican Justice, a National Mock Trial Competition and a National Mediation Competition. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic certain programmatic activities, such as the fellowship and study tour initiatives, were postponed during the 2020 competitions. Despite this setback, ABA ROLI was able to invite the winning teams of the 2020 competitions to participate in the fellowship and study tour initiatives with the winning teams of the 2021 competitions– the 8th Annual National Mock Trial Competition and the 6th Annual National Mediation Competition– as a joint effort to give participating students an equal opportunity to learn about the criminal justice system in the United States (U.S.).

Funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the program works with Mexican law schools to prepare the next generation of Mexican attorneys for practice in the accusatorial trial context. To build the capacity of the students and faculty in Mexico’s law schools, ABA ROLI works with the institutions to develop the student’s litigation, mediation, and restorative justice skills, as well as tailor the instructors’ legal education teaching methods to mirror the accusatorial trial system. Since the project’s inception, ABA ROLI has reached more than 6,000 law students representing all thirty-two Mexican states, 935 law school professors, and 237 law schools through technical skills training sessions and the administration of nationwide mock trial and mediation competitions.

Fellowships for 7th and 8th Annual National Mock Trial Competition Teams

The fellowship program for the winning teams of the 7th and 8th Annual National Mock Trial Competitions took place from August 2 to 13, during which the participants engaged with international experts from Peru and the U.S. on the implementation of the accusatorial systems in their respective countries. These national experts focused on different specialized topics related to oral litigation and the Mexican criminal justice system, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights in Mexico. Additionally, the students participated in interactive virtual conferences and roundtable discussion sessions for knowledge sharing opportunities on the comparison analysis of the foreign accusatorial systems and the Mexican system.

A total of 15 law students completed the Fellowship, of which 6 were female-identifying participants and 9 male-identifying participants, representing 02 universities from 2 states.

Fellowships for Annual National Mediation Teams

Similar to the Annual Mock Trial Competitions, ABA ROLI invited the winning teams from the 5th Annual National Mediation Competition to participate in the fellowship program under the 6th Annual National Mediation Competition. By implementing this activity online, ABA ROLI was able to invite the top three teams from each competition to participate. Thus, six teams of two law students each (twelve participants) successfully joined in this activity.

From July 19 – 30, 2021, and August 30 – September 3, 2021, the students received instruction from two renowned international experts in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Kay Pranis and Michael Ledwidge.

Study Tour for Annual National Mock Trial Competition Teams

In addition to the winning teams from the 7th and 8th Annual National Mock Trial Competitions, ABA ROLI invited the winning teams from the 5th and 6th Annual National Mediation Competitions to participate in a joint-virtual study tour, as an opportunity for all 8 teams to collaborate and learn from one another.

Additionally, ABA ROLI’s New Advocates for Mexican Justice program partnered with ABA ROLI’s INL-funded program in Peru to include the winners of the Peruvian Mock Trial competition into the Mexican study tour program. This provided a unique space for participating students to share their experience in Mexico, Peru, and the USA. ABA ROLI’s field offices in Mexico and Peru were able to work together to achieve a common objective for their mock trial competitions.

The virtual study tour was taught by the University of San Diego from August 16 to 27, via their Justice in Mexico initiative and the Oral Adversarial Skill-Building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) project.

Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Latin America and the Caribbean.