Humber Paralegal team competing at Osgoode Mooting Cup

by | Mar 8, 2013 | News

By Shannon O’Reilly

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Four teams composed of Humber students from the paralegal studies program are competing at the Osgoode Mooting Cup on March 9 and 10.

Shirley Wales, a professor in the paralegal studies department and judge this weekend, said the competition is mainly to allow participants to work on their oral advocacy skills.

“The arguments are based on a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada relating to criminal law,” said Wales. “Teams of students compete against each other, making arguments and responding to questions from the panel of judges, just as real lawyers would be required to do when arguing an appeal in court.”

According to the legal dictionary by the definition of an appeal is: Timely resort by an unsuccessful party in a lawsuit or administrative proceeding to an appropriate superior court empowered to review a final decision on the ground that it was based upon an erroneous application of law.

Waleed Malik, the tournament director, added that mooting is a simulation of an appeal.

“Participants will be ‘appealing’ a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada with the ‘appellants’ asking to overturn the outcome below and the ‘respondents’ asking for the outcome to be maintained” said Malik.

Second-year paralegal student Fallon Burns, who made it to the quarterfinals last year, said participants only have 10 minutes to make their speech and show the judges they understand the law.

“They’re looking that you understand the positive and negative outcomes of your argument,” said Burns. “There’s always going to be someone who is affected so it’s down to understanding who is going to benefit and who is not.”

“On a more mundane level, judges will be looking for signs of good organization, confidence in one’s position and the ability to respond to questions and be flexible on one’s feet,” added Malik.

Malik said the Osgoode Cup is primarily an exercise for students to develop their oral advocacy skills and also an opportunity for people not in law school to get a taste of the job.

“Participants develop skills necessary for the exercise,” said Malik. “This includes things such as effective preparation once provided with a problem, effectively being able to plan ones presentation, responding to questions posed by the judges on the spot, etc.”

This year, Humber is sending four faculty members, who also happen to be Deputy Judges of the Ontario Small Claims Court, to judge the competition. Peter Libman, Shirley Wales, Albert Ferranti and program coordinator Bernard Aron will be going.

“The fact that members of the faculty are willing to volunteer their time is especially generous and valued by the organizers,” said Malik. “It brings a different perspective for the participants. The perspective they bring as actual judges is particularly valuable to anyone who is looking to pursue a future legal career.”

Burns, who has dedicated many hours outside of the classroom in preparation for the competition, said the experience for her has been invaluable.

“Last summer I worked at a law firm but a lot of landing that job was based on my performance at Osgoode,” said Burns. “It showed that I was willing to work really hard at my exercises and I demonstrated understanding.”

“For my job I did a lot of research and enforced small claims, forced judgments,” said Burns of working for Wigle Vence Paralegal Services.

On top of that, Burns received a $1,000 scholarship from Tim Horton’s after her quarterfinals finish last year.

Burns also has some ideas about how Humber can better prepare students for future success at the Osgoode cup.

“There needs to be more education, we need more cases and more opportunities to expand our skills,” said Burns. “We need a mooting club on campus and it needs to be open to second, third, and fourth-year students, so first-years can develop into it. Then we can pick who is going to move forward to the competition.

“I think a mooting club on campus if it was sponsored by HSF it would be awesome.”

Moot moot moot. #paralegalthings

— Fallon Burns (@FallonBurns) February 21, 2013