Next generation of legal professionals hone skills in front of high-profile judges for Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin Moot

Faculty of Law students Jordan Cowan and Adam Gareau win prestigious first-year moot

Doug Johnson - 19 April 2024

McLachlin MootUniversity of Alberta Faculty of Law students Adam Gareau and Jordan Cowan took home the win for this year’s Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin Moot after mooting against fellow finalists Helena Rizzuto and Bhavneet Parmar. 

Each year, around 100 teams of first-year law students complete this moot as a part of their Legal Research and Writing course. From this pool, the top 12 teams are invited to take part in the competitive moot. 

As explained by Chris Samuel, director of the Faculty of Law’s Legal Research and Writing program, this year’s mooters argued a mock case involving the sale of a fictional professional sports team. The arguments were complex,  involving issues such as the scope of duty and good faith in contract, and the use of pre-contractual evidence in the interpretation of the contract. 

More than 100 volunteers, including Faculty of Law professors, served as judges during the preliminary rounds. Faculty members Ubaka Ogbogu, Faith Majekolagbe, Chris Sprysak, Adebayo Majekolagbe, David Percy, Eric Adams, Anna Lund, Steven Penney, Andrew Leach and Vice-Dean James Muir acted as judges during the moot. 

mclachlin-moot.jpgIn the final round, the teams argued their cases in front of a panel composed of Justices Kevin Feehan and Thomas Wakeling of the Alberta Court of Appeal, and Dean Barbara Billingsley. 

“Judging the first year moot final has been a moment of great pride for me, as dean, because it gives me a chance to witness first hand the knowledge and advocacy skills of our first year students. This year was no exception. Counsel for the appellant and the respondent gave impressive and capable arguments, and it was tough to choose a winner,” Billingsley says. 

“In the end, the appellants got the win, but all of the participating students deserve to be congratulated on their performances. Sincere thanks to my colleagues on the bench for this competition — Alberta Court of Appeal Justices Feehan and Wakeling — for their time and expertise and to Chris Samuel for putting together such an intriguing problem and for organizing the competition.”

"Appearing before the Alberta Court of Appeal is a daunting task for any litigator, even lawyers who have decades of experience,” says Samuel. “This is especially true of appearing before Justices Feehan and Wakeling, who are renowned for their sharp minds and intellectual curiosity. It's truly remarkable that these four first-year students were able to competently argue their cases while being peppered with questions from such an engaged panel.”

“As always, I am grateful to the volunteer upper-year students, lawyers, and professors who contributed to make this year's competition a tremendous success. I have heard unanimously from our volunteers that this year's students are, overall, incredibly gifted and capable advocates. Congratulations to the entire first-year class on their successes."

Cowan and Gareau faced stiff competition from their fellow students throughout the moot. Gareau was pleasantly surprised that he and Cowan were selected from “such a talented field of students,” he says. 

In part, he credits the win to his team’s moot mentor Markis Banek and writing fellow Marlee Chrystian. They helped the team prepare for the challenging competition, polish their deliveries, and present their case with confidence, he says. 

mclachlin-moot-2.jpg“I was also so lucky to have such a strong moot partner in Jordan, whose style and confidence was so impressive,” he adds.

Cowan said the exercise was beneficial for the team to learn how to distill complicated legal arguments and to keep their composure in the face of a “piping hot bench.”

“Mooting is truly a team sport so I am incredibly grateful to my partner, Adam, our mentor, Markis Banek, and our writing fellow, Marlee Chrystian.”