The Law Society's Interschool Mock Trial Competition was launched in 1981 to foster an understanding of legal principles in high school students. Robyn Cross, the programme co-coordinator, is keen to hear from any practitioners who have been involved in the competition, particularly as a student. She would value comments on how the competition can be improved, and the role the mock trials played in motivating students to practise law.
Twenty eight schools participated in the first year of the competition, which has grown to 260 schools in NSW and ACT. Typically, the trials are keenly fought and strongly supported by staff and parents.
In 1999 the competition expanded to include schools from the UK. The trials were held via video conference facilities provided by the Department of Education and Training.ï¿½ In 2009, Penrith High School competed against Hangdong School from South Korea. It is planned to expand this competition to other Asian countries.
David Thiering, a barrister who has acted as a magistrate in the competition for many years and also judged a grand final, says:
"I firmly believe that the programme has, over many years, been a nursery for lawyers, encouraging high school students to develop an interest in law as a careerï¿½ and which has been the starting point for academic and professional satisfaction for many who now practice.
The fact that all schools can participate and that in practice it is not restricted to affluent or city based schools, opens up the possibility of being a lawyer to many children from families with no culture of university study or idea of a professional career. Those responsible are to be congratulated and I only hope the competition continues to grow for many years to come."
In October this year, barristers will be asked to volunteer their time to assist the competition either as a coach or judge. To volunteer, or to forward your comments, please contact Robyn Cross at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Thiering at email@example.com
26 August 2009