The 14th edition of the annual Nelligan Law First Year Moot Court Competition was held on November 13-15, 2021. Over 140 first-year students in the English Program competed in the preliminary rounds, held on the morning of November 13. The 1L students were divided into hearings with two appellant counsel facing off against two respondent counsel. In a competition first, all hearings were held online, allowing 57 judges from across Canada and abroad (including one in London, England!) to judge.
The competition, which has been sponsored since 2007 by Nelligan Law, provides first-year students the opportunity to start essential skill building, and get a taste for advocacy, just 10 weeks into law school. Participants engage with a significant number of legal professionals and gain invaluable experiential practise in effective advocacy. Professor Stephen Blair, the competition organizer, says the competition is part of the success of the Common Law program, and that “students want to get into a court-like setting as soon as possible, so we give them that chance.” We are excited to share that Nelligan Law has just renewed its commitment to this moot with a $100,000 donation over the next 5 years!
The tort case under appeal in this year’s moot was Marchi v. City of Nelson. Ms. Marchi suffered an injury she attributed to inadequate clearing of snowbanks by the city. Her action for damages was dismissed at trial, however Ms. Marchi was successful when she appealed the decision.
Following the morning hearings, the judges met to select the 16 semi-finalists, who went on to compete Saturday afternoon, in the four semi-final hearings. Following these playoff hearings, the 12 judges deliberated and selected four students: Elaine Tam and Gary Balaganthan (appellants) and Charlotte Wong Labow and Artem Shushko (respondents) to move on to the championship hearing.
The championship hearing took place on the evening of Monday November 15, 2021, also virtually. The hearing was presided over by retired Justice Giovanna Toscano Roccamo, LLB ’83, formerly of the Superior Court Justice in the East Region of Ontario, Eric Williams of Williams Litigation Lawyers LLP, and Pat Santini, LLB ’78, of Kelly Santini Lawyers LLP.
Mayar Shahin and Tiffany Woo won the CCLA (County of Carleton Law Association) Best Factum Prize. They will have the opportunity to attend the CCLA East Region Solicitors Conference next spring and present a paper, to the lawyers attending the conference, on the Marchi case.
Artem Sushko and Charlotte Wong Labow won the John P. Nelligan Cup, for the top two-person team in the competition. The late John Nelligan was a founding partner of Nelligan Law and a leading litigation lawyer and practitioner. He was a strong supporter of the first-year moot competition, and attended the event enthusiastically, well into his 90s.
Charlotte Wong Labow received the 2021 Allan O’Brien Award for Top Advocate Award. In honour of Allan O’Brien, LLB ’73, who passed away earlier this year, this prize was renamed the Allan O’Brien Award for Top Advocate. Al O’Brien was a proud alumnus and an enthusiastic proponent and participant in the Nelligan Moot at uOttawa.
Janice Payne, LLB ’74, and Erin Lepine, LLB ’07, presented the awards. Both are partners in the firm and served as judges at the Saturday hearings. Ms. Payne commended the participants at the award ceremony, remarking at how organized and effective their arguments were and how well-matched the two teams were.
A big congratulations to all the winners!! And enormous gratitude to the long-standing sponsors of the competition.