Published on October 23, 2021
The HVGS Mock Trial team has argued their way into the NSW Law Society Mock Trial Competition quarter-finals, beating Newcastle Grammar School in the latest round (and 90 other schools in the competition) to sail into the top eight schools in the state.
Success in mock trial competitions takes sustained commitment from the team members. Coordinator and Legal Studies teacher Jess Wade feels the secret to this year’s team’s success: their exceptional communications skills and drive.
“This team are excellent communicators; they were dedicated and hungry for this win.”
Over 90 schools compete in the Mock Trial Competition from all over NSW. Open for students in Years 10 and 11, the program aims to introduce students to the NSW judicial system by providing practical experience in running a court case in a true-to-life adversarial setting. The competition develops students advocacy, debating and problem-solving skills.
Six students make up a Mock Trial team, and each team member is assigned a role. There are two barristers, one solicitor, two witnesses and a court officer. The HVGS team has eight members, and they rotate positions among the team. The team is provided with a script and approximately two weeks to prepare the case for the trial. Students must prepare opening statements, examination in chief questions for witnesses, solicitor notes, and possible cross-examination questions. This round’s trial was an arson case.
While preparation is vital in Mock Trials, much of the success comes from students’ ability to think on their feet and work as a team during the actual trial.
Mock trial at HVGS
Mock trial is a popular academic co-curricular activity for Senior students at HVGS. The team’s involvement in mock trial competitions takes considerable commitment and dedication, with students meeting for two lunchtimes a week – sometimes more in the lead up to a trial.
“At HVGS, we have a large number of students interested in Mock Trial,” says Jess. “It links very well to the Year 11 legal studies syllabus, so most of our students come from legal studies; however, in the past, we have had non-legal studies students participate. Quite often, we might have some drama students interested in the roles of witnesses.”
Harrison Roberts (Year 11) plays several roles in the team – barrister, solicitor and witness. What he most enjoys about Mock Trial is the collective problem solving required of the team.
“It is imperative for our team to work together to identify areas of our case which either work in our favour or work against us,” says Harrison. “Although challenging, I enjoy deciphering information with my team and coming up with ideas to present or defend a strong case.”
“We have been surprised by the outcome of many trials. The regular team meetings and overall intellect of the team plays a central role in our successful performance.”
Mock trial moves online
Mock trial is an enjoyable but challenging process, and this year, even more so with COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown preventing students ability to meet in person.
After competing face-to-face in Terms 1 and 2, the competition continued remotely in Term 3 and 4.
“The last trial that we completed was entirely online.
“Mock trial is not necessarily well suited to this as students need to be able to confer and communicate with their teammates. Normally everyone is in the same room, not conducting trials from separate bedrooms! But, we prevailed with a fabulous result,” says Jess.
We have our fingers crossed for the team in the final rounds.