Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin Moot showcases emerging star advocates

Faculty of Law students Chiara Concini and Tina Diep win first-year moot

Benjamin Lof - 24 April 2023

Chiara Concini and Tina Diep of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law were the last two standing from a cohort of nearly 200 first-year students after winning this year’s Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin Moot competition.

Dean Barbara Billingsley judged the final round with Justice Thomas Wakeling of the Alberta Court of Appeal and Justice Rodney Jerke of the Alberta Court of King's Bench, who also contributed to the Faculty as this year’s justice in residence.

"Serving as a judge for this year's Moot — alongside Justices Wakeling and Jerke — was a highlight of the academic year,” said Billingsley. “The finalists delivered top-notch performances in a packed courtroom. As Dean, I was incredibly proud to witness first-hand the exceptional calibre of our first-year mooters, as well as the support offered by everyone in the room. It was a terrific experience, and I am very grateful to everyone who participated and to Chris Samuel for his excellent work in putting the 1L moot season together."

"Our mooting program has rightfully developed a formidable reputation for producing talented students.” said Chris Samuel, the director of the Legal Research and Writing Program. “That process starts with the first-year mooting exercise.”

The competition began with 12 pairs of exceptional mooters selected from the 182 first-year students who completed their mandatory moots as part of the Legal Research and Writing course. The preliminary round judges whittled the competition down to the final two teams.

While most of campus enjoyed the bright sunlight of early April, Concini and Diep found themselves in the Eldon D. Foote Moot Courtroom with fellow finalists Benjamin Pacholik and Kieran Boyko in front of the prestigious trophy and a full house of supporters.

This year’s 1L moot problem involved a manslaughter acquittal and a Mr. Big operation. The appeal revolved around what should be admissible against the accused. Arguing for the respondent, Concini and Diep ultimately carved out the win.

“The victory was only possible because of my spectacularly intelligent partner, Chiara,” Diep said. “I’m also grateful for my writing fellow Chris Klok, my moot mentor Michael Solomon, and Kieran and Benjamin, exceptionally worthy opponents! Honestly, I'm just happy I never have to talk about Mr. Big Operations again."

“Mooting in the finals after weeks of hard work was extremely rewarding,” said Concini. “I couldn’t be happier to have experienced it alongside my amazing partner, Tina, and our friends, Benjamin and Kieran. In addition to gaining knowledge about section 8 searches and appellate oral advocacy, I worked with incredibly talented mooters, and received excellent coaching from upper year students and our most awesome writing fellow, Chris Klok.”

Samuel was impressed by the level of advocacy on display.

“Across the board, our judges reported that these students have the capacity to be a particularly strong group of advocates,” he said. “I could tell that they put a ton of effort into understanding the legal framework and the nuances in the fact pattern. In particular, this year's final round was full of talent. All four of Tina, Benjamin, Chiara, and Kieran were composed and stalwart in the face of some very difficult questioning. I'm very proud of how they performed."

The first-year moot is a collaborative effort with support across the Faculty. It is made possible by all those who gave their time and expertise to judge the preliminary rounds of the moots: Assistant Professors Sina Akbari, Jessica Eisen, Faith Majekolagbe, Péter Szigeti; Associate Professor Chris Sprysak; Professors Ubaka Ogbogu, Steven Penney, David Percy, Andrew Leach; Assistant Lecturer Rebeca Macias Gimenez; Sandra Petersson, director of the Alberta Law Reform Institute; and sessional instructor Stella Varvis.

A major milestone in first-year law students’ legal education, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin Moot replaced The Dean’s Cup in 2020 when it was endowed with a financial award from Edmonton lawyer Elvis Iginla, ‘91 LLB. McLachlin, the first female Chief Justice of Canada, received her LLB from the Faculty of Law in 1968.