Law students take their trial out of court and onto social media

by | Feb 28, 2014 | News

By Alexandra Gundy

Law students across Canada have taken a mock trial out of the courtroom and onto Twitter, and these students don’t need to speak a word to win their case.

Using the hashtag #twtmoot, teams from five Canadian universities are competing in mock court, arguing an appeal based on a real case.

Canadian law has had to adjust to the growing role that social media, and particularly twitter, continues to have. The relationship between the two has been contentious.

“Judges initially didn’t know how to deal with it,” said Omar Ha-Redeye, a Toronto lawyer who acted as judge in Friday’s twitter trial. “They were kicking lawyers out of court simply for using their laptops.”

Ha-Redeye, who teaches at Centennial College and Ryerson University, routinely judges real life moots across Canada and the U.S. He was named one of 2011’s top 24 social media influencers by The Lawyers Weekly.

“Lawyers themselves are increasingly being involved in social media and twitter specifically because there’s a need for us to be involved,” said Ha-Redeye. “We have a professional responsibility to not just sit there and hoard the information and legal knowledge that we have.”

Ha-Redeye said that law professionals should be engaging in respectful discourse and correct misunderstandings about the legal system.

“If the public is being increasingly found on Twitter, then I’m going to argue that that’s simply where the legal professionals should be as well.”

LISTEN: Toronto Lawyer Omar Ha-Redeye speaks about the relationship between social media and law.

Justice Robert Johnston, who sits on the Supreme Court of British Columbia, also acted as judge for the Twitter moot trial. In a Twitter conversation with Humber News, Johnston spoke about his reasons to get involved in the online trial.