Harrison Moot | News and Events | Fall & Winter 2021 | NEXUS Magazine | The Faculty of Law | UNB

Global Site Navigation (use tab and down arrow)

Faculty of Law
UNB Fredericton

Back to NEXUS Magazine

59th Harrison Moot returns to in-person advocacy

This September, second-year law students Frank Gillies, Destiny Grant, Rebekah Robbins, and Duncan Wallace competed in the 59th edition of The Hon. William Henry Harrison Moot Court Competition, an annual event showcasing the students receiving the highest grades in the oral advocacy component of the first-year mooting program. For the first time in nearly two years, mooters, judges, and spectators gathered in the Mary Louise Lynch Room to enjoy the competition in-person

The mooters argued the fictional case, The Student Association for Gender Equality v. University of New Brunswick, which examined whether gendered bursaries violated New Brunswick’s Human Rights Act and/or were contrary to public policy. The bursaries in question were gifted to the University by way of will, which dictated that they be awarded to a female student in the Faculty of Engineering and a male student in the Faculty of Education. Counsel for the appellant (Robbins and Wallace) were tasked with arguing that the awards violated the Human Rights Act and Public Policy. In contrast, counsel for the respondent (Gillies and Grant) were tasked with defending the bursaries on both grounds.

Preparation for the Harrison is arduous. Mooters devote countless hours to reading relevant case law and constructing their arguments, beginning the moment the problem is assigned.

For Grant, gearing up for the moot involved a great deal of mental preparation. In addition to the constant revision of both the written and oral submissions, she rehearsed her oral arguments in front of her peers, friends and family members, urging them to interrupt with questions for a more realistic practice experience. This approach helped to better frame her oral arguments, ensuring they could be reordered on the spot if necessary.

Similarly, Wallace fine-tuned his argument up until the morning of the competition. He echoes his colleague’s sentiment on the importance of being prepared.

"Any moot requires rigorous preparation, especially when the moot is being adjudicated by such an esteemed panel of justices. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the jurisprudence, knowing both the strong and weak points of the case, and to anticipate questions that will be asked."

This years’ panel was composed of the Hon. Justice Kathleen Quigg of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, the Hon. Justice Anne Wooder and the Hon. Justice Denise Leblanc, both of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench.

All four participants enjoyed the opportunity to present legal arguments to such knowledgeable Justices, and, despite some initial feelings of nervousness, are thankful for the opportunity to test the waters of appellate litigation.

"I don’t think I ever felt fully prepared, going into it," said Gillies. "You try and anticipate the sort of questions they will ask, but you can never really predict what they’re going to be interested in. The questions came in hot, and a fair few of them were completely unexpected. However, I enjoyed the back-and-forth and felt like I could get a handle on it towards the end."

Robbins adds, "You will always have weaknesses, particularly in a moot. The reason certain problems are chosen is that they are hard and novel. It’s important not to look away from those weaknesses but know how you plan to address them when they arise."

The Harrison is one of UNB Law’s oldest and most important traditions, with each year’s participants contributing to its legacy. Over the decades it has featured many high-quality and competitive moots, and this year was certainly no exception.

All of our counsel displayed the oral advocacy skills the moot was created to promote. Following closing remarks by each party, the panel of Justices was assigned the difficult task of selecting two students who displayed the strongest oral advocacy skills to be awarded the 2021 Harrison Shield. After some thoughtful deliberation, the Shield was awarded to Frank Gillies and Rebekah Robbins.

"I was indescribably happy to be awarded the Shield. There was fierce competition, both between the teams who participated and all the students in our year," said Robbins, sharing that this experience resulted in a significant boost in confidence regarding her ability to litigate successfully.

In addition to bragging rights, the pair are rewarded by having their names engraved on the Harrison Shield alongside past winners such as retired professor and former Dean Karl Dore, the Hon. Frank McKenna, former Premier of New Brunswick, the Hon. Ernest Drapeau, former Chief Justice of New Brunswick, and Dean Camille Cameron, to name a few.

Thank you to the panel of judges for volunteering their time, Prof. Jane Thomson and Ed Bowes for organizing the event, and David Anderson for providing technical support. A special thank you to the Teed family for their ongoing support of the moot.

By Adora Bustard

Continue reading this issue of NEXUS