Yes, studying law is hard, and while we don’t have a lucky scrunchie to give you, we have something better – the Juta Mock Trial competition.
In 2011 advocate René Koraan, director for professional development and community engagement and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law on the NWU’s Potchefstroom Campus, initiated an internal mock trial competition. This competition gives students in their second and third year of study the opportunity to participate in a mock trial offering them much-needed experience.
This year the competition is celebrating its tenth anniversary!
“I believed that giving students this practical exposure, albeit limited, would help them in practice,” says René. “Having been a new graduate once, I know how difficult I found practice. Not knowing when to sit or when to stand in court. I believed the mock trials would give students an idea of the court set-up, teach them the basics, and develop their confidence.”
The competition was initially for the Potchefstroom Campus, but nine years ago, the faculty secured Juta as the official sponsor for the competition. Shortly thereafter the competition expanded to all three campuses of the NWU.
In 2014 the Faculty of Law had their first successful Inter-campus Mock Trial Competition where the Potchefstroom, Vanderbijlpark, and Mahikeng Campuses participated in the competition. This was a very important milestone for inter-campus cooperation.
And that wasn’t the only way it grew. The competition started with just over 60 students and has grown to almost 300 students participating voluntarily.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks auntie Corona, the Juta Mock Trial competition did not take place in 2020 but is continuing in an online format this year.
This year’s theme is “Social Justice during Covid-19” – meaning that even though it will be criminal court cases, the trial will centre around social justice issues.
They will have four teams (campuses) in the semi-final this year. It will consist of a Vanderbiljpark, Potchefstroom, Mahikeng and a NWU team. The NWU team will consist of members (students) from all three campuses, thus a combined team. The faculty see the mock trial competition as an opportunity to foster a passion for law and to establish a spirit of collegiality.
The first elimination rounds have already been completed and the semi-final is scheduled to take place on 31 July. The final of the competition will consist of two teams going head-to-head on 2 August.
The online format will be like the virtual trial/hearings we find ourselves watching these days. The teams are still able to go through the processes of conducting their trial. All role players, including the accused and the witnesses, will join the court virtually.
- Are you interested? You can register to attend/watch the final: https://bit.ly/3wFA00i
I wish the competition could grow to include students from other universities as well. And be an inter university competition.