As reported by the Tennessee Bar Association, the 2010 Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition got underway yesterday with the release and publication of the mock problem. Tennessee Bar AssociationThe case involves a dispute over the design and construction of a 400,000 square foot distribution center featuring a concrete slab-on-grade floor. The primary issue in dispute is whether the work performed by the contractor constituted a breach of contract or professional negligence. A copy of the problem may be downloaded on the TBA’s website.

The case materials for this year’s problem were developed in large part by the Tennessee Association of Construction Counsel, which is an association of about 100 attorneys from across the state with practices serving contractors, building material and equipment suppliers, architects, engineers, and building owners and developers.

Marisa Lee Combs, the Chair of the Tennessee State Mock Trial Committee and a construction attorney at Lewis King in Nashville, is a product of the mock trial competition. In response to an inquiry, Marisa said, " If not for that experience, I am not sure I would have chosen a career in the law. Other classmates of mine were interested in drama, so they loved playing witness roles. To me, it is a great way to show the students how complicated and fun the law can be."  

To me, it is exciting to see a future generation of thinkers, problem solvers and litigators at such an early age in their education. I am also excited to see that this year’s problem focuses on a construction dispute that will provide for some very interesting trial arguments. (Since I am a construction lawyer who regularly litigates these types of disputes, I will refrain from providing any more commentary on this issue.)

Kudos to the Tennessee Bar Association and the Tennessee State High School Mock Competition for their extraordinary efforts in creating and supporting this great program. And a hearty good luck to all the young participants!