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Experiential Learning on Display at Moot Court 2024

Legal prowess, lively debate, and a display of experiential learning at its best recently filled the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Campeau Lecture Hall for the 21st Annual Moot Court Competition.

SMCS 2024 Moot Court top advocate, Truman Topolski with judges.

This prominent event offers Grade 12 law students a unique opportunity to engage in simulated appellate court proceedings, honing their advocacy skills and deepening their understanding of the legal system. The event welcomed experienced lawyers who served as event judges, including Rob Kreklewetz, Jerry Topolski, Rebecca Durcan, and Seanna Callaghan, who oversaw the proceedings.

As part of the Grade 12 law course, the Canadian Constitution unit focuses on cases that involve challenges to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a mandatory component of the course, all Grade 12 law students must act as legal advocates for their position of either an appellant or a respondent for a particular moot case studied in class. Students learn the legal skills of how to prepare a legal factum, cite and reference precedent cases, and prepare for litigation. Students are graded, and Moot Court finalists are selected based on how well they present their arguments and support their position in their factums.

SMCS Moot Court 2024 - Conor Tanzola delivers his factum

“This event was such a tremendous success from beginning to end, as it really captivates the quintessential 21st century learner,” says Joe Tropea, teacher and event coordinator. “I was thoroughly pleased with their in-class submissions and presentations. They made it extremely difficult to select the finalists. We are truly blessed and grateful to have a dedicated community of parents and alumni who are experts in their respective areas of law and willing to help our young men grow. The feedback and assistance they provided to our young aspiring law students will prove invaluable in their academic journey in the field of law.”

Participating in the Moot Court Competition is a transformative experience for students considering a future career in law. It provides a glimpse into the demands and rewards of legal advocacy and helps students make informed decisions about their academic and professional paths.

“I’m grateful for this unique opportunity. Being able to close out my St. Michael’s journey with a competition between close friends and legal professionals was an experience I will not soon forget,” says Harrison Smith, Grade 12.

SMCS Moot Court 2024 - Truman Topolski delivers his factum

The annual competition serves as a platform for students to showcase their talents and passion for the law, fostering a sense of confidence and readiness for their future endeavours.

Appellants and respondents deliberated their findings before judges, parents, and fellow students. Truman Topolski and Conor Tanzola took home the Justice J.B. Shaughnessy Award for top oralist and winning team. The overall St. Thomas More Legal Advocacy Award and Shaughnessy Family Award presented to the top oral advocate went to Truman Topolski.

“The moot court provided an excellent platform for students to hone their advocacy skills in a realistic and competitive environment,” says Truman Topolski, Grade 12. “It was inspiring to see the level of engagement and the quality of arguments presented; truly a testament to the hard work of both students and faculty. It was a perfect opportunity to practice in a court with lawyers with a high level of competency and unique skills.”

SMCS Moot Court 2024 winning team and moderators

“It was an honour to compete in the Justice J.B. Shaughnessy Moot Court,” adds teammate Conor Tanzola. “It was a unique experience which has prepared me for a future in the legal world and given me a taste of what is to come after St. Mike’s. Thank you to all the judges and my competitors for a spirited event.”

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