Class Action Trailer
Class Action is a twelve-part podcast documentary series that tracks a diverse cast of outstanding law students who are battling it out in mock trial competitions across the country. Host Katie Phang takes you inside the high stakes world of mock trial competitions, where you'll follow the drama of four teams fighting to win the National Championship.
1. Boot Camp for Lawyers
The 100-degree heat in San Antonio won't stop St. Mary's University coach AJ Bellido de Luna from drilling his team on the fundamentals. “We’re going to be the largest populated school for Latino law students. These students are here to make a difference,” he says. And for coach Laura Rose at the University of South Dakota, being midwest nice has no place in a mock trial tournament. She lays down the law; “You guys are engaged in a highly competitive law school sport.”
2. Breathe. Think. Relax.
It's boot camp graduation day at St. Mary's, and the nervous 2L’s must pass one final test before they can make the team: Cross-examine their coach in an actual courtroom. AJ is a former Marine. One by one, they march down Mosquito Alley in their suits. AJ is ready. “Some who you thought were going to do great are gonna fall flat on their face. Some who struggled, had a light bulb go off last night and are going to do fantastic. Everyone else is going to be in the middle.” Tears will be shed.
3. Mob Hits and the H-E-B
“Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” The first big tournament of the season is a murder case based on the plot of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. The teams are practicing saying “consigliere” and figuring out what the difference is between a “capo” and a “soldier.” In between we get a lesson on South Dakota geography (cowboy hats out west), and take a trip to H.E.B. (el Heb) for triple shot espressos.
4. The Battle of the Experts
Dawn breaks for the “Battle of the Experts.” In San Antonio, St. Mary’s team rookie Mariela Encinas prays for success at the Red Mass, the 13th-century Catholic ceremony that traditionally offers a blessing to the legal community for the upcoming court year. In South Dakota, the team gets stoked up on pasta and smoothies. Coach Rose makes it simple for her team, telling them “Blood makes the grass grow." Then, the judges call the trials to order, and it is on.
5. A Ram in the Bush
The undergraduate trial season at Dillard University gets off to a disastrous start as Hurricane Ida lays waste to the campus, forcing students into hotels for safety. Coach Adria Kimbrough must quickly re-assemble her team and get them prepped for its first competition at Ole Miss., where generations ago, Black students were denied entry. Times change and the Dillard team rallies, but some victories are bittersweet.
6. Civil Rights and How to Make a Cup of Chai
Anjani Shah and Ellie Sands lead an all-female team from Brooklyn Law against an all-male team from Harvard University at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. National Civil Rights Competition. It’s an epic battle for an important cause. Anjani's immigrant parents watch the trial online, and her dad teaches us how to make a proper cup of chai. Back on campus, Ellie appeals to President Biden for clemency on behalf of her endangered client.
Bonus: Katie catches up with Brooklyn Law School
A spate of recent Supreme Court decisions are eroding the civil rights of all Americans, especially women. Katie Phang checks in with the Brooklyn team to gauge their reactions to the overturning of Roe v Wade and other decisions. Listen to how these future lawyers plan to fight for and protect our rights.
7. Don’t Mess with Texas
After a disappointing showing in the Battle of the Experts, the St. Mary's team is back together, determined to make a comeback. Mariela joins Andy, Jasmin and Cole, this time as an advocate. They pledge allegiance to Justice Sotomayor and Bad Bunny. The team is on the precipice of winning, only to face discrimination during a controversial semi-final round. Andy and her family celebrate El Grito.
8. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Matt Skinner and Tyler Volesky are sons of prominent defense attorneys in South Dakota who honor their Native American heritage by fighting for justice. Matt takes us inside the Minnehaha County Public Defender’s office, where he argues in real court on behalf of a Native client. Tyler is following in his father's footsteps in both law and politics. But first, he must overcome some obstacles in the world of mock trial.
9. Survive and Advance
Adria is a fan of the philosopher Nick Saban, the decorated coach of the Alabama football team. She and Judge Kern Reese want their team to stay focused, be clear and concise. Tight. She sends her team to an invitational in Houston to see who is ready for the big time in the spring. The results are mixed. Back home in New Orleans, the team rallies and punches their ticket to the Regional Championship.
10. Any Given Sunday
It’s been a grueling season for AJ’s St. Mary’s squad. Spirits are low. Exhaustion has creeped in. The Regional Competition is around the corner – and the case packet has just dropped. If they win in Houston, they advance to Nationals. Lose, and they go home. And standing in their way is perennial nemesis, Baylor University. The odds are low, but when the finals are held on a Sunday, anything can happen.
11. Why do you want to be a lawyer?
Mock trial is supposed to prepare you for a real trial. Andy and Jasmin are about to see if that’s true. They are going to face off in Bexar County Court for an actual case in front of a judge and jury. Special guests and law students from the various schools join in to share some of their favorite law tips and career advice.
12. The Promised Land
For the first time in its history, Dillard sends a team to the National Tournament! Dozens of teams from around the country descend on Lancaster, PA, to not only admire the trophies, but to battle each other in the old courthouse. Adria has brought her team to the Promised Land in what will be her last tournament with the team. History will be made.
Bonus: Home for the Holidays in the Valley
In this bonus episode, Genesis Salinas, 2L, from St. Mary’s in San Antonio, Texas, takes us to her family’s home in the Rio Grande Valley. The Valley is at the southernmost point of Texas, at the meeting point of Mexico and the U.S., making it rich in history and culture. Genesis and her family share their holiday memories and traditions with cookies, arroz con leche, and a children’s Christmas carol.
Bonus: Texas Tales - Checking in with AJ and Andy
Producers Kevin Huffman and Lisa Gray check in with St. Mary’s Law coach AJ Bellido de Luna and former student Andy Vizcarra. You’ll hear some of their personal experiences about being followed by the podcast production team, reflections on upsetting moments during last season’s tournaments, and exciting current news about the team.
Bonus: Life as a 1L
Producers Kevin Huffman and Lisa Gray check in with former Dillard students Amaya Ronczyk and Lajeanne Shelton. Amaya is currently a 1L at Harvard Law, and Lajeanne is a 1L at UC Hastings Law. They talk about their personal experiences as a first-year law student, along with giving some helpful advice for future students, going from an HBCU to a PWI, skills carried over from the Dillard Mock Trial team into their current courses, and some exciting news about this year’s Dillard case law.