Mooting 2020-21| News and Events | Spring & Summer 2021 | NEXUS Magazine | The Faculty of Law | UNB

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UNB Law students win big at the McKelvey Cup

Congratulations to team UNB Law that took home 6 of 8 awards at the 20th annual McKelvey Cup Moot. The McKelvey Cup is a trial-level moot which sees mooters deliver direct and cross-examinations of witnesses (played by professional actors) as well as an opening or closing statement.

The defense team of Erik Arsenault (3L) and James Pinchak (2L) won second place overall, while the Crown representatives Chris Arisz (3L) and Navy Vezina (3L) placed third. Individually, Erik won best closing, James won best opening, and Chris won best direct and best overall advocate.

The group met weekly for practice sessions running between 3 and 5 hours, doubling their efforts as the moot drew closer.

“The preparation for the moot was rigorous,” noted Pinchak. “Our preparation began in the fall, but it really picked up in the weeks leading up to the competition as we were running full trials every week.”

Arsenault worked on 12 versions of his closing, averaging one a day in the weeks leading up to the competition.

“I was pretty far afield at first but, thanks to Prof. Thomson’s patience and devotion, we finally got the closing where it needed to be. Of course, there were some days where I was pretty frustrated with it and thought about just doing Atticus Finch's speech. But every draft got a little better, and getting the chance to do it at practice and feel like the fate of the accused was tied to this closing made it worth it. Then I won best closing. That made it so much more worthwhile!”

Navy Vezina considers the McKelvey Cup to be one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences of her time in law school.

“It is so unique from the other Moots offered. Preparing was tricky because trials are all about presenting evidence and testimony in the most clear and obvious way. The reality is that your case is never clear or obvious and you want to hit your head against the wall over the things your client has done. I made timeline charts of when the events happened to create a thread that I communicated to the jury. I feel confident about my ability to conduct a trial from start to finish; leaving law school with that feeling is invaluable.”

“This is a huge accomplishment, and I am so proud of them,” said Prof. Jane Thomson, the team’s coach. “These students practiced extremely hard. Some of them even getting up in the middle of the night and practicing their openings, closings, or crosses. They never complained and took criticism really well. Whatever the guest judges asked of them, they did. On the day of the moot, all of them demonstrated how an effective trial advocate represents their clients.”

Thanking an army of supporters

Alumnus Jim Lockyer (LLB ’75) assisted the team in the fall with intensive sessions in trial advocacy. Lockyer is a former Attorney General of New Brunswick, law professor, and renowned trial advocacy lawyer. Prof. Lockyer drove to Fredericton every Friday to teach UNB’s McKelvey team a condensed trial advocacy course.

“Working with Jim was a real treat,” said Arisz. “It's clear that his wisdom put us all years ahead of where we would have been without it. This kind of mooting did not always come naturally, so it really made the difference having an examination-toolbelt to rely upon.”

Prof. Thomson and her mooters would like to thank their all-star team of volunteer witnesses—students Raylene MacKey (2L), Benjamin Roizes (2L), Abigail Smith (3L), and Nicholas Stewart (3L)—who acted as the trial witnesses and attended every practice leading up to the moot.

“Law school doesn't often give students the chance to examine or cross-examine witnesses,” said Arsenault. “We got to practice real trial skills on witnesses brought to life by our colleagues. We got the chance to object to each other and run our respective theories of the case through the gauntlet.”

Finally, the McKelvey team would like to thank the panel of guest judges who helped the students prepare for the competition, Judge Cameron Gunn (LLB ‘93), of the New Brunswick Provincial Court, Solomon Friedman, Criminal Lawyer and Partner at Friedman Mansour LLP in Ottawa, and Rebecca Law, Crown Counsel with the Crown Law Office in Toronto.

Virtual mooting across the country

The Donald G.H. Bowman National Tax Moot

Blaine Cowan (3L), Joshua Merrigan (3L), Lucas Savini (2L) and Stuart Wallace (2L) competed in the Donald G.H. Bowman National Tax Moot. The team of Joshua and Stuart won the prize for Best Respondent Factum at the competition.

“We were absolutely thrilled to win, happy to see our hard work pay off,” said Wallace. “It was great to be able to represent UNB Law and show that we can compete with any school. Josh and I will both be starting articles this summer with Stewart McKelvey, so we are pleased to establish a strong working relationship early on. Hopefully, it will not be the last time Josh and I get to pair up to tackle a legal issue.”

The team was coached by Jack Blackier (Cox & Palmer), Kathryn Leblanc (3L) and Prof. Vokhid Urinov.

The Gale Cup

Sean Corscadden (2L), Kaitlan Huckabone (2L), Jake Humphrey (3L) and Alden Spencer (2L) represented UNB Law at the 2021 Gale Cup. The team was coached by Prof. Greg Bowley and assisted by Alexandra Dejong (3L). Kaitlan and Alden’s respondent’s factum tied for second best written submission of the competition.

“The mooting problem was really interesting,” said Huckabone. “It was an appeal of the SCC decision, R. v. Ahmad, 2020 SCC 11, that saw the Court determining when a phone conversation during a dial-a-dope investigation becomes entrapment. The actual SCC decision was very close with a strong dissent, so there was a lot for both sides to work with.”

The Jessup International Law Moot

Alexander Carleton (3L), Caitlin Gallant (3L), Kathryn Power (3L) and Erik Stiller (2L) examined international responsibility for a state’s response to a pandemic at the 2021 Jessup. The team was coached by Dean Marin and Erik Arsenault (3L). UNB Law competed in both the Canadian and international rounds of the competition.

“My experience with the Jessup was a source of connection during the virtual school year,” said Power. “We were lucky to have all team members and coaches in Fredericton, which allowed for in-person socially distanced practices. I enjoyed the process of working in an entirely new area of law while trying to solve a complex problem.”

The Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot

Jennifer Bueno (2L), Graeme Hiebert (2L), Jeremy MacDonald (3L) and Alexandra Youssef (2L) participated in the 2021 edition of the Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot. The team was coached by Dr. Nicole O’Byrne, Gillian Paul (JD ’12), Legal and Governance Advisor at the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick, and Michiko Merasty-Gartshore (3L).

“Unlike traditional moots, the Kawaskimhon focuses on negotiation and consensus-building,” said Hiebert. “I would make the argument that it sharpens skills that are far more relevant to the modern practice of law than the other, purely advocacy-based moots. In an era where very few cases actually go to trial, the ability to listen to the other side while concurrently making decisions on where to be flexible and where to push for your positions are skills that will benefit lawyers once they get out into the real world and settlement becomes the de facto goal.”

The Wilson Moot

Sarah MacCallum (3L), Edouard McIntyre (3L), Julia O'Hanley (2L), Nicole Pelletier (3L) and researcher Margaret Rondot (3L) competed in the 2021 Wilson Moot. The team was coached by Prof. Kerri Froc and student co-coaches Caitlin Gallant (3L) and Dominique Goguen (3L).

“Although I think I speak for all of us when I say that we would rather have mooted in person,” said O’Hanley, “virtual mooting did provide us with unique skills—which was an unexpected benefit of the experience. As our judges told us during the competition, it is possible—and perhaps likely—that virtual court might outlast the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning to litigate in a virtual context might have provided us with a practical advantage for appearing in virtual hearings in our future legal practice.”

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