Three legal advisers assist the mock trial teams at Revere

The+legal+advisers+from+left+to+right%3A+Tom+Kelley%2C+Tom+Skidmore+and+Lucas+Blower

Sydney McDonald

The legal advisers from left to right: Tom Kelley, Tom Skidmore and Lucas Blower

Sydney McDonald

The relator begins their opening statement introducing themselves and who they are representing. Soon they will say what they plan to prove and how they plan to do it by presenting the facts of the case that can sway the judges. In another room, the legal advisers for the mock trial team watch the Zoom call eagerly after weeks of preparations leading up to this competition. These legal advisers in the weeks beforehand taught the mock trial participants about the basis of the law in their case file and led discussions on how to effectively win a case. With many years of experience in the field, these attorneys attended zoom meetings and after school hours in order to teach these students. The three legal advisers of Revere’s mock trial team each find their field of practice very rewarding and enjoy the fact that they can teach students about the law while also learning a new perspective on a case that is similar to one taking place in reality. 

With years of experience to each of their names, Tom Kelley, Tom Skidmore and Lucas Blower participated another year in assisting students on the mock trial team at Revere High School after a very successful season in 2020-2021 that had a team going to states.

This year RHS has two mock trial teams known as Team ebarbs and Team Paul. The lawyers on each mock trial team would have the opportunity to speak one on one with any of the three legal advisers who would provide knowledge about the basics of the case based on their vast experience in the legal field. Like these students, some of the legal advisers also aspired to be attorneys at a young age. Kelley already had an interest in some of the values of the field when he was in high school. 

“I was interested in the law and I liked the government classes. I also wanted to do something that was helpful for the people so [being a lawyer] is what I wanted to do since high school,” Kelley said. 

Kelley has been practicing law for over forty years after he got his license to be a lawyer in 1978. After many years of hard work, Kelley is semi-retired.

Kelley and his two sons when they were in mock trial in high school. On the left is Jordan Kelley and on the right is Aaron Kelley.

“[I work] fifteen hours a week and will totally retire probably within the next year or two, ” Kelley said. 

Kelley’s work as an attorney was focused in criminal law, civil rights, litigation and family law. Skidmore found out about Revere’s mock trial program after his sons both participated in it. Ellen Friery, the former adviser, asked Kelley to be one of the attorneys to help. Since then, Kelley has been one of the legal advisers. 

“I started several years ago and I’ve just been doing it ever since then even though my kids graduated several years ago,” Kelley said. 

One notable season that Kelley advised in was the season of 2020-2021. During this season, the trials had to be conducted entirely over Zoom, but this did not dampen the success of the teams. 

“The team I specifically advised and coached did make it to states. The experience was nice for me and all the students involved. It was a tremendous experience. They were a very high caliber team and performed very well,” Kelley said. 

Now for this season in preparation for districts on Friday, January 14th, Kelley has met with his team one last time via zoom on Tuesday evening. So far everything is going smoothly and he is waiting to see how it goes on Friday. While the outbreak of COVID-19 completely changed the processes for every mock trial team, Kelley believes that their processes are just another example of how law works in the real world.

“Real world court was done a lot via Zoom. I’ve done hearings via Zoom and there are trials that are conducted via Zoom. I think that what happens with mock trial is mirroring what’s happening in the real world right now so it’s pretty interesting,” Kelley said. 

Similar to their processes mimicking real-life situations, the cases in mock trial are modeled after those actually going through court in real-life. For example, the case for this season discusses an issue when an owner’s family diner is shut down because it cannot turn over a profit under the COVID-19 restrictions. 

Skidmore listens during the after school Friday meetings and offers criticisms and relates their experience with cases he dealt with in his career. In Skidmore’s case, his father was an attorney and he soon followed suit along with his two brothers. 

“I specialize primarily in civil litigation, contract litigation and construction litigation. We have a family firm called Skidmore Associates,” Skidmore said. 

Skidmore learned about the mock trial program through Kelley when the former adviser for mock trial was there. Skidmore’s daughter ended up going to Revere and participated in the mock trial team for all four years during her time in high school. While helping his daughter in mock trial, Skidmore also gained some insight from his students. 

“The nice thing about being a legal adviser at Revere is that you get a fresh perspective from students. It’s nice to see younger people that are inspired by the law and they actually give me quite a bit of reassurance that I’m doing the right thing in my practice,” Skidmore said. 

Even though Skidmore is highly involved with mock trial now, he never actually participated in it when he was in high school because he did not consider being an attorney at the time. 

“I didn’t even think I wanted to be an attorney until I was a junior in college, so I didn’t decide to go to law school until I was 21,” Skidmore said. 

Skidmore hopes to continue being a legal adviser when his son enters high school. His son has expressed interest in the program and wishes to start freshman year and can find help from his dad. 

Lucas Blower is another legal adviser that assists the RHS mock trial teams. His daughter, Revere High School sophomore Lily Blower is acting as a witness on his team for this year’s season. Blower did not find out about the mock trial program through his daughter. He became a lawyer after he graduated University of Akron school of law in 2007 and went straight to the law firm where he currently works.

Blower at Panera having a meeting with Team Paul before districts. (Sydney McDonald)

“I’m an insurance recovery attorney, and I’m also a litigator; I sue insurance companies and get them to pay to clean up environmental sites,” Blower said. 

He found out about the program through his job, when he heard that Revere was in need of coaches. Outside of his being a legal adviser, he is running for state senate, district 27 this year. 

“I am running to make a difference,” Blower said. 

While his campaign is not complete yet, he is also working on a script for a Hallmark Christmas movie with one of his old partners at his law firm. 

“We get together once a month or so about this movie, it’s called ‘Seasons Pleadings.’ It’s about an attorney who is visited by three ghosts and they try to convince her to do the right thing in regards to a lawsuit involving a Christmas tree farm,” Blower said.

While he did not reveal an official release date, Team Paul will be waiting in anticipation since he revealed this to them on one of their weekly Sunday Zoom meetings. Blower’s daughter explains that her dad pursues many different things, 

“[My dad] is definitely a creative person, he has a lot of side projects and hobbies,” Blower said. 

Unlike the other two legal advisers, Blower did not have a certain plan to become a lawyer. In his own words, he has lived his entire life “by accident.” 

“I went to college just expecting to go to college and then at the end of it, I got my degree in political science and from there I got an opportunity to go to law school and eventually became an attorney,” Blower said. 

Blower emphasized the fact that the results of the competitions depend on the efforts of the students. He tells his students that he will always care less than they do. If his students do not care, then Blower decides that they can just have fun no matter the outcome. 

These three legal advisers have been helping the Revere High School mock trial team for years and each have their own experience and specialties that can assist the aspiring lawyers or simply those interested in mock trial. All the advisers plan to remain with the Revere mock trial team in upcoming years and are assisting the students this Friday in their districts competition.