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NSW Law Society Mock Trials Competition
Running since 1981, the New South Wales Law Society’s Mock Trial Competition introduces Year 10 & 11 students in NSW and ACT to the judicial system by providing practical experience into the running of a court case in a true-to-life adversarial setting. Students participating in the program also learn advocacy, debating and problem-solving skills.
RegNet’s Dr Virginia Marshall has been volunteering as a Mock Trials Magistrate for 12 years at various competition stages and locations, including in Canberra.
The first four rounds of the Competition are run on a regional round robin-basis in each of the ten regions from February to late June. The top 64 scoring teams across NSW and the ACT then compete on a knockout basis until two schools are left to meet for the Grand Final in early December. The winner of the State Grand Final is then eligible to compete in the International Mock Trial.
This year was the third time Virginia has judged the Competition’s Grand Final, which took place on Thursday 29th November at the University of Sydney Law School, with NSW Law Society’s Ellen McKenzie and serving Magistrate Elizabeth Ellis joining her on the bench. The Grand Final between teams from St Ignatius College (Riverview) and Trinity Catholic College (Lismore) was won by St Ignatius College.
Virginia says that the Mock Trials Competition is a great way for secondary students to develop an interest in law and reports that she recently ran into a former participant and winner of the Competition’s Student Advocacy Prize, who has commenced a law degree at the ANU College of Law. Virginia encourages legal academics, retired or practicing lawyers and barristers to get involved with the competition as a way of helping the Law Society of NSW build a strong future for the legal profession. Virginia is also interested in exploring ways to increase the engagement of Aboriginal students in the Mock Trails Competition with a longer term goal of increasing the representation of Aboriginal people in the legal profession.
Conference presentations- ILEC8 & ANZLHS
Virginia has also been busy sharing her work and experience this month. She presented at the 8th International Legal Ethics Conference at the University of Melbourne 7th December on the topic ‘The role of the legal profession in realising the recommendations from Uluru Statement from the Heart’ as part of the Plenary Panel ‘Social Justice and Democracy: The Role of Lawyers’. Organised by the International Association of Legal Ethics, Routledge (publisher of the Legal Ethics journal) and Melbourne Law School, ILEC8 had the theme ‘Legal Ethics in the Asian Century’. Co-presenting with Virginia were Prof Brad Wendel (Cornell University), Prof Elise Boddie (Rutgers University) and Prof Hilary Sommerlad (Leeds University).
Left to Right: Dr Virginia Marshall (ANU), Prof Brad Wendel (Cornell University), Prof Hilary Sommerlad (Leeds University), Prof Elise Boddie (Rutgers University).
On 12th December, Virginia gave a keynote plenary presentation at the ‘Exclusion, Confinement, Dispossession: Uneven citizenship and spaces of sovereignty’ conference at the University of Wollongong on the theme ‘Overturning Aqua nullius: securing Aboriginal water rights’. Organised by UOW’s Centre for Colonial and Settler Studies it was the 37th annual conference of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society. Also presenting in the plenary session with Virginia were Assoc. Prof Penny Edmonds (UTas) and Crystal McKinnon (VC Indigenous Research Fellow, RMIT).
Left to Right: Presenters Crystal McKinnon (VC Indigenous Research Fellow, RMIT), Assoc. Prof Penny Edmonds (UTas), Dr Virginia Marshall (ANU) and session chair Assoc. Prof Audra Simpson (Columbia University)