Above: The Smith Prize, featuring a striking carving of a musk ox, is the award that goes to First Place Teams in the Laskin Memorial Moot competitions. McGill Law teams brought this prize home in 1988, 1991, 1999, 2005, 2008 and 2011.
The Faculty’s moot teams began their competitions in February and have amassed some stellar results thus far, taking first-place in three separate moots with more competitions to come in March
By Victoria Leenders-Cheng
Spring is the season of moots at the Faculty, when scores of third-year students disappear into feverish preparations to argue a hypothetical or simulated case in a courtroom setting, and this season opened with a bang in February.
Four teams competed in separate competitions and each came away with a host of prizes. At the national Laskin Moot in Ottawa, where Catherine Gleason-Mercier, Saro Setrakian, Perri Ravon and Joel Lightbound argued before a bench presided by Supreme Court justice Louise Charron.
Alexander Pless, the team’s coach, noted that Madame Charron even remarked at one point that “the pleadings were worthy of an appearance before the Supreme Court.”
Added Setrakian, “The way that competitive mooting brings together otherwise disparate elements of legal education is not like anything else I have done in law school.”
“You get to take a rich problem through every step… Having to tackle the entire process means learning strategy and teamwork in a way that you can’t from most classes; having it culminate in thorough questioning by a judge means being obliged to think about your arguments more rigorously than you might be accustomed to as a student.”
In early February, Anja Kortenaar and Katrina Peddle earned a first-place victory in the provincial, “Coupe Guy-Guérin” round of the Sopinka Cup.
The pair had logged many hours in practice sessions, enticing friends, family and fellow students into acting as practice witnesses for examination and cross-examination by offering free cupcakes, Kortenaar said. The competition trial threw them a few curveballs nevertheless, with colorful on-the-stand theatrics from the accused and from the victim, as well as a piece of witness testimony that forced the team to cut an entire page of their closing argument.
At the end of the day, Peddle took home the prize for Best Opening and Best Closing went to Kortenaar, in addition to their first-place team finish and both mooters declared their enthusiasm for the national round in Ottawa in March.
At the Université de Montréal for the Pierre-Basile Mignault moot, the team of Seth Abbey, Hugues Doré-Bergeron, Émilie Forgues-Bundock and Vincent Ranger swept the entire competition, taking home first place in all categories, including best factum and best pleading.
Pierre-Gabriel Jobin, the team’s coach, described the final as an apt challenge for the team: “Before judges Louis LeBel of the Supreme Court, Nicholas Kasirer of the Court of Appeal and Guylaine Beaugé of the Superiour Court, [the team of] Hugues Doré-Bergeron and Vincent Ranger… faced abundant and difficult questions from the judges and provided responses that were consistently satisfactory and often brilliant.”
The students’ success, Jobin added, “is due to their talents and their hard work, of course, but also to their remarkable team spirit.”
Rounding out the month was the Gale Cup Competition in Toronto on February 25-26, during which third-year student Safia Lakhani was named the best female mooter of the competition and became the first to take home the inaugural McLachlin Prize for the honour.
UPDATE on 8 March 2011: the McGill Jessup team had an excellent performance at the Canadian Rounds of the Jessup International Moot Court Competition, held this year in Calgary. The team members, consisting of Timothy Bottomer, Jonathan Katz, Ishat Reza and Eva Warden, placed third overall, (Canadian National Championship Team – Bronze Rank, Donat Pharand Award) and thus qualified for the exhibition round of the Jessup Finals in Washington DC later this month.
In addition, Eva Warden and Ishat Reza won best applicant memorial. Warden and Reza also won best applicant team for combined oral and memorial scores. Eva Warden placed among the top ten oralists.
UPDATE on 9 March 2011: Joseph Flowers and Charlotte Burns, coached by Prof. Kirsten Anker and Me Lysane Cree, took part in the Kawaskimhon Moot this past weekend. The Kawaskimhon is non-competitive: there are no prizes, no winners, no losers. Instead, it involves oral presentations within the conceptual framework of a talking circle and aims at consensus-building.
UPDATE on 15 March 2011: McGill took first place in the 2011 Sarin Leiden International Air Law Moot Court Competition held March 12-15, 2011, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Auguste Hocking (Australia), Joseph Wheeler (Australia) and Mithun Pemmaiah (India) are all composed of graduate students in the McGill Institute of Air & Space Law. They were coached by DCL candidate, Paul FitzGerald (Canada). The Leiden Moot team also placed first in oral argument for both the Applicant’s and Respondent’s side of the competition. The problem addressed issues of aviation safety in light of a volcanic eruption, emissions charges, traffic rights, cabotage and foreign ownership and control.
Trophy winner for best school; Both Appellant and Respondent teams selected for final round; Best Factum; Appellant team selected as second-place team overall; Third-place Oralist to Perri Ravon
Team: Catherine Gleason-Mercier, Joel Lightbound, Perri Ravon and Saro Setrakian
Coach: Alexander Pless
Special thanks: Professors Evan Fox-Decent, Alana Klein, Hoi Kong and Robert Leckey; Me. Helena Lamed
Sopinka (Coupe Guy-Guérin)
First-place Team Prize; Best Opening; Best Closing
Team: Katrina Peddle and Anja Koortenar
Coaches: Prof. Ronald Sklar and Me. Julio Peris
Special thanks: Justice Allan Hilton, Justice Patrick Healy, Me. Thierry Nadon, Me. Rose-Mélanie Drivod, Me. Alexandre Bien-Aimé
First-place Team Prize (Meilleure équipe); Best Factum (Meilleure mémoire) and 2nd-place Factum (2e meilleur mémoire); Best Pleading Team (Meilleur tandem de plaideurs); Best Pleader (Meilleur plaideur) to Vincent Ranger
Team: Seth Abbey, Hugues Doré-Bergeron, Émilie Forgues-Bundock and Vincent Ranger
Coach: Pierre-Gabriel Jobin
Special thanks: Professors Geneviève Saumier and Lara Khoury; Judges Daniel Payette and Catherine Mandeville; Mes Philippe Dufort-Langlois, Marianna Ferraro, Geneviève Bertrand, Jean Lortie, Rachel Laferrière, Geneviève Bergeron, and Louis Brosseau; and Mignault 2010 team member Olivier Archambault-Lafond
Best female mooter (McLachlin Prize): Safia Lakhani
Team: Alexander Carrier, Naomi Greckol-Herlich, Elena Haba and Safia Lakhani
Coach: Mes Robert Israel and Annabelle Sheppard
Third best overall team: Canadian National Championship Team – Bronze Rank, Winner of the Donat Pharand Award; Best Applicant Memorial and Best Applicant Team for combined oral and memorial scores to Eva Warden and Ishat Reza;
Team: Timothy Bottomer, Jonathan Katz, Ishat Reza and Eva Warden, and thus qualified for the exhibition round of the Jessup Finals in Washington DC later this month.
Coaches: Prof. Payam Akhavan and Me Cara Cameron
Team: Joseph Flowers and Charlotte Burns
Coaches: Prof. Kirsten Anker and Me Lysane Cree
Sarin Leiden International Air Law Moot Court
First Place overall. First Place for Applicant. Fist Place for Respondent.
Team: Auguste Hocking (Australia), Joseph Wheeler (Australia) and Mithun Pemmaiah (India), all graduate students in the Institute of Air & Space Law (IASL).
Coach: Paul FitzGerald (Canada), DCL candidate at the IASL.