PHOTO GALLERY: Norwich Crown Court plays host as youngsters from across East Anglia battle it out

Robes were donned and wigs adjusted as sharp young legal minds battled it out at Norwich Crown Court to make it through to the final of a national contest.

Students at schools from across East Anglia came together on Saturday as part of the 21st Annual Bar National Mock Trial Competition, in which teams competed to make it through to a final at London's Old Bailey.

And where wizened pros normally argue the case for and against a defendant, this time it was young talent clashing over the finer points of case law, with the best legal team picked as winner.

One of those competing for Beccles' Sir John Leman High School was Lauren Cropley, who acted as prosecuting barrister in a mock case involving the videoing of an assault.

With high hopes to study law and French at the University of East Anglia next year, the 17-year-old explained that she and a group of around ten students had been meeting twice a week after school since September in preparation for the big day.

She said: 'It was surreal to be in the court, but it was also a really big adrenaline rush.

'You wouldn't think just talking to someone could be like that but you have a real judge there. It's pretty daunting at first and it was pretty tough but as you get into character it's a real buzz.

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'I definitely want to become a barrister, and I want to study international law. Fingers crossed I will be able to.'

Among the other seven schools taking part in the regional finals were Wymondham College and Springwood High School in King's Lynn, with students acting in court as barristers, witnesses, jurors and courtroom staff.

The event is run by the Citizenship Foundation, and involves more than 2,500 GCSE and A level students from across the UK, with 16 regional winners making it through to the final in March.

The eventual winners of the regional contest were Chelmsford County High School for Girls.

Andy Thornton, chief executive of the Citizenship Foundation, explained that the competition helped build confidence and increase an understanding of wider society, as well as developing young minds.

He said: 'There's a real buzz here today and a nervous but positive energy from those at the schools at being involved with something with a competitive edge that helps understanding of how the law works.'

•Is your school battling against the best? Contact reporter John Owens on 01603 772439.