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Bethan Ashton, law student at the old bailey
Edge Hill student reaches BPP Advocate of the Year grand final

Bethan Ashton who is studying LLB (Hons) Law at Edge Hill University qualified for the grand final of the BPP Advocate of the Year national competition after advancing through the regional heats.

The annual competition was held in the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales and is run by BPP University Law School (BPP). ‘Advocate of the Year’ is one of the most prestigious advocacy competitions representing universities from across the country. Judges score the advocates on a variety of elements including application of the law, conference, examination-in-chief, cross-examination and closing speeches, with an emphasis on how they put across their case and undermined the other side’s.

Bethan shares with us her experience of the competition and what it means to her to reach the final.

“Reflecting on my journey to the grand final of the ‘Advocate of the Year’ competition brings a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. This experience wasn’t just a contest; it was an intense journey that challenged and taught me. To have competed at this level was such an honour, one that speaks volumes about the hard work, dedication, and passion I’ve poured into my legal studies and advocacy training.

Last year, I had the privilege of participating in the regional heats, with competitors from universities across the UK each selected on their advocacy abilities and put forward for the competition. The competition immersed me in a complex criminal law scenario, requiring meticulous preparation for a pre-trial interview and a cross-examination. This phase was not just about showcasing my proficiency in legal advocacy and my foundational knowledge of criminal law but also about demonstrating my adeptness in witness handling – a critical skill in the art of being a barrister.

The grand final was structured around two trials, each a test of endurance and skill, encompassing cross-examination, examination-in-chief, pre-trial conference, and closing statements. This rigorous format was designed to push my capabilities to their limits, all under the discerning eyes of practicing barristers and esteemed teachers of legal advocacy. The experience was intense and challenged every ounce of my preparation and poise, but it was unequivocally rewarding. Standing in the Old Bailey, engaging in the very practice that defines the legal profession, I felt a profound connection to the law and a deep appreciation for the opportunity to grow as an advocate.

The competition was, without a doubt, a pivotal moment in my legal education, offering a real-world application of my studies and a tangible measure of my potential in the field of law.

The competition provided me with an unparalleled platform to refine my advocacy techniques, enhance my legal reasoning, and develop a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of legal argumentation and criminal mock trial. Beyond the legal skills honed during this competition, the experience offered a rare opportunity to engage with a community of talented peers and legal professionals who shared a common goal of excellence in law. The connections made, the insights gained, and the feedback received have been invaluable, shaping not only my approach to law but also my perspective on my future career.

This experience has been a defining moment in my early legal journey, highlighting the importance of perseverance, continuous learning, and the pursuit of excellence.

Participating in the grand final of the ‘Advocate of the Year’ competition was more than just an honour; it was a transformative experience that I will cherish throughout my career. It was a privilege to stand among the best, to test my limits, and to be recognised for my hard work and potential. As I look forward to what the future holds, I carry with me the lessons learned, the confidence gained, and a profound gratitude for the opportunity to have been a part of such a prestigious competition as provided by Edge Hill University.”

Bethan Ashton, LLB (Hons) Law 

Headshot of Jennifer-Giblin

“We are incredibly proud of Bethan’s success in the competition. It was a pleasure to witness her excellent performance in the final after months of hard work, which included balancing the competition alongside her studies, law society role and personal commitments.

Students’ engagement in extra-curricular activities such as these is essential for their skills and career development, and, as a School, we are always delighted to support our students with such endeavours. It is a real privilege to see students grow from these opportunities and begin the first steps on their career journeys.”

Dr Jennifer Giblin
Associate Head of School – Employability & External Relations
School of Law

To succeed in the legal world, you need to be resilient, confident and analytical. At Edge Hill University we are dedicated to developing our students’ skills, knowledge and experience from day one.

May 3, 2024