United Kingdom Testimonials

Story of St. Peter’s School

Bournemouth, Dorset, United Kingdom
 – Empire 2010

“30 Teams, 5 countries, 1 Empire” – The Empire City Invitational. I can truly say that this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was truly unbelievable. And I mean that. To this day, I still don’t believe that I was one of the lucky 11 people to represent the UK in this competition. I have learnt so much along the way, heck, the 28 trial objections are only a small example in the grand scheme of the things that the Empire has taught me. Between learning trial techniques from previous NYU Mock Trial Champions and actually competing against the 2008 Empire Champions (which we won against, may I add), Empire taught me to be patient when dealing with people, it taught me the importance of trust and teamwork, and it taught me that in the end, every step you take is worth it when you can look back and 

say, “I did it, and I would absolutely love to do it all over again!” Empire opened my eyes to the possibilities that are available if enough work and effort is put in.

Of course, like with everything there were some difficulties we faced as a team. But that was the beauty of Empire, when we found out we were chosen, we were straight away told that it’s a huge step up from the British competition, and so it was! Learning new rules, new techniques, witness statements that were 6 pages long, cross examinations that were 8 minutes long, it was a real challenge! Don’t for a second think that it was just a holiday with a bit of preparation! But the relationships built throughout those 4 

days are worth every second of that challenge. Empire let me believe in myself, it taught me the importance of self-confidence on the road to success. Something that I had struggled with for so long in the past! It gave me the confidence to chase after my dreams, to study in the USA. I am now going to begin my studies in the USA in August of this year, and I would never have done that without the help of the Empire City Invitational. It truly is an experience that will change your life for the better.

– Kate Riekstina, Student Attorney

The Empire Mock Trial was, without doubt, one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The city, the people (both that I came with and that I met there), and the intellectual rigour and fun of the competition itself combined to make it an astonishing, once-in-a-lifetime event.

Moving from the British competition to the Empire was an enormous culture shock; we had to deal with 8 witnesses in total (though only six are called in each round) with affidavits six pages in length , expert testimony and myriad objections that require complex responses. However, it was all completely worth it; the satisfaction of articulating before a court why evidence is admissible or inadmissible is immense, even you don’t win the argument, and the more complex witnesses lent themselves very well both to compelling arguments and interesting characters. Our Sherlock Holmes-esque investigating officer and stammering insect scientist were particular highlights.

The competition itself was amazing. Over four rounds, we came up against four highly-polished teams, all of whom were immensely friendly both before and after the rounds. The fact that we were from the UK was not as much of a hindrance as you might think; we took all three ballots in our match against the school that won the 2008 competition, and even managed to give the team that eventually won the competition a fairly hard time. All the organisers (who were mostly champions of university-level mock trial) were friendly and eager to give us their time and advice, which was an immense help in navigating the trickier waters of the hearsay rules and fine-tuning our cross-examinations to be impossible to wiggle out of.

All in all, it was a phenomenal experience, in one of the world’s greatest cities, against the nicest, most skilled teams from three continents and five countries. We’ve stayed in contact with many of the people we met there, and if I had to do it again, I would. In fact, I wish I could.

– Nikeel Boyd-Shah, Senior, Student Attorney

The Empire experience is unforgettable. It will take every ounce of effort and commitment from you and your students and they will be stretched as they have never been before.It will be the hardest thing you have ever done in teaching and will use a lot of the summer holiday. There will be tears and frustration but the sense of satisfaction is immense. The other teams are fantastic young people and the whole atmosphere is electric. My students have gained massively from the experience and it has undoubtedly helped them to get into the most competitive universities to study Law. Our witnesses have been able to use it to get into drama schools too. I would definitely do it again if I had a strong enough team who had the dream to compete in New York. It is literally “awesome”!

– Sarah Middleton, Teacher Coach

Story of Dalriada School

Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
 – Empire 2011, 2012

In October 2011, I had the opportunity to take a team of 11 pupils from Dalriada School to New York to compete at the Empire City Invitational. Following the team’s success in both the Northern Ireland and UK Finals, they were invited to represent Northern Ireland at this very prestigious event.

