The legal profession’s future leaders had their chance to shine during the grand final of the Law Society of NSW’s Mock Trial competition, held in-person for the first time since 2019.
Chevalier College from Burradoo near Bowral in the Southern Highlands were crowned the winners of the 42nd annual competition, beating rival students from Sydney Girls High School. The two teams emerged as standouts above aspiring lawyers from the 126 schools across NSW and the ACT who participated in this years Mock Trial.
The prestigious contest was held in front of a packed live audience of friends, family, and school staff at the Law Society of NSW’s building in the Sydney CBD. Excitement thrummed in the air and the anticipation was palpable as the teams of six arrived – the culmination of nine months of hard work and engagement since the competition kicked off in February.
The Grand Final saw the students dissect a case and construct arguments for a criminal matter in which the defendant was charged with robbery with arms. Chevalier proved strong acting as the defence and were commended for their fierce cross-examination of Sydney Girls’ prosecution witnesses.
Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Bellew was the Presiding Judge on the day, alongside Ellen McKenzie, the Deputy Director Litigation and External Intervention in the Professional Standards department of the Law Society.
Justice Bellew told LSJ the future of the legal profession looks “very bright” if such talented young people are aspiring to enter it.
“I’ve been involved in coaching some mock trial teams over the years, and there is nothing quite like, in my view, getting people back into a courtroom setting rather than online. That it was a refreshing change,” Justice Bellew said.
“The standard was absolutely outstanding. The future is bright for any of these young people who want to pursue a career in the law.
“There are a couple of students in particular who were absolute stand-outs and who if they pursued that career path, I am sure would do very well. That could be said for all of them.
“I love being involved. I have done lots of work with students over the years; high school students, tertiary students. It is a great thing to do. Those of us who are at this sort of level have a responsibility to do it. I look at it as a privilege to be able to help.”
The students treated the competition with the utmost respect and seriousness, however the Mock Court at times erupted in laughter with funny remarks from Justice Bellew. At one point when a student stood to object during the prosecution’s examination, her chair fell behind her, to which Justice Bellew warmly remarked: “You’re not a real Barrister unless you’ve done that at least five times. You’re off to a good start.”
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.
The 2023 program will commence in March, and is currently seeking volunteers to act in both the Mock Trial and Mock Mediation competitions as magistrates, adjudicators, case writers and team coaches. If you would like to be involved, please contact the Mock Law Coordinator at [email protected]