The Kids Are Alright
March 1, 2023 • Colleen A. Lovejoy
Last month, Brian Nadler and I volunteered to judge the 2023 Seattle Regional Mock Trial competition hosted by the American Mock Trial Association at the University of Washington School of Law. The mock trial competitors were undergraduate students from several states in the region, including Washington, Oregon and California.
When I realized we would be judging college students on their trial advocacy skills, I was concerned. In recent years, the media has pushed the narrative that “Gen Z” consists of “woke and entitled” young people who refuse to work as hard, or as long, as their predecessors. I was concerned that my honest, yet blunt, evaluation of their performance would bring them to tears or be considered offensive. I was also concerned the case presentation would be subpar, given the lethargic reputation sometimes attributed to the younger generation.
The competition was held on a typical rainy Seattle weekend. The students spent all day Saturday and Sunday presenting their cases and having their legal advocacy critiqued by multiple lawyers from the Seattle region. Despite the long weekend of hard work presenting to seasoned lawyers, the students were excited and engaged in the event. They were actually smiling and laughing with each other.
And I was blown away by their performance! Each of the students' presentations were exceptional. Some were top notch from beginning to end. Some overcame a slow and stumbly start, only to deliver compelling and convincing closing arguments. They were all supportive of each other, even opposing counsel. The level of skill and professionalism was remarkable.
In the end, the students not only welcomed criticism, but they requested it. Each student wanted to know how they could be better, and how their skills might translate into the real legal world. I think they expected that I would teach them something, but the reverse was true.
Do not listen to the rumors about Generation Z. The “kids” are alright (at least the Westcoast kids!). We should all take a moment to engage with, and learn from, the young adults in our world. They will be in charge soon. I think we are in good hands.
A Seattle native, Mrs. Lovejoy earned her Juris Doctorate from Seattle University School of Law and her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Washington. Mrs. Lovejoy was admitted to the Washington State Bar in December of 2011. She has been an attorney at Schlemlein Fick & Franklin, PLLC since the firm was established in January 2012.