On Saturday the 1st of April 2017, Murdoch University welcomed 44 secondary school students and their teachers from across Perth to attend a Mock Trial Seminar and Workshop. The Mock Trial Seminar is a combined initiative of The Law Society of WA and the Murdoch Law School and is in its third consecutive year. The Seminar is designed to develop the advocacy skills of secondary school students from years ten to twelve involved in the Law Society’s Mock Trial Competition.

Murdoch University has a strong mooting culture and is consistently involved with national and international mooting competitions such as the International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot and the Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Murdoch Law School also provides advanced advocacy training through various academic units and the extra-curricular Moot Court Bench. The law students who attended the Seminar have all competed in various advocacy and mooting competitions, with many being ex-members of the Moot Court Bench. All the law students were eager to share their advocacy experiences with the high school students.

Law School Alumnus Alexander McVey began the day with a presentation in the Herbert Smith Freehills Lecture Theatre, Murdoch’s very own high-tech moot court. Alex introduced the students to the purpose of the trial, evidence, objections, the roles in the courtroom, case theories, courtroom etiquette, openings, examinations-in-chief, cross-examinations, and closings.

Following the seminar, the students broke for morning tea. This provided a great opportunity to mingle with each other and meet new people from the different schools. They also had the opportunity to talk to the law students. Many of the high school students had questions about attending law school and the different mooting opportunities offered by Murdoch.

After morning tea, the students were split into small groups of six to seven for a workshop. The students received a mock trial question to work through with the guidance of a Murdoch mooting alumni. The students were coached through each aspect of a trial. They were shown how to break down an offence into elements, discussed case theories, practiced presenting effective openings and closings, and dissected the question to pull out the relevant facts and evidence that would strengthen the case for either the prosecution or defence. The students were encouraged to actively participate and share their ideas, and received constructive feedback on how to improve their arguments and techniques. All of the workshop leaders were very impressed with the students’ work and their enthusiasm for the Mock Trial Competition.

Murdoch Law School enjoys engaging with advocacy education. Murdoch has a strong relationship with The Law Society of WA and the Mock Trial Competition. Many mooting and Moot Court Bench alumni coach mock trial teams or judge the competition throughout the year. Every year, Murdoch also offers a scholarship to the ‘Most Outstanding Mock Trial Student’. This scholarship gives a student a position on one of Murdoch’s national or international moot teams, enabling extensive training in legal research, writing and advocacy. The scholarship also covers the costs of airfares and accommodation for the moot.

Thank you to all of the students and teachers who attended the Mock Trial Seminar. It was fantastic to meet you all. I would also like to thank Alex McVey, Lorraine Finlay, Michelle Barron, Annie Warburton and the Murdoch Law students who volunteered their time. Without your hard work, this event would not have been possible.

Murdoch Law School looks forwards to working with The Law Society of WA in the near future to continue supporting this excellent competition and engaging more students in advocacy training.

By Emily Bell (Final year Murdoch University Law & Criminology student)