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Not even technical hiccups and audio setbacks could quell the determination and professionalism of this year’s grand finalists of the Law Society of NSW’s Mock Trial competition.

After a fierce three hours of arguing and cross-examining, the team of six from all-girls Catholic School Loreto Kirribilli were crowned the winners of the 41st Annual competition, beating rival Sydney students from Trinity Grammar School.

The prestigious contest took place virtually, with both teams and presiding Magistrates appearing on their respective screens via Microsoft Teams, adhering to formal courtroom procedures from a distance and adapting, like traditional courtrooms, to occasional technical and audio delays.

The Grand Final saw the students dissect a case and construct arguments for a criminal matter in which the defendant was charged with robbery in company, under Section 97(1) of the Crimes Act 1900.

Loreto Kirribilli students acted as the prosecution, and Trinity Grammar as the defence, both having an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses from either side.

After powerful closing addresses, the grand final judges, lawyers Ellen McKenzie and Elizabeth James, applauded both teams for their outstanding effort.

Ellen McKenzie has almost twenty-nine years’ experience in legal practice and currently occupies the role of Deputy Director, Litigation and External Intervention in the Professional Standards Department of the Law Society of NSW. Prior to joining the Law Society, Ellen was the principal of a private firm with a focus on criminal defence work.

Elizabeth James is a senior junior at the NSW Bar who practices primarily in criminal and regulatory matters. She is a member of Seventh Floor Garfield Barwick Chambers in Sydney. Elizabeth has also taught law in the University of Sydney Juris Doctor degree for the past nine years, teaching post-graduate students the Foundations of Law ‘intensive’ course.

Aspiring lawyers from 89 schools competed from across NSW this year, fighting it out across 10 rounds which included both civil and criminal matters. The first four rounds are conducted in a round robin, and the final six on a knockout basis.

The Law Society of NSW rely on volunteers from across the state to participate as presiding Magistrates and script writers for the various scenarios.

This year’s virtual competition allowed Magistrates from different regions to connect with schools they may not have previously.

The Mock Law program has been an integral part of the Law Society’s community legal education project since 1981. It’s an opportunity to increase public awareness of the legal process, connect with the wider community, and support future members of the legal profession.

Main image: Winning team of Loreto Kirribilli students