Thompson Rivers University

TRU Law goes global in challenging moot

April 20, 2021

TRU Law’s Jessup International Moot team has just finished a month-and-a-half of competitive mooting, in a moot (simulated court proceeding) that’s known to be very challenging.

The team participated in both the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition’s National and International Rounds this year. This year’s case involved a pandemic, a state closing its borders and a whistle-blowing scientist whose airplane was shot down as she tried to flee the country.

The team was represented by Andrew Hefford (3L), Shanna Kean (3L) Sanda Sijercic (3L), and siblings Allison Macdonald (2L) and Sam Macdonald (2L). The team was coached by TRU Law faculty member Ryan Gauthier, Vancouver Department of Justice Laryssa Borowyk, and retired lawyer Greg Pun, QC.

The team competed in the National Rounds during the week of February 22, arguing across six rounds—three for applicant and three for respondent. The Jessup team won awards at the national level. In written advocacy, the team received the third-place Respondent Memorial (written arguments), drafted by Sijercic and Sam Macdonald, with support from researcher Kean, and fourth-overall Memorial score. Sam Macdonald was also awarded third-place oralist.

The Jessup Team Goes Global

Shortly after the National Rounds, the team moved on to International Rounds. Normally, the International Rounds take place in Washington, DC, and only two Canadian teams go to the rounds. However, due to the pandemic, roughly 700 law schools from around the world participated in the International Rounds. TRU Law competed in exhibition and preliminary matches against students from Afghanistan, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the USA.

Following the Preliminary Rounds, TRU Law was selected as one of the 168 teams (and one of nine Canadian teams) to advance to the White & Case Advanced Rounds of the Jessup competition. There, the team competed against teams from Colombia, Germany, Latvia, and the USA.

TRU Law’s Jessup journey came to an end when it did not advance to the Elimination Rounds of 48 teams. The team felt both disappointed at not advancing, but relieved to be finished over a full month of mooting.

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Allison Macdonald and Andrew Hefford of the TRU 2020-21 Jessup team competing in international rounds in March 2021.

Reflecting on The Year

The Jessup is known as a challenging moot that pushes students to do their best work. This year was even more so, as the team participated in two exhibition rounds, and 14 competitive rounds, over a month-and-a-half against teams from all over the world.

That said, the hard work brought great benefits. “The moot was the most challenging project I’ve taken on, but also the most rewarding,” Kean says.

Sijercic adds: “the Jessup was the most challenging, yet fun experience I’ve had in law school.”

Hefford found it to be “a huge help in establishing good public speaking skills and habits.”

Every member of the team felt that the Jessup was a confidence builder.

Sijercic sums up her year as a mooter with the feeling that the moot gave her skills that she knows she’ll use later in her career. “Most of all, the Jessup gave me a new sense of confidence in my abilities as a law student and future lawyer,” Sijercic says.

The coaches are particularly proud of the hard work, dedication, flexibility and good humour shown by the team throughout the competition. They certainly look forward to each team member’s continued success as they begin their legal careers.

The TRU Law 2020-21 Jessup team in their matching Jessup Canada t-shirts: Andrew Hefford (3L), Sam Macdonald (2L), Sanda Sijercic (3L), Allison Macdonald (2L), Shanna Kean (3L), and Coach Ryan Gauthier.

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