Briercrest alum Alison Cathcart heads to international law competition

Posted: December 1, 2009

Alison Cathcart and Katie Hall show off their trophies
from CNMAC in Toronto.
Briercrest alum Alison Cathcart (College ’04) has wowed Canadian legal academia again—after a second-place finish at the Canadian National Mediation Advocacy Competition in Toronto (November 18-21), she and her Robson Hall (University of Manitoba) classmate Katie Hall are off to Paris in February 2010 to compete in the International Chamber of Commerce’s world mediation advocacy competition.

Cathcart can add this trophy to that from her second-place finish at Canada’s Sopinka Cup in March.

Typically, only CNMAC’s first place winners are invited to the international competition—but Cathcart and Hall’s second-place finish was so “spectacular,” said spokespeople at Robson Hall, that they were offered a spot as well.

Dr. Jennifer L. Schultz, a law professor at Robson Hall, was thoroughly impressed: “Katie and Alison are simply naturals,” she told Robson spokespeople. “They are poised, brilliant mediation advocates—incredibly professional and excellent under pressure. Indeed, the judges at the Canadian competition said that Katie and Alison were amongst the best advocates they had ever seen!”

Cathcart and Hall were one of fourteen teams competing at CNMAC. They represented Robson’s first appearance at the competition.

Mediation advocacy is a fairly new method of advocacy, says Cathcart, which is part of what made the competition so exciting for her. Typically, lawyers negotiate with other lawyers to advocate on behalf of their clients. But mediation is different—rather than being adversarial, lawyers help their clients work with one another to come to an agreement that both parties are happy with. They’re challenged to “find different, creative solutions that a court could never come up with,” she says.

Cathcart and Hall were required to prepare for and participate in five different mediations over a three-day period at CNMAC. The first case they received two months prior to the competition, but the last four they needed to prepare while at the competition—a grueling but rewarding process for Cathcart. “I’ve never worked so hard or slept so little in my life!” she exclaims.

Cathcart is in her third year of study at Robson Hall, University of Manitoba’s faculty of law. She’s begun an articling position at Gange, Goodman, and French, a firm in Winnipeg, which she hopes will lead to a career in civil litigation. She plans to take the bar a year after graduation in 2011.