UNB Law wins the McKelvey Cup

Author: Ed Bowes

Posted on Feb 22, 2024

Category: Alumni , Students , Faculty

Congratulations to the team of Caitlin Grogan and Shane Scott, who took home the top prize at the 23rd annual McKelvey Cup moot, the Atlantic qualifier for Canada’s national trial advocacy competition, the Sopinka Cup.

This victory marks UNB Law's second win at the McKelvey Cup in the past three years. Additionally, the UNB Law Defence team of Susan Ivimey and Jacob Stoddard delivered strong performances, earning them third place, out of six teams.

Caitlin and Shane left their mark on this year’s competition. In addition to securing first place, Shane earned the individual award for Best Close, and Caitlin won both Best Open and the newly named James E. Lockyer Award for Best Overall Advocate.

“When Chief Justice Richard announced that Caitlin and I had won, it was a moment of shock, pride, and joy,” said Shane. “I came into the competition prepared, ready to compete and proud of the work I had done. That moment validated not only the immense work and discipline that went into our trial but also my instincts and sensibilities as an advocate.”

For those unfamiliar with the competition, the McKelvey Cup is a trial-level moot which sees mooters deliver direct and cross-examinations of witnesses (played by actors) as well as an opening or closing statement. This year’s fact pattern surrounded an assault at a night club, resulting in serious injury to the victim and whether the accused had acted in self-defense.

For Caitlin, the moot was an incredible experiential learning opportunity that reached far beyond the classroom.

“I cannot speak highly enough of my experience in this competition. While we learn a lot in law school, this moot provides a really unique, practical experience in trial advocacy. It’s one thing to learn about trial procedure, it’s a totally different thing to learn how to craft a case and see it through to the finish.”

Caitlin and Shane, who represented the Crown at the regional competition, will now switch gears and take on the role of the defense at the Sopinka, scheduled for March 15 and 16, 2024. After spending months making the prosecution’s case, switching sides will certainly be a challenge, one that Caitlin is greatly looking forward to.

“It is obviously daunting to know that we only have a month to switch to the other side and make a strong case. But I think it is an exciting challenge. We have spent so much time with this problem that we have a strong understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. We also learned a lot throughout this process on developing our strategy, lines of questioning and statements that will serve us well as we start over. We have also been lucky to receive a lot of constructive feedback to help us improve as we move forward.”

Recognizing the contributions of Jim Lockyer

This year marked a significant milestone as UNB Law hosted the McKelvey Cup for the first time, a competition traditionally held at Université de Moncton. Going forward, the moot will rotate annually between the three Atlantic law schools.

The McKelvey Cup owes much of its success to the efforts of trial advocacy expert and Université de Moncton Professor Jim Lockyer (LLB'75). For over twenty years, Jim has played a critical role in the planning and execution of the moot—not to mention writing the problem. This year, Jim will act as a feedback provider at the national competition.

In honour of Jim’s dedication to the moot, the individual award for Best Overall Advocate was renamed to the James E. Lockyer Award for Best Overall Advocate. Prof. Jane Thomson, organizer and faculty advisor to the UNB team, was honoured to announce this historic change at the event’s closing banquet.

“Jim has been a source of inspiration, support, and excellence for this competition for so many years. This is our way of honouring his work and dedication and ensuring that all future mooters recognize his contributions.”

Despite stepping away from official organizing duties, Lockyer will remain an important resource to UNB Law students, continuing to lend his trial advocacy expertise in the classroom and beyond.

Final thank yous

Organizing a trial moot of this size and caliber is no small feat; it took an army of supporters to execute.

First and foremost, UNB Law would like to thank Stewart McKelvey for its ongoing financial commitment to the moot. This year, the McKelvey Cup was also supported by a grant from the UNB Law Heritage Fund, to which generations of the Law School’s graduates have contributed.

Thank you to our presiding Judge, The Hon. Justice Maya Hamou of the New Brunswick Court of King’s Bench. Thank you to our jurors, Ken McCullogh, K.C., Mark Scott, K.C. (LLB’94), Ben Retovitch, Carley Parish, K.C., Michelle Awad, K.C., Justin Robichaud, K.C., Joël Michaud, K.C. and Jack Graham, K.C.

Finally, thank you to our assessors, The Hon. J.C. Marc Richard, Chief Justice of New Brunswick, The Hon. Judge Cameron Gunn (LLB’93), of the Provincial Court, and Patrick McGuinty Crown Prosecutor, who met with teams to offer feedback and insight on their performances.

Please join us in congratulating all participants on their impressive performances and join us in wishing Caitlan and Shane the best of luck as they represent UNB Law at the Sopinka Cup, March 15 and 16 in Ottawa.