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UofGH wins third, sixth and eighth at McGill Cup mooting competition

The six competitors from UofGH pose

Three pairs of University of Guelph-Humber students recently placed third, sixth, and eighth out of 39 teams at the McGill Cup mooting competition. Three UofGH students also won Distinguished Oralist awards, which recognize individual performances at the competition, placing third, fifth, and eighth.

The mooting competition, held January 19 and 20, 2019 at McGill University in Montreal, helps students develop their understanding of legal cases and practice their advocacy skills. Seventy-eight undergraduate students participated, including 14 students from UofGH’s Justice Studies, Media Studies, Family and Community Social Services (FCSS), and Psychology programs.

The moot centred upon a 2018 Supreme Court of Canada decision about international custody, which specifically considered whether German-born children who had lived in Canada for some time should be made to return to Germany where one of their parents lived. The case was brought before the Supreme Court of Canada to determine how international custody disputes should be adjudicated. 

One of the main issues before the court was how should Canada determine the child's "habitual residence"? The students had to be prepared to argue for either side in front of panels of judges over a number of rounds.

Emma Danaher

I was extremely proud of our performance in each and every round of the competition, and proud of how the whole University of Guelph-Humber team came together and worked on the case."



Teamwork, support and success

Emily Tessier, fourth-year Media Studies student and president of the Guelph-Humber Pre-Law Society (GHPLS), and Emma Danaher, second-year Justice Studies student, teamed up for the competition, and placed third. Both won Distinguished Oralist honours, with Danaher winning third place and Tessier fifth. The team of Hannah Drennan (fourth-year Justice Studies) and Michael McRae (second-year FCSS) placed sixth, with Emma Aggett and Maheen Nazim (third-year Justice Studies) finishing eighth. Drennan also received an eighth-place Distinguished Oralist award.

“Winning third was like a reward for all the hard work and all the skills I’ve been trying to build over my academic career,” says Danaher. “I was extremely proud of our performance in each and every round of the competition, and proud of how the whole University of Guelph-Humber team came together and worked on the case.”

“It was such a nice feeling of validation because we worked so hard and I really wanted to do well,” says Tessier. “And having three teams from the University of Guelph-Humber place in the competition was a great way to put UofGH on the map.”

To prepare for the competition, the 14 UofGH students had weekly meetings where they worked together to review submissions, practiced mooting in front of the GHPLS executive who acted as judges, and shared ideas and advice. Tessier says it was that teamwork that contributed to their success at the competition.

“In addition to our team dynamic, and everyone being so enthusiastic and willing to work together and help each other out, having 14 heads working together instead of two was what brought us to the next level,” she says.

“The students put in a lot of work, and it’s great to see how well they performed,” says Dr. Glenn Barenthin, Justice Studies instructor and Faculty Advisor for the Pre Law Society. “I was impressed with how well they learned and how well they stood their ground. This competition draws the top undergraduate students in Canada who want to be law students, and our students had a very strong showing against some tough competitors.”

Having three teams from the University of Guelph-Humber place in the competition was a great way to put UofGH on the map.”

Emily Tessier


Building real-world skills

Dr. Barenthin says the benefits of mooting competitions extend beyond the legal field.

“Preparing to be able to read a Supreme Court Case, to take out the important facts, and then get up in front of judges and argue your point are important skills students learn in mooting competitions. And with some judges you have to be quick on your feet,” he says. “All these skills are not just for law, but for any type of business. It’s oral advocacy; you’re trying to be persuasive about a point. You might be arguing for a side that you don’t agree with at all, and to be able to set that aside and strongly argue it is a skill needed for any job out there.”

“The mooting competition was a really good opportunity to come together with your peers, network with them, and learn from them,” says Danaher. “It was a great opportunity to get to know more people who are like-minded, to have a new group of friends and learn valuable things from them, and practice skills like strong communication and advocacy, which are going to be really important in our careers going forward.”

Tessier adds participating in mooting competitions has solidified her goal to attend law school. “When I first joined in my second year, I had an idea that I wanted to be a lawyer and that I wanted to go to law school, but after my first mooting competition I felt so much excitement, and just from having that experience it completely kicked me into high gear to immediately start working towards my goal,” says Tessier, who has been accepted to the University of Toronto’s law school. 

UofGH will be hosting its first ever mooting competition on April 27 and 28, 2019.

“If a student has an interest in law, I encourage them to come out and try out for our team or volunteer to help in April to see how a mooting competition goes,” says Dr. Barenthin. “Students might be nervous about competing, but so were our students who first tried this, and now they’re more confident.”

Tessier’s advice for students considering entering a mooting competition or joining the UofGH Pre-Law Society is simple: “Join our team. It’ll change your life.”

Danaher agrees. “Put yourself out there and try mooting. You never know what amazing friends you’ll meet, and what the outcome will be. I learned a lot.”