10 Ways to Diagnose Yourself with E.M.P.I.R.E.

By Stefanie Mandel, Empire NY ’10 & ’12

Empire weekend has come and gone – but Empire is never really over. What you didn’t know when you sent in your application was that you were bound to suffer from the EMPIRE illness[i]:

E ven though Empire is over

M ock trial

P roceeds to

I ncorporate itself into your life with out

R eally

E ver asking

Otherwise known as “Empire mush brain,” symptoms of the illness may resemble that of a celebrity crush.

You’re infatuated. You want more. And it just won’t leave your mind.

Not so sure you have the EMPIRE illness? If the following applies, you’re a definite case.


“Objection, mom!”

Billy, I told you that you had to be home by 11!” your mom said as you strolled in past curfew. But you’re not like your peers. Your first instinct is to go straight into cross-examination:

Mother, you don’t know if I actually heard this statement, do you?

You didn’t specify whether it was 11 am, or 11 pm, did you? .

If your mother’s response is, “Life is not one big mock trial round!”, you might have gotten yourself out of trouble…and you might have Empire mush brain.


Find yourself daydreaming in class about how smart you could have sounded if you remembered that hearsay was rule 801? Is your mind replaying your statement over, and over again? What about how you tripped up your crossing attorney when you didn’t give him the answer he was obviously looking for?

If you’ve zoned out of class and a faint smile has come over your face during any of these thoughts, you might have… it.

“Thank you, thank you! I appreciate all my fans”,

you thought, as you collected your Best Witness Award. If this wasn’t the case for you, you’re no EMPIRE exception. Didn’t win a top witness/attorney award this year? You’re probably getting pumped to go for the gold next year.

“All eyes on me, in the center of the ring, just like a circus”- Britney Spears

We like to perform. Some fear it, but we actually enjoy public speaking. Maybe we won’t always admit it to our co-counsel, but we like those few minutes in court when it’s our time to shine.

In fact, we like it so much that we almost wish we knew how to sing. It’d be cool to sing the national anthem during opening ceremonies, no? Anyone else with me?

Is this what a bad breakup feels like?

The illness is real. You’re probably roaming the halls of your high school feeling a little out of place. You might even be feeling a little antisocial; it’s as if you only want to spend time with your team, reminiscing on the weekend. This is all normal, and thankfully, passes with a night of team bonding and raw cookie dough.

Seriously, what am I doing wasting my time in high school…

I should be a lawyer by now!!! If you didn’t want to be a lawyer before, there’s a chance you definitely want to be one now. And here’s how it’s going down:

I will start by becoming a mock trial God. Then I will work my way up to Harvard Law School, and I’ll be valedictorian. Upon graduation, I will be the wealthiest used-to-be mocker in the world, and I will use my special skills to coach my high school team on the side.

I am a prodigy.

Objection, your Honor: I can’t possibly have EMPIRE, I don’t want to be lawyer!

Overruled. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a surgeon, a secretary, a cool soccer mom who can get away with wearing ripped jeans, or a pilot- Empire has helped you. It’s too late! Your experience has already been a factor in molding you, even if in the slightest way, by helping you get one step closer to achieving your aspirations. Using expert communication skills when competing amongst some of the top teams in the world can be the one fact on your resume that makes you stand out, regardless of what job you’re going for.

Come again?

Somewhere in between all of the organized chaos- the plane ride or the train ride, the hotel room we managed to make a mess of in under 10 minutes, the hours spent in court, to the months spent preparing out of court- somewhere between all of that, I didn’t realize I was having that much fun. It took so long to prepare, but it all went so fast! Why can’t we have a couple extra days of Empire? We’ll catch up on all of our schoolwork, *pinky promise*.

They’ll never get it.

You have so much you want to tell your non-mocker friends, but all of your stories are about sustained objections (which they don’t know), the chills you gave the jury during your closing argument (which they won’t get), and that really clever pun you made about Andy Allen’s affidavit…(to which they will probably nod their heads and walk away at this point). If you find yourself frustrated and giving up on telling your non-mocking friends about your weekend adventures, you might not know it, but you’ve caught EMPIRE.

“I know I’m only 16, but can I to travel to Hong Kong alone?”

Meeting people from around the world is hands down one of the best parts of Empire. Didn’t get your fix in 72 hours? You’re not alone, most of us don’t. Thankfully, it’s not weird to keep in touch with your friends who live on the other side of the planet! That’s why there’s an Empire Facebook page, duh. You never know, maybe in a few years you’ll end up in the UK, drinking coffee with opposing counsel….”How do you have a friend that lives in Europe?”, your friends from home will ask.

If only they knew…

Don’t hate me because you want to date me.

Honestly, opposing counsel might want to date me after they see how seemingly flawless my prosecution closing rebuttal was. I probably looked really good when I was crossing that witness. I probably nailed my “I’m owning you” strut during cross. And I probably wowed you with my natural ability to bring a character to life on the stand. I #win.

You can think any variation of these thoughts, just don’t say them out loud.

Nothing further.

[i] Only contagious to those who attend.


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