Bar Mock Trial alumni,
Katie enjoyed the competition so much she is now studying law at Northumbria University.
In her own words
My name is Katie White and I am currently a law student at Northumbria University Law School. I grew up in the North East and attended St Michael’s RC Secondary School in Billingham from the age 11-16. This is where I was introduced to mock trial and the wok the Citizenship Foundation do in schools and colleges.
Moving through the years at school, I kept hearing about ‘mock trial’ and my school’s reputation when competing at mock trial competitions. Our school was proud of its achievements and the valuable nature of this activity. It was offered to year 11 students as an opportunity to experience what it was like to be in a courtroom. It was seen as a way to help to hone in on persuasive skills and utilize dramatic skills in a real life way.
As a team of 10 we prepared for a couple of months, using the resources provided for the cases and conducting external research, to get ready for the regional competition which took place in November 2011. These months made us work as a team as well as being to understand our legal system in a more practical way. Preparing for the competition allowed us to grow closer a team and form bonds that still last four years later. Through the assistance of our teacher, Angela Parnell and a barrister who acted as judge for us in our ‘dress rehearsal’ we felt ready to face the other schools and colleges.
At 15 and 16, we were some of the youngest competitors at our regional competition. We were not aware of this at the time and after months of preparation, we wanted to be able to make the most of the opportunity. Competing in the regional competition was an eye opener. I was our teams lead barrister, competing on both cases, and going up against students who were up to 3 years older than us and who had competed previously was intimidating to say the least. However, we felt confident in our plan for how to approach each round and that we would attack each round with the intention of winning.
The hard work paid off and we won our regional heat, a feat that shocked even us. The confidence that we were able to gain from the experience stayed with us in the run up to the national competition. It was a dream come true to find out that the 2012 nationals were to take place at the Old Bailey in London. With its reputation and the strength of the teams competing it definitely added pressure. However, everyone at the competition was fantastic, the teams were so welcoming and the Citizenship Foundation helped to ease our minds. After a long day, we were so proud to be able to say we were fourth in the UK at the national competition.
Now for some people this was the end of a great experience; however, little did I know this was just the start.
Due to the Citizenship Foundation and the competition, our team was offered the opportunity to compete at the prestigious Empire Mock Trial competition in New York City, an international mock trial competition featuring teams from eight different countries. This allowed me to experience the American legal system and helped me find contacts that I still have to this day.
I am now a second year law student at Northumbria University and I do not imagine myself doing anything else. As cliché as it sounds, I genuinely believe that if I did not take part in mock trial I would not be pursuing a career as a lawyer. Up until the point of mock trial I wanted to do biomedical sciences. However, competing in mock trial allowed me to experience the legal profession first hand, something that was invaluable in my decision to pursue this career. I now intend to become a barrister- a word and profession I didn’t even know before mock trial.
The Citizenship Foundation opened many doors for me. I now work as a researcher on Empire Mock Trial’s state research initiative as well as working with high school students at their competitions every year. I am able to help these students prepare for the competition and give advice or encouragement if it is needed. Returning to New York City every year has helped me make invaluable contacts with attorney and federal judges in the US, contacts that I hope will further my career in America, another aim I intend to follow through with.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Citizenship Foundation for helping me to realise my dream and introducing me to the world of the English legal system. The supportive nature of everyone involved has allowed me to stay involved with mock trial and to be able to now start helping students now undertaking the task is invaluable. To say doing mock trial changed my life would not be an understatement and I believe without it, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today.