This really was a momentous occasion for the team from Dalriada; being the first Northern Irish team to ever compete at this level. It was an event which allowed our pupils to represent both their school and Northern Ireland with pride. Participating in the competition provided the students with an invaluable experience. Not only did it reinforce career decisions for some of the pupils on the team, but it allowed them the opportunity to play their part in enhancing team spirit as well as improve their personal self-confidence. Four of the students who participated are already studying Law at university while others are going into careers such as medicine and business, where a knowledge and respect for the Law is so important.

The opening ceremony in particular really was ‘awesome’. The team were incredibly impressed by the welcome video and the overall sense of occasion was something the pupils will never forget. It’s safe to say that each one of them were really very proud to be taking part in such a high-profile competition.

Kings County Supreme Court was an ideal location for the competition. Not only was it convenient to the Marriott Hotel, but it allowed competing schools access to modern, working courtrooms. Pupils were allowed the opportunity to gain an insight into the American legal system and to experience the sense of professionalism and drama that is often synonymous with the courtroom situation.

The organisation of Empire V was perfect from start to finish. Justin Matarrese is to be commended for his overall organisational skills. To co-ordinate the necessary arrangements for 34 teams from several countries around the world is no mean feat. Justin was meticulous in terms of the arrangements and prior to the competition he even spent time with each International team via skype. As a result of his efforts, every aspect of the weekend ran incredibly smoothly. Mealtimes at the Courthouse, the cruise of New York Harbour and the Farewell Dance provided pupils with opportunities to interact with pupils from other teams. Arranging and facilitating these activities can’t have been an easy task; however it is these experiences and the friendships the pupils have formed as a result, that are some of the most precious memories our pupils have of Empire V.

From the outset it was very clear that the calibre of the teams who would compete at the Empire City Invitational was incredibly high. The competition was to be more difficult and intense than those we were familiar with in terms of Mock Trial in the UK. As a team, we knew that we would have to be extremely well prepared so that we could face our American opponents with confidence. The team spent a great deal of time working together over the Summer months; both in the evenings and at weekends in order to ensure that they had fully explored those aspects of International Mock Trial that were new to UK competitors: for example, the use of objections within court.

As team coach I have fantastic memories of Empire V. To have had the opportunity to help pupils prepare for a competition on this scale and to have watched them compete so strongly against various schools from around the world was an absolute privilege. This competition is undoubtedly one of the most difficult that school pupils will ever have the opportunity to be part of; however it is particularly beneficial because of the whole ethos of the weekend. Very often the desire to succeed is something which overrides values such as civility and sportsmanship. It is refreshing to be part of a competition where pupils are encouraged to interact with their competitors and benefit from the opportunity to build relationships that span the globe.

The experience school pupils gain at the Empire City Invitational really is priceless. I certainly hope to be able to provide another team of students with the same unforgettable experience as last year’s team had at Empire V.

– Susan Gregg, Mock Trial Coach

Life or indeed life’s experiences can be defined by different things – the friendships you make and continue, your achievements which prove your capabilities and application, the sense of satisfaction of stepping up to a challenge of premium proportions or the growth of your perspective as you indulge in new cultures or peoples from across the globe. The unique beauty of Empire is that it is undoubtedly defined by each of the above. Four intense days of competition in Kings County Supreme Court was a treat for all mock ‘triallists’ and coaches, whether budding lawyers or not. Its impact and significance on the World Mock Trial stage is unarguably both crucial and unprecedented.

- Simon Hunter, Student Attorney

It was by far the best experience of my life! I’ll actually never forget it – the people we met and the whole experience!

- Meghan Christie, Student Attorney & Witness

As much as the Empire City Invitational was an amazing experience in terms of the thrill of the courtroom and the challenge of facing other International teams, I loved it because our team became so close and had the best craic [N.I. term for a fun experience!] both during the competition and also as we experienced NYC. It was a class way to end our Bar Mock experience – a great opportunity in relation to the social side as well as the competitive aspect.

- Christy Gregg, Student Attorney


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