Case studies

Shelly’s volunteering journey

“Preparing and conducting a trial in a real court generates immense pride and confidence in the students…”

I’m a family law barrister based in London and have been volunteering on the Bar Mock Trial for over 10 years. I got involved with the competition because I wanted to share what I do for a living with young people less likely to have connections to the legal profession. I wasn’t prepared for the enthusiasm and creativity of the students, which in turn reinvigorated my passion for court advocacy.

In discussions with teachers and students over the years, it’s clear many of those who compete have a strong inclination for social justice, whether informed by their own experiences or what they’ve seen of the world around them. Sadly, some have already faced great adversity and others have had exposure to court and legal processes which are not necessarily positive.

Preparing and conducting a trial in a real court generates immense pride and confidence in the students. Whether throwing themselves into the role of witness or thriving from the pressure of cross-examining, the competition certainly seems to inspire.

I get a lot from the competition as a mentor, too. The students show me new ways of approaching a case, bringing fresh perspectives and arguments. In teaching the basics of witness examination, I’m reminded of advocacy fundamentals. It’s a mutually beneficial exchange! I also hope having a peep into the life of a barrister will encourage those with aptitude to pursue it as a career choice. Even if not, I’m sure they gain a lot from the experience.

If you’re considering mentoring on the Bar Mock Trial, be assured the resources are excellent. It doesn’t involve a huge amount of preparation and time – but I would encourage volunteers to put in more than the required minimum. Once you meet your students you will want to anyway.

Start your volunteering journey