Laskin Moot brings French and English legal community together
It takes a village to train a moot team, as Associate Professor Gerald Heckman pointed out after completing another year as Laskin Moot Faculty Advisor. “Acting as a faculty advisor for a competitive appellate moot is probably one of the most rewarding teaching opportunities at Robson Hall,” he said, after the national bilingual appellate moot in Constitutional and Administrative Law wrapped up February 25 – 26. This year’s Laskin took place by videoconference.
“Advising the Laskin team allowed me to join forces with Katrine Dilay and Gabrielle Lisi, two experienced practitioners and Laskin veterans,” said Heckman, “to help a group of bright and motivated students develop their knowledge of Constitutional and Administrative law as well as their written and oral appellate advocacy skills in both of Canada’s official languages. It’s also wonderful to work with all the faculty colleagues, practitioners and judges who volunteer to judge our team practices. Their advice to our mooters is invaluable.”
Heckman also expressed gratitude to the Association des juristes d’expression française du Manitoba, which has for many years helped the Faculty to find moot judges for the team’s practices.
Coaches Katrine Dilay of Legal Aid Manitoba, and Gabrielle Lisi of Marr Finlayson Pollock LLP, know, all too well, the experience of taking part in the Laskin Moot, having been in the students’ shoes not too long ago, being alumni themselves.
“As a previous participant of the Laskin moot competition when I was in law school, being asked to participate as a coach was an incredible opportunity,” said Dilay, who competed in 2012 – 2013 and graduated from Robson Hall in 2014. “Watching the students successfully incorporate feedback into every draft of their written material and during every practice of their oral arguments showed how much work they were putting in and is a clear demonstration of the power of learning by doing.”
“The Laskin 2022 team should be very proud of what they accomplished and, as reflected in feedback they received from a Federal Court judge during one of their matches, they are ready to appear before the Federal Court!”
– Katrine Dilay [JD/2014]
Lisi, who both competed in the Laskin and graduated with her JD in 2015, said, “The students did an excellent job representing Robson Hall this year. Both teams worked incredibly hard over the past few months preparing their written materials and honing their skills as advocates. And their hard work paid off at the competition. I could not be prouder as a coach.”
The Laskin Moot is named in memory of one of Canada’s greatest legal scholars and jurists, the late Chief Justice Bora Laskin, and aims to foster a better and deeper understanding of the law and to support and encourage legal education and bilingualism while at the same time promoting in the legal community a spirit of cooperation and understanding that transcends linguistic and provincial boundaries.
At least one of the four students must argue the case (and write the corresponding portion of the factum) in English, and at least one must do the same in French. All judges assessing the factums are bilingual, and all judges in oral rounds are proficient in the language(s) being used in that round. Questions from the bench to a mooter are posed in the language being used by that mooter. Simultaneous interpretation is available upon request for any mooter who needs that service in order to understand the submissions of his/her opponents.
Robson Hall’s 2022 Laskin team consisted of second-year students Lauren Gowler and Samantha Harvey, and third-year students Zev Macklin, Mark Packulak, and researcher Janelle Gobin. Harvey both wrote her factum in French and mooted entirely in French. “Laskin was a fantastic opportunity to apply what I have learned about French advocacy in a practical setting with the help of great coaches,” she said.
With another year of law school ahead of her, this was a good introduction for Gowler. “The Laskin was a ton of work in two months! But I learned so much. The lessons and confidence I gained from this experience will certainly help with my future advocacy endeavours,” she said. “One of my favourite law school experiences thus far!”
Macklin agreed, saying, “The Laskin Moot was one of my highlights in law school. I loved working with my team in developing persuasive arguments, writing a strong factum and being challenged by many practice judges and in the competition. It was awesome to work with so many great people that generously donated their time and efforts.”
As team researcher, Janelle Gobin came to a new appreciation of administrative law after digging into her work on the team’s behalf. “I greatly enjoyed my experience as a researcher for the 2022 Laskin Moot Team,” she explained. “Our team did a fantastic job and it was a pleasure supporting them throughout their mooting journey!”
Finally, while he would have enjoyed an in-person experience that would have seen the team travelling to Toronto, Packulak admitted he had a “fantastic experience” despite another year of virtual mooting. “It was a privilege to be part of this team,” he said.