Emma Stirling wins 2024 Mandy MacLeod Prize for Excellence in Mooting

Prestigious moot program helps third-year law student find her voice

Caitlin Crawshaw - 22 April 2024

emma-stirling.jpegEmma Stirling, ‘24, JD, did her due diligence before beginning the Juris Doctor program at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law and embarking on a career in law.

Her curiosity was first piqued by the legal studies classes she took in highschool, so she opted to take as many undergraduate law courses as she could while earning her BA in Calgary.

“I enjoyed them and knew law was what I wanted to do,” she says. 

Stirling arrived in Edmonton in 2021 eager to get started. But she missed her family and friends, and applied for a transfer back to the University of Calgary so she could return home.

But mooting kept Stirling on campus. Like all first-year law students, she enrolled in LAW 405 (Legal research and writing), which involves taking part in a simulated court proceeding known as moot court.

“I started to really, really enjoy it,” she says. “I liked the process of it — finding the facts and researching, and then preparing for oral arguments. I liked being able to see something all the way through.”

Stirling was good at it, too. She and her moot partner did so well in class that they were invited to the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin First Year Moot Competition — and won. 

“The experience gave me confidence that I didn’t know I had,” she says. “It showed me what I was capable of.” 

Instead of returning to Calgary, Stirling stayed in Edmonton to continue law school and her new passion, mooting. For her second year, she successfully applied for and was accepted to the competitive moot program on the Gale Cup team. She also began mentoring first-year law students as  a moot mentor and eventually became a writing fellow in her third year.

Earlier this year, she and her team competed at the Wilson Moot in Toronto and won the national championship. She herself earned a Third Place Oralist award as part of the competition.

For all of her contributions to mooting, Stirling was awarded the Mandy MacLeod Prize for Excellence in Mooting. The award honours a JD student who has excelled at regional and national moot court competitions and provided mentorship to up-and-coming mooters. 

Chris Samuel, director of the Faculty of Law’s Legal Research and Writing program, says it’s been a privilege to watch Emma develop as a mooter throughout law school.

“Not only is she a highly accomplished and nationally recognized mooter, she has also selflessly given back to the program by mentoring other students on their journeys to become better advocates,” he says. “In a graduating class filled with exceptionally skilled mooters, Emma stood out."With her law school courses now finished, Stirling will receive her JD at summer convocation and begin clerking for the Court King’s Bench in Calgary before completing her articles with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

She plans to volunteer as a guest judge for future U of A moots and continue mentoring students. She feels extremely lucky to have worked with such incredible teammates, coaches, and mentors throughout her time in the Faculty. While mooting can be a daunting experience, Stirling believes it is an excellent opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zones.

“It builds a skillset that is useful whether or not you become a litigator — for instance, being able to research a problem and work well as part of a team,” she says. “When I started, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it and it ended up being the most important part of my law school career.”

The Mandy MacLeod Prize for Excellence in Mooting, which includes a plaque and a monetary award, was established in 2020 to honour the contributions of Mandy MacLeod, ’14 JD, as a participant and coach in the Faculty of Law’s moot program. The prize is awarded annually to a JD student who has “displayed exceptional advocacy skills at moot court competitions, both internally and externally,” and additionally has “provided mentorship and guidance to other Faculty of Law students in the context of moot court competitions.”