Mock Trial

The mock trial has become the highlight of the Higher Academics Summer School experience. Each year, students are divided into two teams and are coached by Birmingham attorneys. The students then argue an actual case in front of the Honorable Judge Teresa Pulliam in her chambers. These professionals devote two afternoons a week to work with HASS students as they prepare questions, arguments, and testimonies.

Each student plays a role from the defense attorneys, prosecution, witnesses, defendant, experts, etc., and prior to the case, each student must prepare his or her portion of the case just as a real attorney or witness would do. Together with their coaches, the student attorneys brainstorm questions to ask their witnesses on direct and cross examination while the witnesses become familiar with their statements.

HASS has been so fortunate to have some of Birmingham’s best attorneys coach our students over the years including Christian & Small who coached both teams for the first five years. Last year, Bradley joined HASS in coaching a team. This year, we are so excited to have attorneys from Bradley and Hare Wynn coach our students.

For the Defense:

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“In HASS, I have witnessed students overcome their fears, be brave and discover some of their own talents. All of the students are impressive, and some exhibit the skills of seasoned, practicing lawyers. It has been amazing to watch the students become invested and perform so well in an intimidating forum.”

David Owen is chair of Bradley’s Construction Practice Group and co-chair of the firm’s Energy Team. He concentrates his practice in construction where he represents contractors, subcontractors, engineers, and owners in private and government contract matters. His cases involve multi-million dollar disputes, and he drafts and negotiates contracts for a wide range of construction and design participants. Davis is also a licensed professional engineer and has served as a consultant on projects throughout the Southeast. David received his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law and his B.S.C.E from the University of Alabama’s School of Engineering. David coached his first HASS team in 2015


Phelps, Ann.jpgAnn Hill focuses her practice in business litigation and complex litigation. She has handled matters in trial and appellate courts throughout Alabama and across the country. She has been successful in representing private and publicly held corporations in all phases of high-stakes and complex litigation. Ann is a member of the firm’s E-Discovery team and co-chair of the America Bar Association’s pretrial practice and discovery programming committee. Ann received her J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University.





For the Plaintiff:


We are thrilled to be part of HASS and to coach the Plaintiff team. As a former trial team member, I know firsthand how this experience can empower these students. We are hoping these HASS scholars will take what they learn from the mock trial and will become the next leaders of the State of Alabama.

Ashley Peinhardt focuses her practice in the areas of complex litigation, catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, dram shop, nursing home negligence and class actions. Ashley graduated from Cumberland School of Law where she was active in the trial advocacy program. She was a member of Cumberland’s National Trial Team, bringing home the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s National Trial Competition trophy two years in a row. She also served as an Honor Court Justice, was a member of the Moot Court Board, and a member of the Cumberland Trial Advocacy Executive Board. Most recently, Ashley was selected by peer review as a 2014 Super Lawyers Rising Star. She has also been selected by The National Trial Lawyers as a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer. Ashley is a member of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham and coaches the Hoover High School Trial Team. In 2015, she was selected as’s 2015 “Women Who Shape the State,” B-Metro’s “Top Women Lawyers”, and “Top Attorneys in Alabama” by Business Alabama.

Hughston Nichols joined Hare Wynn in 2006. He represents plaintiffs in matters involving personal injury, wrongful death, truck and automobile accidents, and breach of contract litigation. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Hughston received his law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law. A campus leader as both an undergraduate and a law student, he has continued to develop those skills as a member of the Birmingham Bar Association’s Future Leaders Class of 2010, a member of the Alabama State Bar Leadership Forum Class10, and has been recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. Additionally, he currently serves as the Alabama State Bar Young Lawyers Section President.