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Université de Montréal wins Spirit Cup

|Written By Craig Russell Lawrence

Law students from across Canada converged on the University of Western Ontario during the first week of January, kicking off the new year with the 23rd installment of Law Games.

Law students from the Université de Montréal celebrating their victory in the Spirit Cup.

Taking home this year’s title was the Université de Montréal, winning the Spirit Cup for the second time in four years. Montréal’s victory was due in large part to its overall win in athletics, with the school securing first place in kinball, the outdoor games, and the fun games, as well as second place finishes in volleyball and dodgeball.

 In addition, Les Bleus finished second in the 2007 Law Games Moot. Perhaps more importantly, however, Montréal attended every event with infectious energy and was a vocal supporter not just of its own delegates, but of seemingly every other school as well. It was that egalitarian enthusiasm that made Les Bleus such a positive force in this year’s games and a worthy winner of the Spirit Cup.

Originally created as a one-day hockey tournament in 1985, Law Games has evolved into a four-day annual event representing the largest gathering of law students in the nation. Over 800 students from 18 universities came to London, Ont., to compete in 13 athletic events, two academic competitions, and various spirit activities for a shot at winning the coveted Spirit Cup.

Another notable victor at the games was the University of British Columbia, as UBC students Jeff Mackenzie and Dan Reid finished first overall in the moot competition. This year’s moot was based on a criminal case addressing indecent exposure, and gave participants the opportunity to compare a broad range of advocacy styles and approaches.

Although UBC took home the overall moot win, it was Queen’s University’s Ike Awgu who received recognition as the games’ top oralist, with UBC’s Mackenzie and the Université de Montréal’s Marie-Eve Gingras rounding out the top three spots.

In addition to the traditional array of sports and academics, this year’s installment of Law Games included a few unique activities, including a live performance by Canadian rockers The Trews at London’s Club Phoenix. Fresh off their 2006 success with the album Den of Thieves, the Nova Scotia natives played to a packed house of law students in a surprise show.

The games’ final night saw yet more surprise appearances at the formal dinner, with a special video showcasing CBC icon Peter Mansbridge, funnyman Rick Mercer, Maple Leafs legend Doug Gilmour, and Sportsnet’s Hockey Central crew all wishing delegates the best of luck in both the games and beyond.

The event’s final night also featured a keynote address by Justice David Little, formerly a lawyer with McCarthy Tétrault LLP and now a judge of the Superior Court of Justice. In a colorful and timely discussion, Little asked delegates to consider what it means to work in a profession, pointing out that “The difference between a business and a profession is that a profession involves the spirit of service.”

Little urged students to consider that their chosen profession carried with it the duty and responsibility to serve those who could not necessarily afford them, and to view pro bono work as an integral and essential part of their professional lives.

In retrospect, Law Games 2007 likely set a new standard for the event by continuing to expand both the scope and message of the games. It is now much more than a friendly hockey tournament, though the University of Windsor may argue that its fifth-straight hockey title remains the real triumph of these games.

In truth, Law Games now represents an opportunity for students to build relationships in a profession that is at once competitive and collegial. The games allow law students to embrace that dynamic by being friends and rivals at the same time.

Led by co-chairs Andrew Nisker and Patrick Rogers, the UWO committee responsible for organizing this year’s event handled financing, marketing, athletics, and a host of other interests.

Assisting this committee were a number of firms and organizations providing vital sponsorship funding, including McCarthy Tétrault, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Fasken Martineau LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Lang Michener LLP, Goodman & Carr LLP, McMillan Binch Mendelsohn LLP, CLB Media Inc., and the Canadian Bar Insurance Association.

The result was one of the largest and most successful Law Games to date, with the event contributing an estimated $100,000 to London’s business community and allowing students to forge new relationships with peers from across the country.

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