To the majority of undergraduates the announcement of the finals of the Ames Competition in the Law School means but little; to Law men past and present it means the finale of a three-year series of tests and mock trials with the highest honor of the School as a goal.
When a class enters the Law School the members are divided into clubs which hold discussions among themselves throughout the first year. The following fall about twenty-four are picked to compete against one another according to a regular schedule, and a regular percentage system is used to grade the clubs according to cases won and lost. The four highest groups are retained for the semi-finals held in the fall of the third year, and as a climax comes the finals, a mock trial with actual justices on the bench. This concluding test involves, from the lawyer's standpoint, the important essentials of a regular case in court.
Besides the honor and the prizes awarded the winners, the value of the competition is greatly increased by the actual practice gained in pleading. "The Winner of the Ames Competition" implies in addition to a thorough knowledge of legal theory and established precedent, a sound ability to use that knowledge to best advantage in concrete cases; in short, a good trial lawyer.
That the contest tonight is of interest to the Law School is more than obvious, but it is open also to all members of the University. To them, particularly to those undergraduates who are considering the Law School, this trial offers an opportunity to see something of its methods and possibilities. A better example of how Harvard legal training can be applied to actual disputes would be hard to find, and as such it furnishes the best possible advice to "doubtfuls" on "Shall I go to Law School?"