On Saturday 22nd November 2014, Nathan Taylor-Allkins and Chris Northway, trainee solicitors in Woodfines’ Milton Keynes office, attended Oxford Crown Court with 15 year 11 and 12 students from Walton High in Milton Keynes to support the school’s team in its inaugural participation in the Bar National Mock Trial Competition.
The national competition, run by the Citizenship Foundation, is in its 24th year and involves approximately 2,000 students in years 10 to 13 across the whole of the United Kingdom who, as a team, take on the roles of barristers, witnesses, court staff and jurors and compete against other schools in a live format, with one team prosecuting and the other defending.
All of the students’ performances are judged by Circuit Judges, Recorders and senior barristers or advocates and take place in Crown Courts across the UK.
Nathan and Chris have mentored the Walton High team for the past weeks providing advice on two specifically written criminal cases. This has included working with the students to carefully consider the witness statements; assisting with both the prosecution and defence cases; and providing guidance on court etiquette, advocacy techniques and the burden of proof.
The students prepared diligently throughout whilst also juggling their normal day to day studies and their dedication and commitment to the competition impressed Nathan and Chris immensely.
The students’ hard work culminated in an excellent performance being given at the regional heats at Oxford Crown Court. Everyone involved gave 100% and whilst the team were unfortunate to miss out on the regional finals, the students should hold their heads high and know that they have been excellent ambassadors for their school.
Ms McLean, Lead Business and Law Teacher at Walton High and organiser of the school’s participation in the competition, said: “I am so immensely proud of the students' hard work and determination. They were an absolute credit to the school and conducted themselves, inside and out of the court, as well mannered and articulate individuals."
Nathan and Chris hope that the insight gained by the students into the legal system gives them a passion and desire to become lawyers themselves. Nathan and Chris were very grateful to all those involved, especially Ms McLean for her tireless hard work and for the tremendous amount of organisation that went into making participation in the competition such a success.
Nathan and Chris certainly look forward to acting as mentors again for the school in next year’s competition.
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