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Justice students moot their way to the top at Ottawa competition.
Imagine standing in front of a panel of some of the best legal professionals in the field and defending a legal submission to the best of your abilities whether you believe the argument or not.
The panel includes judges, lawyers, police officers, scholars, and paralegals all with their own expertise in the law.
It could seem a little intimidating for most.
But for University of Guelph-Humber Justice Studies students Serena Allidina and Jenny Trang it looked easy as they won the annual Capital Cup mooting competition at Carleton University late last year. The win was a first at the competition for Guelph-Humber and saw not one but three teams place in the top eight out of 30 teams competing. It was also the first in-person mooting competition for the entire team, who had to compete virtually over the last two years.
“We were the underdogs. It made the win even sweeter,” Allidina said, noting that many of the schools they competed against have affiliated law schools, which gives them access to many legal resources.
Mooting is an exercise that takes place when a judgement goes to the appellant court. It is a mix of critical thinking and art in that competitors must prepare a carefully crafted submission on a case, including the precedent, the greater impacts on society and sometimes the international impacts of a decision. Competitors prepare submissions for the appellant side and the respondent side. They then defend those submissions before at team of judges.
Students spend about a month preparing submissions for competition which happens about two to three times a semester and twice over the summer months.
This wasn’t the first-time Allidina and Trang teamed up for a mooting competition.
“All the moots I’ve done have been with Serena and I think that’s why it went so well because we know how we work with eachother and how to plan our submissions,” Trang explained adding that when they won she was overwhelmed with joy.
“All that work finally paid off,” Trang said.
For Allidina an aspiring lawyer, mooting competitions aren’t simply a way of honing her debating skills - for her it is something she enjoys.
“Mooting is one of the loves of my life,” Allidina said, but also admits it can be nerve wracking to present arguments before a panel of as many as eight judges.
The Guelph-Humber pre law society organizes the university’s participation in the competition and oversees the application process and Allidina, who is the current President, notes that students across all programs have seen success at mooting.
“A lot of students who aren’t in the Justice Studies program do well as they don’t look at the law in the same way that we do. Students who are interested in debating or advocacy, no matter their experience level, tend to do well,” Serena explained.
The third-year student also credited the tutelage of Guelph-Humber alumnus Ovais Ahmad, now an assistant crown attorney for helping coach the team along with Justice Studies professor Glenn Barenthin who also coaches and guides the team.
Not everyone who placed was a veteran mooter. This was Ruth Oudit’s first mooting competition and she admits she was nervous but was able to work under pressure. Her team placed 7th which she said came as a surprise.
“I gave myself multiple pep talks throughout the day telling myself ‘Ruth you’ve got this.’ I remember going into the first round and listening to my partner and my heart rate was spiking but I kept myself calm,” Oudit said, saying she will definitely compete again.
In addition to Allidina and Trang, Guelph- Humber third-year Justice study student Rebecca Adam and fourth-year, Justices Studies student Connie Ciccodemarco placed third and as quarterfinalists, and third-year Justice Studies students Navid Aseer and Oudit placed 7th and as finalists.
Students interested in mooting or joining the pre-law society can go to @GHPLS on Instagram.