Moots let law students practice their skills
Building consensus and negotiating success at 2015-2016 moot competitions
Robson Hall had another rewarding mooting season this year.
Thirty-one students participated in a number of events involving a variety of dispute resolution approaches in many different areas of private and public law. A complete listing of all events, students and coaches is set out below. The Faculty wishes to recognize the outstanding work of all our students and coaches. Each Robson Hall team did us proud.
Of particular note this year is the performance of Steve Falkingham who placed second among oral advocates participating in the Harold G. Fox Moot in Intellectual Property Law. Robson Hall first participated in this national event three years ago at the invitation of Supreme Court of Canada Justice Marshall Rothstein (now retired), who is a distinguished alumnus of and former lecturer for our school.
Robson Hall could not offer the moot experience to students without the wonderful support we continually receive from the legal community. We truly appreciate it. An incredible group of coaches from the faculty, bar and bench support our students every step of the way, while many other members of the legal community give their time to explain complex areas of the law, review written briefs or act as practice judges.
The Faculty also thanks all of our donors for their support. These generous people and organizations also tend either to be part of or connected to the legal community.
This year a student group, the Robson Hall Employment and Labour Law Club, made an outstanding contribution as well – they took the initiative of sending four students to the Sports and Entertainment Law Society’s Hockey Arbitration Competition of Canada in Toronto, a highly popular event that is entirely student-run.
On behalf of the students, staff and faculty at Robson Hall, thank you to everyone for your support.
-on behalf of Sarah Lugtig, Director of Experiential Learning
In November 2015, Jonathan Katz and Ryan Gorlick (who had both placed first in the Robson Hall 2015 Negotiation competition) represented Robson Hall as one of seven law schools to compete at the American Bar Association Regional Negotiation competition in Calgary, Alberta.
Michael Weinstein, partner at Hill Sokalski Walsh Olsen LLP, and Steven Meltzer of Duboff Edwards Haight & Schachter LLP (who themselves competed in this event while in law school) coached the team together with Marla Billinghurst, Robson Hall’s Director of Career Development.
According to Katz, moot competitions are a fantastic learning opportunity.
“The negotiation competition was undoubtedly a positive experience for Ryan and I,” said Katz. “We learned many valuable lessons – ones we’ll carry forward with us throughout our careers.”
Donor support for our participation in this event is generously provided by The Marcel A. Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law.
From November 8 to 10, 2015, the Robson Hall Employment and Labour Law Club sent four students to the Sports and Entertainment Law Society’s Hockey Arbitration Competition of Canada in Toronto.
Robson Hall students Jennifer McKinnon, Nikki Philp, Joe Caligiuri and Sharu Ratnajothy attended the event for the first time in its three years of operation.
The event is a moot competition for law students designed to simulate salary arbitration procedures used in the National Hockey League. Teams represent one of three real-life NHL players who went through the arbitration process over the summer. Each team takes one side of the case – club or player – and competes by writing briefs and making arguments on the fairness of the salary amount the player stands to receive.
This year, players included forward Marcus Johansson of the Washington Capitals, whose midpoint salary is $3.75 million; defenceman Justin Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers, whose midpoint salary was $3.9 million; and Mike Hoffman, a forward with the Ottawa Senators whose midpoint salary was $2 million.
Nicholas Rossi, then a third-year student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (and this year’s competition judge), created the moot in 2012.
“I got to see firsthand the quality of the competition,” said Rossi. “The level of competition was high.”
Rossi got his idea for the moot in his first year at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, where a similar event (focused on baseball instead of hockey) happened.
After transferring to U of T for his second year, Rossi wanted to do something similar in Canada.
“People love hockey,” said Rossi. “There’s a big market for it. People are passionate about it.”
This year’s arbitration included 32 teams with representatives from most law schools in Ontario and from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec.
Eighteen teams from nine law schools across Canada competed in the Harold G. Fox Moot over the February 19-21 weekend.
Robson Hall students Stacey Dunn, Scott Birse, Ranish Raveendrabose, and Steve Falkingham travelled to Toronto to represent Robson Hall in the Fox Moot. Falkingham and Dunn served as respondents, and Birse and Raveendrabose served as appellants.
The students pleaded a copyright case involving an artist licensing their work to a large conglomerate who then (supposedly) used the work for ill. While Robson Hall didn’t win, they still performed well with Falkingham taking runner-up for the Donald F. Sim Award for best oral advocate.
“I’m very proud,” said Prof. Porcin, one of the students’ coaches. “I think they did very well. They were the only non-Ontario team to get a prize. Stellar work.
“Moots are also great because the students really got to network – they were able to talk to judges and other members of the legal community. They had dinner with former Supreme Court Justice Rothstein, and one judge who wasn’t even evaluating our team came to congratulate them on their performances.
“In typical Manitoba fashion, the students were splendid in an understated way.”
Big thanks to coaches John Myers, Michael Jason and to the rest of Winnipeg’s legal community for their support in the moot.
The regional round for law schools in the western provinces is called the MacIntyre Cup. This year’s competition took place February 5 and 6 in Calgary, Alberta.
Robson Hall’s team in Western Canada’s Trial Moot Competition included Ryan McElhoes and Paul Kathler, who had placed first and second respectively in Robson Hall’s 2015 trial competition.
Coached by the Honourable Justice Richard Saull of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and Judy Kliewer of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the students say their experience was one of the best they’ve had in law school.
