Stefen Savoy, Marlee Charlton, Madison Makepeace, and Lauran Haas will travel to Long Beach, California for the national championship of intercollegiate moot court.
In just its second year, St. Thomas University’s moot court team has earned a place in the National Moot Court Collegiate Championships in Long Beach, California.
 
STU placed two teams in the top eight of the regional competition at Fitchburg, MA in November. Now, students Stefen Savoy, Marlee Charlton, Madison Makepeace and Lauran Haas will be representing St. Thomas in California in January.
 
Charlton, from Lawrencetown, NS, is a Human Rights and History major. She was also recognized with a speaker award—placing 18th out of 108. Charlton’s plan has always been to pursue a career in law, and she saw taking the moot court course as a way to get her feet wet.
 
“It’s been one of the most rewarding classes I’ve had at St. Thomas. I was hoping it would help solidify the decision that I wanted to go to law school and it definitely has,” she said.
 
“We’re going to nationals!”
 

To earn a spot at nationals, teams must rank in the top eight of 52 teams.
 
Regionals consisted of two days of intense competition. Students prepare to argue both sides of a case and are expected to argue whichever is handed to them in a given round. Each team argued three rounds on the first day. Depending on how they did, they advanced to the second day. 
 
Charlton and Savoy—a Human Rights and Great Books major from Moncton, NB—won all three of their rounds. Makepeace—a Criminology major from Gagetown, NB—and Haas—from Kentville, NS, majoring in Human Rights and Criminology—won two of rounds, and tied the third to advance.
 
“I felt I was getting more confident as we went through the rounds,” said Charlton. “I started seeing nationals were attainable, so I said to Stefen, ‘We’re doing it. We’re going to nationals!’ And, we are.”
 
“When we won, we shrieked like little kids,” added Charlton. 
 
The Only Canadian School
 
As the only Canadian school attending the American competition, St. Thomas had an added challenge of becoming more-than-familiar with a foreign legal system. In addition to memorizing the case, reading cases that set precedent, and forming arguments, the team also had to learn American law—and the language to argue it.
 
Makepeace said some schools considered St. Thomas—being from Canada—as the underdog. However, she believes St. Thomas is starting to earn a reputation.
 
“It’s all about how dedicated you are and how much effort you’re willing to put in—and, our teams put in an enormous amount,” she said.
 
Both Charlton and Makepeace attribute their success to their professor, Dr. Amanda DiPaolo.
 
“We were really prepared,” said Charlton. “Dr. DiPaolo made sure we were ready. She has a no-note rule, so we don’t just memorize the case, but develop a deep understanding of our arguments, the cases that set precedent, and even the page numbers of our references for the judges. Dr. DiPaolo provides exceptional guidance.”

“She puts so much work and time into this program,” added Makepeace. “I strongly recommend this class to anyone who has an interest in law. Not only does it help you develop skills and look good on your resume, but it’s fun, too!”
 
Since Moot Court is a team sport, both students also credit their achievements to their teammates.
 
“Stefen is an amazing partner. He is so intelligent, and that really motivated me,” said Charlton. “We both needed to be awesome,” said Charlton.
 
“Not only investing in my interest, but in my future”
 
A large donation in moot court at St. Thomas by Stewart McKelvey law firm meant the students were able to travel to an invitational in Orlando, FL; a regional competition in Long Island, NY; regionals in Fitchburg, MA, and now California for nationals.
 
In Long Island, St. Thomas students Kathleen Nash and Robert Lynn won speaker awards, placing 9th and 19th respectively out of 72 speakers.
 
“To Stewart McKelvey, who sponsored us, we can’t extend our gratitude enough,” said Charlton.  “As students, we don’t have the financial means to do this kind of thing on our own. To know someone is investing, not only in my interest, but in my future is incredible.”

As for nationals, the teams will spend the holiday break preparing to meet tough competition in California. They look forward to building St. Thomas University’s growing reputation in moot court.
 
“I have high hopes for St. Thomas’s moot court program, and it would not surprise me if in a couple years St. Thomas is comparable to some of the best teams, and even becomes ‘the team to beat’.”