Someone you should know: Sarah Taylor
Undoubtedly, anyone who has participated or volunteered with the ISBA Mock Trial Invitational over the last decade is familiar with the name of Sarah Taylor. Sarah has devoted a great deal of time and energy to this program and is assuredly the reason that the Invitational continues under ISBA sponsorship today.
Sarah was born in Seattle, Washington, and attended high school at Mt. Si High School, which is located just outside of Seattle. After her graduation, Sarah’s family moved to the Carbondale area and she attended undergraduate school at Southern Illinois University from which she received her degree. After a stint working in commercial photography at a photo lab in Chicago, she decided she needed something more challenging in her life and returned to Carbondale to enroll in the SIU School of Law.
Sarah moved to Springfield as a new lawyer and served as a research attorney for the Illinois Supreme Court. After a couple of years, home again beckoned and she returned to Carbondale and joined the law firm of Barrett, Twomey, Broom, Hughes and Hocke where she practiced probate, eminent domain, and family law.
Again ready for a new challenge, Sarah joined the Public Interest Law Initiative (widely and lovingly known as ‘PILI’) in June of 2018. She serves as the group’s pro bono program manager and is in charge of promoting its pro bono legal programs throughout the state.
Sarah joined the Law Related Education for the Public Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association in 2006, looking for something interesting and rewarding to which she could devote her bar association time. In 2013, Sara was named Chair of the Committee, which oversees the Mock Trial Invitational.
It was about this time that the ISBA considered dropping its sponsorship of the Invitational to focus on more member-oriented programs. Sarah convinced the Board of Governors and other bar association leaders that the program served a valuable purpose in promoting civic and community outreach and deserved to be saved.
Since 2013, Sarah has served as the Chair of the LRE Mock Trial Committee. The Committee consists of lawyers and law students who generally start preparing for the mock trial process in the summer. A problem is selected, then fully fleshed out for the benefit of the student participants and their coaches, and any needed adjustments are made to the Handbook and registration materials. After approval by the entire LRE Committee, the problem and related documents are posted, usually in early November.
Update memos are circulated throughout the winter months addressing any issues that may arise with the problem and how it is presented. The logistics of the actual competition also need to be handled, including selection of the date of the event, venue, volunteers, scheduling, etc. The competition is generally held in March and Sarah can be found anywhere and everywhere around the event venue making sure everything runs smoothly and taking care of any problems that may arise.
Asked what has been the most rewarding aspect of her involvement with the mock trial program, Sarah cites being able to save the program in 2013. But she so enjoys watching the students--who have devoted so much time and effort to their trials--compete and develop the skills that will help them no matter what career paths they may choose. She also says that it is fun seeing students connect with other students from all over the state and share their experiences so enthusiastically with each other.
Sarah recently welcomed a co-chair on the Mock Trial Committee whom she is grooming to take over responsibilities when she decides it is time to pass on the gavel and share her bar association time with some other venture. But Sarah says she will never be able to completely walk away from the mock trial program and plans to continue participating for years to come. Those who know her would expect nothing less!