Perseverance pays off for the 2009 Osgoode Cup winners

Fourth time’s the charm! At least it was for University of Toronto students Valerie Stiso and Marcel Malfitano who won Osgoode Hall Law School’s annual Osgoode Cup National Undergraduate Mooting Competition on Sunday on their fourth attempt. 

“It’s the culmination of all of our hard work,” said an elated Malfitano, a fourth-year political science major at University of Toronto’s Trinity College. “It’s very rewarding.”

Right: Osgoode Cup 2009 winners Marcel Malfitano and Valerie Stiso of the University of Toronto with David Delagran of Beard Winter LLP, the cup sponsor

“The Osgoode Cup is inspirational to undergrads and has personally helped me build self-confidence,” said Stiso, a fourth-year ethics, society and law major whose parents, Nancy and Pasquale Stiso, were on hand to celebrate their daughter’s victory.

Stiso and Malfitano, who have represented the University of Toronto Pre-Law Society in the Osgoode Cup every year since 2006, and who took third place last year, edged out Schulich School of Business students Christopher Im and Jason Yarmolinsky in the final round of the two-day competition to win the 2009 Osgoode Cup. 

Left: The second-place team from Schulich School of Business: Jason Yarmolinsky, left, and Christopher Im, right, with Justice Karen Weiler of the Ontario Court of Appeal

Two teams from U of T – the sister and brother team of Garenee and Peter Mahseredjian and the team of Michael Tersigni and Sarah Hussaini – were awarded third prize and 10 distinguished oralists were also honoured. 

Designed to develop students’ advocacy skills, this year’s Osgoode Cup case involved a claim for nervous shock arising from a manufacturing error that led the plaintiff to consume potentially infectious insect remnants in a sports drink and then develop a significant psychological reaction that had a severe impact on the plaintiff’s daily activities.

A total of 13 teams from McMaster University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario and York University participated in the fifth annual Osgoode Cup, which was held in conjunction with York University’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Students from Humber College’s Paralegal Studies degree program participated as bailiffs/timekeepers at the competition.

Right: Jason Yarmolinsky appears for the "respondents" before the judges in Osgoode’s Moot Court Room

Despite the fact that Osgoode offers travel bursaries for out-of-town teams, it was the first time since the inception of the Osgoode Cup in 2005 that there were no teams from outside Ontario participating in the competition. Last year’s trophy was won by a team from the University of Calgary and one of those students, Brent Kettles, who is now a first-year Osgoode student, served as a student judge for this year’s competition. 

“All 13 teams performed remarkably well, and in addition to enjoying themselves, they had a wonderful learning experience,” said Gina Alexandris, assistant dean, student services at Osgoode. Alexandris helps to organize the competition every year, which draws heavily on the support of alumni who kindly serve as volunteer judges.

Left: The two teams in the final round, left to right, Valerie Stiso and Marcel Malfitano of the University of Toronto, and Jason Yarmolinsky and Christopher Im of the Schulich School of Business

This year’s panel of judges for Sunday morning’s final round consisted of York University Chancellor and former Ontario Chief Justice R. Roy McMurtry (LLB ’58, LLD [Hon.] ’91); Justice Karen Weiler (LLB ’67, LLM ’74) of the Ontario Court of Appeal; Justice Jayne Hughes (BA ’80, LLB ’83) of the Superior Court of Justice; David Delagran of Beard Winter LLP, which sponsors the Osgoode Cup; and Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Patrick Monahan.

At a luncheon reception and awards presentation following the final round, McMurtry praised the Osgoode Cup participants, saying he was “hugely impressed” with the maturity of the mooters, their ability to think on their feet, and the fact that they have not been through law school and yet did so well. “The future of the law profession is in good hands,” he added.

Meanwhile, both Stiso and Malfitano have applied to law school and Malfitano, in particular, is keeping his fingers crossed that Osgoode will make him an offer of admission. “I love Osgoode,” he said. “I love the environment.”