Wofford College’s Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts will serve as a courthouse this Saturday and Sunday while 300 students from 13 colleges and universities compete in an American Mock Trial Association Regional Tournament.

Wofford, which will have two teams participating in the tournament, fielded its first mock trial team in 2022, and now the college is hosting a regional tournament. 

Jordan Willey ’23 competed in mock trial in middle school and high school, but Wofford didn’t have a team on campus when he arrived. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, he sat at his dining room table and began researching how to start a mock trial team. 

“I like justice in the sense that I like when there are rules to help us determine right and wrong,” says Willey, a government major from Moncks Corner, South Carolina. “We can come to an issue and work through it in a way that’s civil.”

The colleges and universities competing at Wofford are Clemson University, Davidson College, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Florida State University, Furman University, Georgia Tech University, Lee University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, College of William & Mary and Wofford. The college is one of 32 campuses across the country hosting an AMTA regional tournament.

Saturday’s opening ceremony will be held at 8:20 a.m. in Main Building’s Leonard Auditorium. Competition will take place in classrooms in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3:15 to 6:15 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The tournament’s closing ceremony will be held 6:15-6:45 p.m. on Sunday in Leonard Auditorium. All events are free and open to the public.  

Willey, who is the president of the college’s mock trial team, spent last summer interning in the Charleston, South Carolina, law office of Wofford Trustee Josh Whitley ’05. Together, they investigated how to make Wofford a host site for a regional tournament.

Seventy judges will support this weekend’s tournament, and Willey estimates that 75% of them are Wofford alumni.

Twenty-five students will represent Wofford on its two teams during this weekend’s tournament. A mock trial course has been offered at Wofford the past two Interim semesters, which has given students an opportunity to prepare for regional tournaments.

“What the organizers for this mock trial competition have done is truly astounding,” says Dr. David Alvis, associate professor of government and international affairs and the Wofford team’s faculty advisor. “Not only did they successfully beat out many other large colleges and universities for the bid to host this event, but they have invested an enormous amount of time and energy in organizing something that is usually done by a full-time administrator. The whole thing is a great testament to the enterprising spirit of our mock trial team at Wofford.”  

Willey is pleased with the support that alumni have extended and how the team is continuing to grow.

“It’s something I can leave behind and benefit other people,” Willey says. “It can help students get into law school and set themselves apart. This will give us another competitive edge.”

Porter Thompson ’24, an accounting and finance major from Asheville, North Carolina, is the Wofford mock trial team’s vice president. Cannon Murray ’25, an undeclared major from Columbia, South Carolina, is the team’s secretary. They’ll lead the team next academic year. 

Willey will take a gap year before going to law school. He’ll graduate in May and plans to pursue acting and modeling opportunities in Los Angeles, California. He, however, won’t distance himself too much from his pursuit of becoming a lawyer. 

He’ll connect with entertainment lawyers in the city to learn more about that field.