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Mark Browne to clerk at the SCC

Third-year student Mark Browne has been selected to clerk for The Hon. Justice Suzanne Côté at the Supreme Court of Canada. Mark will begin his one-year term in August of 2024, following the completion of a clerkship at the Ontario Court of Appeal. For Browne, the clerkship represents an opportunity to continue a lifelong commitment to public service. 

“Having sat in the legislature and been a part of the executive branch as a parliamentary secretary to a premier and a cabinet minister, I've sat on the inside of two of the three branches of government. The chance to work behind the judicial curtain is an incredible opportunity to learn immensely at the feet of legal giants and contribute to a very strong institution in our country.”

The call from the Supreme Court came at a busy time for Browne. He was in Winnipeg preparing for a full day of mooting at the Jessup Moot on International Law. Just minutes away from their first moot on Friday, he and his team were straightening their ties and preparing their final notes when the phone rang. During the preparations for the Jessup, Browne’s teammates became accustomed to him stepping out from time to time to take phone calls from former colleagues and past constituents from his time as a Member of Newfoundland and Labrador’s House of Assembly. Their immediate reaction to his phone ringing just minutes before the moot was: “Mark, we don't have time for your phone calls today.”

“I, of course, stepped aside and took the call,” said Browne. “On the other end was Justice Côté. We had a lovely conversation during which she asked me to come work with her and wished me luck in the moot.” 

After finishing the call, Mark briefly celebrated with his teammates before entering the moot where he and his partner presented arguments on the fine points of international law for two hours. It wasn’t until after it was over that Mark had the opportunity to share the news with the team’s coaches, Prof. Panezi and Dean Marin. More celebrating ensued.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of many people at UNB Law, particularly Prof. Jane Thompson, the head of our clerkship committee and my assigned mentor. I would also like to acknowledge my other esteemed referees, Dean Marin, Prof. La Forest and Prof. Perryman, who took time away from their busy work to write reference letters for me. Martha McClellan, our Career Services Officer, also assisted me in assembling my application.”

Browne was struck by the Faculty’s culture of mentorship and the support he received from his fellow students.

“I had support from all corners: staff, faculty, and my fellow students. We are all very supportive of each other here at UNB Law and like to see each other succeed. At times, it felt like they were even more invested in the outcome than me. It was incredible to know that everyone was there for me no matter how things turned out.”

As a member of a three-person clerkship team, Browne will work in both official languages to provide legal support to Justice Côté as she researches the law and writes her decisions. He has already connected with his fellow clerks for Justice Côté’s chambers and is looking forward to developing new friendships and professional relationships in the nation’s capital. He considers the opportunity to clerk at Canada’s top court to be the ultimate formative experience for a legal career.

“The SCC is at the vanguard of our most pressing legal, economic, and social questions. I’m looking forward to contributing a small part in helping the court address some of those critical issues that impact Canadians. Justice Côté is an incredibly important voice on the Court and has a storied background as a litigator before going to the Bench. As it turns out, we share a rural background and fishing heritage. She's from the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec and I am from the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador. I'm very much looking forward to developing a relationship with her.”

Students also heading to the Federal Court, Tax Court of Canada and New Brunswick Court of Appeal 

More UNB Law students will be clerking at courts across the country. Third-year students Kristen Connolly and Sean McEwan have accepted clerkship positions with the Tax Court of Canada, the federal court which deals with matters involving companies or individuals and tax issues with the Government of Canada. Recent graduate John Caldwell (JD ’21) will clerk for Justice MacDonald at the Federal Court of Canada.

Second-year student Devon Gallacher is heading to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, where she will clerk for The Hon. Chief Justice J.C. Marc Richard. An Ontario native, Gallacher completed her undergrad at the University of Guelph majoring in Child, Youth and Family Development with a minor in Criminal Justice. She will begin her clerkship in June of 2024.

“As I entered first-year, I didn’t even know what a clerkship was. It wasn’t until I attended one of the info sessions—and heard from professors who shared their clerkship experiences—that I realized this was a goal I wanted to work towards.”

For Devon, the opportunity to work with a judge and better understand the reasoning behind their decisions is once-in-a-lifetime; a chance to gain insight that would prove helpful throughout a legal career. She echoes her classmate’s acknowledgment of the support received throughout the application and interview process.

“Martha was hugely helpful throughout the process. She helped navigate the applications and provided lots of help troubleshooting. My faculty mentor worked tirelessly with me on my writing samples and on the editing—and re-editing—of my cover letter. Also, I want to thank my referees, Professors Thomson, Bowley and John Bird.”

After getting the call for an interview, Devon prepared by organizing a series of practice interviews with classmates and professors who had previously been through the clerkship interview process.

“These practice interviews were very useful; they helped me stay calm and feel prepared. I also did a lot of pacing around my living room, recording myself answering interview questions and listening to them back.”

Devon is a member of the UNB Law articling and placement committee. A group that meets weekly with the Career Services Officer to discuss objectives, needs, and career-related opportunities for UNB Law students. The student committee then works as a liaison to their classmates to promote these events and opportunities, encourage participation, and offer support and leadership.

Devon is looking forward to gaining in-firm experience this summer at Gowlings WLG in Hamilton. While her time with the province’s highest court is still over 12 months away, she is excited to have such a meaningful opportunity on the horizon.

“I'm looking forward to doing research primarily for the Chief Justice, but also for the other judges of the court as needed. We will be dealing with many complex legal issues—problems that could not be settled out of court and that are appealed on a matter of law. It is going to be challenging researching the law at such a granular level. It will also be an opportunity to canvass so many different areas of the law—criminal and family, and there could also be contractual issues or judicial review of administrative action. Working with these great legal minds only furthers my anticipation and excitement.”

Congratulations to these impressive clerkship recipients. We would also like to wish good luck to UNB Law students who are set to begin clerkships this August: Patrick Leger (JD ’22) and Katherine Peterson (JD ’22) will clerk for justices David W. Stratas and Wyman W. Webb at the Federal Court of Appeal; Ben Roizes will clerk for the Federal Court of Canada’s Hon. Justice Elizabeth Heneghan; and Daniel Escott (JD ’22) and Isaac MacLellan (JD ’22) will clerk at the Tax Court of Canada.

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