The national mock trial championship was initiated in 1984 in Des Moines, Iowa, with teams from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin participating. After the success of the tournament in Iowa, more states became interested in participating and the tournament became billed as an "All-State" Tournament. The competition then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska (1985) and involved 10 states.
The tournament is hosted annually by different states to ensure that the cost of running the tournament doesn't fall disproportionately on any particular state.
The competition generally includes a total of 46 teams, including Guam, South Korea, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and State Champion teams from across the country.
The National High School Mock Trial Championship traditionally has been held over Mother´s Day weekend each year for over two decades. The schedule devised for the tournament was created and is currently in use in an effort to:
Over three years of planning on the part of each host committee goes into each national tournament. The identities of the full field of competitors are not known until mid-April in the year that the tournament is held in early May. During the three years a host committee prepares to host the national tournament, state coordinators are provided with planning updates and schedule information in the bi-annual tournament newsletter, on the NHSMTC website, on a dedicated tournament host committee website and by verbal reports to the state coordinators gathered for the organization´s annual business meeting each May. State mock trial programs are fully aware of each national tournament schedule well in advance of starting their state mock trial season each school year.
As a reminder, in order to be eligible to participate at Nationals, each state, territory or country is required to pay a Membership Fee. The fee is $250 and is due by January 15th. This membership fee is separate and in addition to a team's $500 tournament registration fee.