“The chance to have in-depth instruction from a sitting Queen’s Bench judge and an experienced federal prosecutor was without a doubt the highlight of law school for me,” said Kathler. “Ryan and I both improved markedly in both our advocacy ability and in our confidence thanks to Justice Saull and Ms. Kliewer. We can’t thank them enough.”
Thanks to Hill Sokalski Walsh Olson LLP of Winnipeg for their support in our participation in this event.
Taking place February 18 and 19 in Toronto, the Gale Cup Moot is Canada’s premier bilingual law-school mooting competition.
Robson Hall students participating in the Gale Cup cited the experience as some of the most valuable in their legal educational careers.
“The Gale Cup was the most challenging – and rewarding – experience in my legal education so far,” said Rachel Wood, second-year law student. “Feeling that support and encouragement from our coaches – Ami Kotler and Georgia Couturier from Manitoba Prosecutions and from Prof. Debra Parkes – was one of the highlights of the experience.
“Practicing in front of members of the Manitoba Bar and Judiciary was humbling, but the practical aspect helped me grow – the whole experience is definitely going to help me in the future.”
“Being involved in the Gale Cup moot was an incredibly enriching experience,” said Melody Burke, second-year law student. “Beyond developing advocacy skills and being fully immersed in a complex legal issue, the moot provided an unprecedented opportunity for me to engage with both the Manitoba legal community and with law students from across Canada.”
Robson Hall’s team at this year’s Corporate/Securities Moot in March consisted of Sharyne Hamm, David Meier, Desiree Hale, and Kelsey MacKay. Fillmore Riley LLP’s Ari Hanson (who graduated from the Faculty of Law as the gold medallist of the competition in 2012) and Robson Hall professor Darcy MacPherson have coached students in the moot for the last two years.
The coaches helped team members with factum preparation and practice rounds. Hanson accompanied the team to Toronto, acting as their coach at the competition itself.
Recognized as the leading event of its kind in Canada, the annual competition, hosted by Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg in Toronto, provides an opportunity for top students from law schools across Canada to argue a mock Supreme Court appeal involving legal issues in corporate and securities law.
The students’ performance is judged by senior practitioners from Toronto law firms and corporations, regulators from the Ontario Securities Commission, and judges from several courts. A panel of distinguished guest judges including The Honourable Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver of the Supreme Court of Canada judged this year’s final round.
“I am very proud of this year’s team of students,” said Ari. “The amount of work the students put into preparation for the competition goes above and beyond any sort of normal course work.”
Travis Delaronde, Colborne Poapst and Jared Wheeler – all third-year law students – represented Robson Hall at this year’s Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Law Moot in Toronto from March 11 to March 13, 2016.
Professors Brenda Gunn and Wendy Whitecloud coached the team.
Queen’s University’s Faculty of Law hosted the moot, which took place in Kingston, Ontario, on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.
A total of 17 law schools from across Canada participated.
Kawaskimhon is a word of Cree origin which can be translated to “speaking with knowledge”. The moot is unique in that it incorporates principles of Indigenous law and uses a talking circle format in an effort to build consensus among participants instead of a more traditional, adversarial process.
This year’s moot focused on several issues raised by the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the implementation in Canadian law of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the reconciliation of Crown and Indigenous legal orders in Canada.
The Walsh Family Law Moot Competition was established by Osgoode Hall Law School to “foster relations between law schools and practitioners, to encourage the study of family law, and to increase knowledge among law students.”
This year’s competition on Saturday, March 12 in the Ontario Court of Appeal building in Toronto saw Robson Hall’s team competing against six other teams from Ontario, receiving strong marks on both their oral and written submissions.
“This is the second year a team from outside Ontario participated in the moot,” said coach Jena Colpitts, Taylor McCaffrey LLP. “It was great the students made such a strong showing.
According to Colpitts, the support of the Manitoba bench and family law bar was vital in making sure our students showed up to compete.
“All four second-year students – Arshdeep Sandhu, Samantha Wong, Agapi Mavridis and Anita Balakumar – were most grateful for the opportunity to practice before and receive feedback from our guest judges in Manitoba,” said Colpitts. “The Walsh Family Law Moot – for the second year in a row – had incredible participation from the bench and family law bar. By the time the students arrived in Toronto, their oral presentations were polished and confident.
“On behalf of myself and co-coaches Lawrence Pinsky, Lori Douglas, Norm Yusim and Hilary Taylor, we want to thank everyone who supported the University of Manitoba Walsh Family Law Moot team.”
The Laskin Moot is a bilingual constitutional and administrative law moot hosted by a different law school each year. This year’s Laskin Moot happened in Vancouver, BC in March, and was attended by 19 schools across Canada.
Robson Hall’s Laskin mooters – coached by Denis Guénette of Manitoba Justice’s Civil Legal Services, Joel Guénette of the University of Manitoba Office of Legal Counsel, Professor Aimée Craft and Robson Hall French Language Program Coordinator Guillaume Dragon of the University of Manitoba, and Joëlle Pastora Sala of the Public Interest Law Centre – were Faye Brandson, Samantha Holloway, Stephanie Savoie and Cheyne Hodson. The students developed their oral advocacy and legal writing skills, with Brandson distinguishing herself by ranking 10th among oral advocates.
“The Laskin was a great learning opportunity,” said Hodson. “Developing practical legal skills like legal writing and oral advocacy is sure to serve us well in our legal careers.
“It was also a great opportunity to network – we met judges, practising lawyers, academics and fellow students from across Canada in a formal courtroom setting as well as in more casual settings.”