The mock trials are an opportunity for students to experience the legal system as they prepare for a case in which they perform the roles of barristers, witnesses, court clerk, ushers and jurors and carry out examination, cross examination, opening speeches and closing speeches.
The regionals took place at the Plymouth Crown Court in front of a real judge, giving further realism to the experience, which while daunting at first added to the enjoyment of the day for the students. Comments from the day included “It was a very rewarding experience that gave great insight into the legal system” and “It’s confirmed what I want to do”.
Terrina Dursley, Law lecturer at the College, said: “It’s a great opportunity for the students to demonstrate their advocacy skills, thinking on their feet and adapting to new information and situations.”
The students’ victory was a true dark horse story due to the fact that their involvement in the competition was last minute. “We were on the reserve list so we didn’t even think we had a place. After we found out we only had five weeks to prepare, that’s only five sessions, which meant a lot of hard work in the students’ free time.”
Their hard work paid off in the end though as the students’ received a few special mentions from the judges after their trials, including special mention for the closing speech and for one barrister’s particularly effective style of questioning.
All the students found the day a fantastic experience, whether or not they were considering law as a career. One student commented: “Even if you don’t do Law just to go with your school is really good, especially the opportunity to try public speaking. The day was really great.”
Terrina added: “Not only was the competition a fantastic day and a great opportunity to learn advocacy skills but it was a successful day with several of the students achieving scores of 10/10. Winning the regional competition was extremely rewarding and well deserved but was ultimately overshadowed by the fun that the students had on the day.”
Eight colleges from Devon and Cornwall took part in the regional stage of the competition while the finals in Edinburgh on Saturday 23 March will see the Cornish students up against around 20 different groups. Dressed in gowns and wigs, the students will have to prepare for a whole new challenge as the finals will be based on Scottish law.