Law students win National Labour Arbitration Competition

- January 30, 2019

Law students Megan Thompson and Calvin DeWolfe. (Provided photo)
Law students Megan Thompson and Calvin DeWolfe. (Provided photo)

Schulich School of Law second-year students Calvin DeWolfe and Megan Thompson won the 21st Mathews Dinsdale National Labour Arbitration Competition, held on Jan. 27 at the Ontario Labour Board in Toronto.

With their victory, Dalhousie teams have now won the cup five times — more than any other university — in this eight-school invitational competition.

Calvin and Megan faced the University of British Columbia and Queen’s University teams in the preliminary rounds and prevailed over UBC in a rematch for the final. The moot problem involved a sexual harassment workplace dismissal. They first argued for the employer, then for the union.

Gaining confidence

This was Calvin’s first external moot competition (he had mooted in class during first year). “We thought we were prepared, but you never really know until you see the other teams,” he says. “We got more and more confident and at ease as we went on. We had a lot of confidence going into the final because we had already beaten UBC in the preliminary round.”

The experience of mooting in front of esteemed legal professionals was invaluable. “Oral advocacy is so important for the practice of law, but you don’t get to practice it much in law school,” says Calvin. “We got to practice in front of a Supreme Court judge — you can’t even put a price on that.”

The competition gave Megan a better view of what a labour arbitration would look like in practice. She and DeWolfe put in a lot of work over the past few months, and they felt that their arguments were finally coming together in the week leading up to the moot. “Cal and I worked really well together, so it’s nice to enjoy this win as a team,” she says. “We also couldn’t have done it without our coaches. Their encouragement, advice, and often challenging practice sessions were fundamental to our success.”

A team effort

The Dalhousie coaches were Schulich Law Professor Emeritus Bruce Archibald and arbitrator Eric Slone. Iit was Slone’s 15th time coaching and the third time he has coached a winning team from Dal's law school.) They gratefully acknowledge the assistance in practice rounds from local law firms McInnes Cooper (John MacPherson and Katie Rowbotham) and Pink Larkin (David Roberts, David Wallbridge, and Jillian Houlihan).

Judging the competition were Justice Malcolm Rowe; Bernard Fishbein, chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board; and Ginette Brazeau, chair of the Canada Industrial Relations Board. When it was over, Rowe spent 15 minutes giving feedback to the Dal team.

“It’s exciting to bring the trophy back to Dal,” says Megan. “We really appreciate the messages of support that we’ve received from Weldon faculty and classmates since returning from the competition.”


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