Kent Law School has looked to overcome social distancing restrictions by moving mock trials online. In doing so, this has enabled more students to witness law in action and for more legal practitioners, judges and magistrates to get involved.
Mock trials enable students to experience criminal law in practice and are normally held in the state-of-the-art replica courtroom in the Wigoder Law Building.
Stage 2 and 3 law students enrolled on the School’s Mock Trial Advocacy module have been preparing for trial, with the final mock Crown Court proceedings taking place via Zoom to ensure that as many students as possible are able to watch the trials or participate as members of the jury.
Darren Weir, Director of Lawyering Skills at Kent Law School, said the virtual environment has allowed for more members of the local legal community to get involved: ‘This year will see a total of 28 academics, judges, practitioners and Magistrates playing the roles of witnesses and judges in our Crown Court trials. Being online has certainly got its advantages in that that regard.
‘The advocate students will get a real sense of law “in action” and jurors will have an opportunity to discuss the merits of each case with their contemporaries before reaching a verdict on the evidence. Both groups will be better able to evaluate the role of an advocate and to critically reflect on how the process has its place in society.’
Eleven cases will be heard throughout November and December, with each trial lasting up to three hours. Students volunteering their time as jurors, Court Clerks, ushers or witnesses will be rewarded with employability points.
The Mock Trial Advocacy module enables students to gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of the techniques used in trial advocacy. As well as being able to demonstrate skills in persuasion, case preparation and analysis, students learn how to question witnesses effectively.