87 students from 5 different counties across Northwest Pennsylvania gathered at the Erie County Courthouse today to participate in the Erie County Bar Association's Mock Trial Competition.

The event teaches students about how a real court operates, and is even organized by real life judges and attorneys, such as Kathryn Olon.

"We are having the first three rounds of our mock trial competition today," said Kathryn Olon, an attorney and coordinator for the competition.

"There will be 87 students competing here over the course of two days. And it is a big moment for the students, many of them have been practicing and preparing for this for the entirety of their first semester of this year. So it's a day for them to really show off all the hard work that they've done."

But what is the actual preparation process like? Senior Elizabeth Kellick explains.

"You get an 80 page case, so the first thing we do is we do a deep review, everyone reads the case really thoroughly," said Kellick, who was acting as an attorney. 

"We mark it up a ton, we take different notes, and then once all the attorneys and witnesses have marked it up we then come together and we decide our case theory. And so we pulled together, we draw on the whiteboard all over, it's a big thing. We try to get it down to our most important pieces of evidence."

And how will the mock trial help students such as Emily Williams in their potential future career?

"I am going to go to college and do an entrepreneurship program," said Williams, a senior, who will be going to Grove City College. "Mock trial has helped me to frame a different way of thinking, and it's like being able to solve the problem when you don't know what the actual answer is."

"It teaches you a ton, like I've always had an interest in law and now I have know so much more about the rules of evidence, how an actual trial goes throughout the courtroom and just, you learn so much about what it's like to be in the courtroom and argue in front of an actual jury," added Kellick.

The winners of today's mock trial will go on to compete against teams at the state championships in Harrisburg, and potentially even compete in nationals.