Students’ Skills on Trial

A team of aspiring Brentwood School lawyers pleaded guilty to impersonating court room officials at the weekend and were sentenced to....a round of applause.

Thirteen Sixth Formers took part in the first Independent Schools’ Mock Trial Competition at the Inner London Crown Court and, despite strong opposition, just missed out on a place in the finals.

The event was organised by the Citizenship Foundation and took place in real crown courts in front of real judges, providing a unique opportunity for students to experience life inside a courtroom.

As well as immersing themselves in the thrill of a criminal trial, the budding lawyers took the opportunity to learn about the justice system straight from highly experienced trained professionals.

The Brentwood team, made up of Sixth Form students contemplating a legal career, played a variety of roles across three trials, from barristers, to jurors, clerks, ushers, and witnesses. 

Mr Mark Willingham, Head of Religion and Philosophy, said: “It was an excellent event. The fact that it was done in real court rooms, in wigs and gowns with real judges gave it excellent credibility. The judges were genuinely brilliant; they gave great speeches at the beginning and end of the day, and helpful feedback to all the pupils.”

A former lawyer, Mr Willingham added: “I was impressed by all the students, but special praise must go to Alice Grundy and Luiza Mazrreku (who gave eloquent and forceful opening and closing speeches in their respective trials) and Jai Anilkumar who did a cross examination of witnesses that a judge was highly impressed by.” 

Alice Grundy said: “I loved going on the mock trial trip. I really enjoyed putting into practice the skills that a real barrister would employ, and getting immersed into a case - genuinely caring about what verdict the jury would return. I learnt about constructing a persuasive argument and commanding the attention of a courtroom. I can now make a more informed choice about potentially pursuing a career in law, having experienced the role first hand.”

Some 12 schools took part in the competition and the cases the students worked on were specially written by the Citizen Foundation’s partners in the legal profession with the aim of not only giving the promising lawyers a unique understanding of the justice system, but the chance to hone employability skills such as teamwork, public speaking and verbal reasoning.