Update: #1 - STU Moot Court won FIRST PLACE at the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Geneva. More to come. 

Navy Vezina and Abbie LeBlanc will represent St. Thomas University at the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Geneva, Switzerland from July 18 to 21.
 
The international competition is open to undergraduate and masters of law students. The top five teams from each of the five regions (based on United Nations regions) qualified to attend.
 
Canada—and St. Thomas—is part of the Western European and Others region. Along with St. Thomas, the top five for this region include Yale Law School, the University of Oxford, Universitat del Piemonte Orientale in Italy, and the University of Lucerne in Switzerland.
 
The STU team—which also includes Emily Williams, Emma Walsh, Camille Xavier, and Brianna Matchett—submitted a brief on June 12, and were to hear back on June 19. When they hadn’t heard by sun-down, they considered it a great experience either way and began to accept defeat. Close to midnight on June 19, they received word they’d been chosen to attend.
 
The competition will include pre and final rounds and will conclude with a single winning team.
 
Vezina, from Montréal, QC is pursuing honours in Philosophy and a major in Political Science. She said it is meaningful to be recognized in the ranks of the other qualifying schools.   
 
“Yale Law School is a very competitive school, Oxford knows what they’re doing, and the school from Switzerland requires their participants to complete a six-month moot court academy program. Some of these people already have degrees, have done these competitions before, and have worked in law firms.”
 
LeBlanc, from Fredericton, NB, is pursuing a triple honours in Political Science, Great Books, and Human Rights. She’s excited to showcase what STU has to offer, despite intimidating competition.
 
“I think we’ll do well, and I’m looking forward to surprising people with that,” she said.
 
Vezina agreed, saying the moot court experience she’s had with St. Thomas as part of the American Moot Court Association has given her the skills to be a contender at the event.
 
“American moot court is so highly competitive, and Abbie and I are both competitive people,” she said. “Moot Court professor, Dr. Amanda DiPaolo, works us so hard to prepare for our competitions, so we’re looking forward to testing those skills beyond the American system.”
 
Moot Court is a credited class at St. Thomas and involves competitions throughout the United States; however, the pursuit of earning a spot at the competition in Switzerland was done outside of class. Students formed an independent club, met Friday afternoons, and submitted an application.
 
Of the six students, Vezina, as president of the club, and LeBlanc were elected to represent STU in Switzerland.
 
“Abbie and I worked on the non-discrimination claim as partners. Some of it came down to who could get work off and wanted to travel, but I also wanted Abbie there with me, because we work so well together,” she said.
 
St Thomas University Perfect Fit for Moot Court
 
LeBlanc credits the style of education at St. Thomas as good preparation for moot court.
 
“Every student at STU has the opportunity to speak out, voice opinions, and learn the skills needed to make clear and organized arguments. STU provides a lot of opportunities to practice those skills in every class, and that transfers well into these kinds of competitions.”
 
For Vezina, the liberal arts approach to education makes all the difference.
 
“There’s opportunity to develop a combination-style skillset at STU. From Philosophy, I’ve learned how to make logical arguments. I’ve learned what makes arguments strong and what makes them weak through historical contexts, such as learning what Descartes said or what Nietzsche said. In Political Science and Human Rights, I’ve learned how to take the structure of Philosophy and apply it to more current options like law and human rights.”
 
“That’s what you get from approaching your degree from a liberal arts perspective,” she added. “That approach focuses on the fact that Arts disciplines are connected; they are strongest when studied together. St. Thomas is unique in offering that. The fact that I’m not part of the Human Rights Department, but I can still have all these opportunities is neat.”