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Shrewsbury school pupils get taste of the courtroom
14 Dec 2016
by Simon Alton

A group of students from a Shropshire school have appeared in “court” in front of a retired top county judge to find out exactly how a trial is conducted.

The mock trial was arranged to give prospective law students an insight into what they need to do to develop their skills in their chosen career.

Students were able to get an accurate feel of a trial and had the benefit of the experience of a leading judge, Mr Robin Onions, and county law firm Lanyon Bowdler to help them on the day.

The Law Society at Shrewsbury School, founded by sixth form student Darcy Smith, worked alongside Holly Edwards and Lucy Speed from Lanyon Bowdler to host the Bar Mock Trial.

Holly said: “Competition for placements and jobs is increasingly intense and students looking to pursue a legal career need to be competitively advantaged.

“The school felt it was important to give their prospective law students an insight into how a legal trial is conducted in order to enable them to develop necessary skills.
“The student-led and organised trial involved 13 to 18-year-olds taking on the role of legal professionals, examining evidence and collaborating together to argue their case.”

Shrewsbury School teamed up with Lanyon Bowdler, who provided the case materials and guidance. Students say the experience has pushed them beyond their comfort zone and abilities gained are of great importance.

Students were able to cultivate and hone their public speaking, improve their ability to work as part of a team, ask for assistance when unsure and develop their knowledge of how legal professionals construct successful cases.

Darcy Smith said: “The skills I have gained through organising the event, have been invaluable.

“I feel the event has not only improved my understanding of the legal cases but has provided me with skills which will prove vital to my future”.
Stephen Scully, a motoring offence specialist and member of the criminal team at Lanyon Bowdler, offered the students advice during a practice run.

He said he was very impressed with the level of preparation the students had put into learning their roles, whether they were one of the witnesses, asking the questions or making the speeches.

“Many people find performing in front of an audience daunting, especially in front of their peers, but on the whole, the students came across as confident and articulate and they can be proud of their achievements,” he added.

Mr Robin Onions said the mock trial gave the students excellent experience of speaking in public and helped them to understand some of the court processes.
Simran Randhawa, an Upper Sixth pupil involved said: “The Bar Mock Trial was utterly insightful, and the legal experience I have gained will prove invaluable to me.

“It enabled me to cultivate and hone skills, such as public speaking, that I am sure will equip me for future challenges.”

Shrewsbury School said it was grateful for the support of Lanyon Bowdler and other members of the community who gave up their time in order to make the trial happen.