Aspiring barristers at The University of Law recently got the chance to practice their cross-examination skills in a real Crown Court setting, complete with genuine police officers giving evidence and practising members of the Bar acting as judges.
The University’s Bloomsbury centre organised a series of mock trials in Blackfriars Crown Court for students undertaking its Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC)
Nearly 100 Bar students acted as prosecuting and defence barristers during the trials, which heard fictitious cases of theft and drug offences.
Trainee police officers and Special Constables from the Metropolitan Police took the stand to give evidence while practising barristers took the roles of judges. The roles of jury members, witnesses and court ushers were also played by University of Law students, including students undertaking the LL.B law degree and the Graduate Diploma in Law.
Nick Ross, Associate Professor at The University of Law Bloomsbury, said: “This was a hugely successful event which enabled our BPTC students to consolidate their learning in a real court environment and receive valuable feedback to improve their advocacy skills from practising barristers. It also greatly benefited our other University of Law students on the LL.B and GDL to see how substantive criminal law is applied in court.”
As well as cross-examining police officers, the students made opening and closing speeches and presented complex legal arguments. At the end of each mock trial the jury gave their verdict and the practising barristers gave feedback to the participants.
Bar student Jemma Cross said: “This event was very stimulating. The feedback and the chance to see all of the course come together during a trial was very rewarding.”
Victoria Hale, a criminal practitioner from Argent Chambers in London who prosecutes and defends Crown Court cases, played the role of one of judges. She said: “I think the students found it very helpful in gaining confidence and understanding how the structure of a trial works. This was an excellent event allowing the students to find their own voices and styles.”
A video showing images of the mock trials inside Blackfriars Crown Court, which includes interviews of students discussing their experiences of taking part, is now available to view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiQ_DefRLCA
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