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Fanshawe paralegal students place first in mock trial cup competition


Fanshawe's paralegal students worked hard to win Durham College's Paralegal Mock Trial Cup competition.

Claudia Bergman | Interrobang | News | June 5th, 2017

Armed with the knowledge of Fanshawe’s accredited paralegal program in the School of Public Safety and countless hours of weekend practice, students from the College’s Paralegal Student Association (PSA) came, saw and conquered Durham College’s Paralegal Mock Trial Cup competition in Oshawa.

According to a Fanshawe news release, Sarah Goodman, Jori Lacey, Graeme O’Neill, Kayla Porter, Evelyn Priestley and Mason Stewart dedicated months of their time with the help of coaches Anna Szczurko from Siskinds law firm, Nicholas Dasios, paralegal program co-ordinator and law professor and Ged Tillmann from the Harrison Pensa law firm, to master the art of law advocacy, making the win that much more well deserving and sweet.

In an environment where preparation can only delegate so much and the element of surprise can unravel the most solid of strategies, it was through teamwork and quick wit that resulted in the triumph of Fanshawe’s paralegal team.

“It was realizing what everyone was good at,” O’Neill said.

“We didn’t let ego get in the way either,” Stewart followed.

The small claims court case was based on a situation some may be familiar with wherein a couple receives a large sum of money from their in-laws to invest in their future lives, only to end their relationship and inevitably creating a dispute over the rightful allocations of the funds.

“Trial advocacy is like going to war - you have some intelligence about what you expect to see in your battle and you make plans and exhaustively prepare, but you have to perform under incredible pressure and be able to adapt in real-time by thinking on your feet and responding to the many surprises and countermeasures the enemy launches against you,” Dasios said when discussing the results of the province wide competition.

With eight other competing schools, Fanshawe’s savvy team of six went head to head with Durham College, Algonquin College (2016’s champions) and George Brown College, acting as the plaintiff or the defendant based on their respective rounds.

“It was wild walking in seeing all the other schools. We were very insulated from everybody else. We were very much wrapped up in our own game plan, so to watch everybody come in and realize that there’s eight other schools that have been practicing, to see their game plan and be able to adapt and adjust to it. It was a surreal experience,” Stewart said.

Adapt and adjust they did as one competing school threw a curveball and presented an argument that was not taken into prior consideration.

“What they did was so smart, they surprised us. There was a gift letter as part of the trial and everyone else on the plaintiff’s side denied the letter existed. It put us in a position that we had to really rally and Kayla saved our butt on that, she rallied” O’Neill remarked.

It was Porter’s sharp thinking and eye for detail that led the team through the unexpected element.

“I had five minutes to change my entire cross examination,” she said. “A lot of note passing and a lot of staring at each other. You just kind of go with it, although it was a good tactic their story wasn’t completely solid so I was able to actually decompose their story because they just didn’t think of the tiny details.”

Fanshawe’s paralegal team fought the hard battle and won, bringing pride and glory to the Forest City and cementing themselves as champions of Durham College’s Paralegal Mock Trial Cup competition 2017.

“We congratulate the paralegal team for accomplishing such a great task in winning this competition” Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) president Morganna Sampson said.

In closing, the team acknowledged and thanked all those who dedicated their time to the mock trial cup competition which included, but were not limited to the Justices of Peace as well as the judges.
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