Jones (J.D. ’11) Recognized for Outstanding Service to the Profession from State Bar Division
Matthew Jones (J.D. ’11) received the Award of Achievement for Outstanding Service to the Profession from The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of Georgia for his work as committee chair of the William W. Daniel National Invitational Mock Trial Committee.
The award is given annually to young lawyer members who have gone above and beyond for the divison and to recognize work that benefits the legal profession, said Jennifer Mock, immediate past president of the Young Lawyers Division.
“Matt has chaired the William W. Daniel National Invitational Mock Trial Committee for the past five years and has done an amazing job of keeping the committee on track and handling all of the logistics that go into hosting a competition of this magnitude,” Mock said. “Matt always has a positive attitude and invests great time and effort to ensure everything runs smoothly. The YLD is fortunate to have him as a leader and volunteer in our organization.”
Jones has been helping with mock trial competitions as far back as he can remember. As a teenager, he and his brother would often be recruited by their father, Tom Jones, founder and coach of Georgia State Law’s STLA, to play the victims.
“I would go down to the courthouse during the competition,” Matt said. “Competitors would always do a double-take when they saw me because I was the dead guy who appeared in all the exhibits for the case they were trying.”
T. Jones, who founded and ran the William Daniel competition 20 years ago, continues to be actively involved, writing the problem each year.
Now that he’s in his father’s shoes, Matt appreciates even more his father’s lifelong dedication to the mock trial program at Georgia State, he said.
“My dad has given so much time, every single weekend. All the coaches, who volunteer their time, have given a lot and the STLA program has had the success to back it up,” said M. Jones, a law clerk to Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. in the Northern District of Georgia and former senior associate at Drew, Eckl & Farnham.
The annual William Daniel competition attracts competitors from law schools across the country. Eighteen teams are invited to compete at the Fulton County Courthouse. Georgia law schools have first priority.
One of M. Jones’s many duties as chair is to find 90 people to volunteer as mock jurors. The competition is one of the few that has three judges, he said.
“Having three judges makes it more decisive, and students appreciate that,” he said. “We have a great local bar and a lot of mock trial alumni who are willing to help, which makes my job a ton easier. The State Bar has been supportive of the competition, including financially. I’m very appreciative of that.”
In addition to chairing the Daniel competition, M. Jones frequently coaches STLA teams with his father.
“I stay involved because of the legacy my father has left; I do what I can to contribute,” he said. “It is very rewarding to coach. I enjoy the interaction with the students, and it helps me hone my own trial practice skills as well. I learn things from the students—they are smart and creative. The thing I enjoy the most, though, is working alongside my father and realizing what a truly great trial lawyer he was.”
When he was a student, M. Jones was actively involved in trial advocacy, competing in three national mock trial competitions and serving on the Moot Court Board. He was also a member of the Law Review and a pupil of the Bleckley Inn of Court.
“Most of what you get out of law school is theoretical, which is important. But mock trial is more practical and you get immediate feedback from what you’re doing. I like the spontaneity of it — it keeps you on your toes. I think students who get involved with trial advocacy tend to be more well-rounded lawyers. It was the most valuable thing I did at Georgia State, and it’s even more special because my dad was involved.”
His father offered great advice and insight as both a parent and a coach, M. Jones said.
“One thing Dad always told me was to never be afraid to lose,” he said. “It’s simple, but very effective. People often have a fear of losing … not being afraid to try a case gives you an advantage over some lawyers. You’re obviously not going to win every case, but advocacy is all about doing your best with what you’ve been given.”