(From The Oundelian, published June 2020)
There is a huge community at Oundle, networked to encourage us to gain confidence with public speaking and debating. The Independent Schools Mock Trials Competition was an eye-opening and inspiring opportunity to hone those valued skills, and take the chance to develop new ones. Held at the Birmingham Crown Court, it was a cold day in January packed full with heated and impassioned arguments. Despite a slight setback involving a delayed train and the loss of one of our team members, Oundle arrived just in time to take a short respite at the Boston Tea Party, slightly dishevelled from the long drive and hideously early start. But, if anything could wake us up, it was the adrenaline slowly beginning to pump as we entered the courtrooms. For many, including me, this was the first time we had actually been inside a proper courtroom. It was a surreal experience to say the least.
"With our flashcards spilling from our suit pockets, we took to our first trial. The Crown versus Blair Forrester. Acid attacks. This had been weeks in the making, and our determined expressions perhaps conveyed that the most perfectly."Izzy Horrocks-Taylor, Laxton
With our flashcards spilling from our suit pockets, we took to our first trial. The Crown versus Blair Forrester. Acid attacks. This had been weeks in the making, and our determined expressions perhaps conveyed that the most perfectly. The first case was won, by barristers Jerry Li and me, and with help from our witnesses Kiara Mashru and Niamh Marsden.
What soon became clear was that, despite what it is like in the real world, this was very much a team sport. As we watched and participated in more cases as the day wore on, either as spectating jury members, or as competing barristers, witnesses, clerks or ushers, it could easily be deduced that the outcome of a case was not just determined on the performance and persuasion of the barristers, but on the way the entire team conducted themselves as a single, indivisible unit.
"The outcome of a case was not just determined on the performance and persuasion of the barristers, but on the way the entire team conducted themselves as a single, indivisible unit"Izzy Horrocks-Taylor, Laxton
The second trial was perhaps slightly more complex. The Crown versus Charlie Martin. Money laundering. For this case, there were two counts against the defendant, and our barristers Ned Chatterton and Angus Mihel worked well to prove Charlie innocent of one of them. Or, in this case, Tom Aubury, who was playing Charlie, and had only had approximately two hours to learn his entire backstory and defence due to the aforementioned setback.
As this is the first year Oundle has entered, our expectations riding on the competition were understandably set relatively low. We didn’t know how we would compare to the other teams. We didn’t even know if this was going to be an experience to revel in, or which would be best forgotten! I think everyone surprised themselves with how they stepped into the shoes of their role, and how professionally and expertly they performed. For me, in the moment, it was exhilarating, and in hindsight it is still inspirational and uplifting. Never having truly known what my vocation is, I am now assured of my future.
I must thank the wonderful Mrs Aubury and Mrs Gould for giving up their time to take us and coach us for the competition; their expertise and oversight was invaluable.
For anyone considering a degree or further education in Law, I shall say it bluntly, and I shall say it once: get involved in this! It will not disappoint.