When Stephen Stohn was inducted as Trent University’s chancellor this June, he expressed an interest in engaging in and enriching the student experience, and he is living up to that commitment.
On November 5 at Traill College’s Bagnani Hall, Mr. Stohn served as the judge during a moot court exercise. Twenty-four students from the Trent/Swansea dual degree program were divided into plaintiff and defendant counsel teams to argue on behalf their clients. The plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyers were each representing a band member embroiled in a dispute over their rights to a song they collaborated on. One of the members unexpectedly changed the lyrics from being about the environment to become a love song in the midst of a live performance at Traill’s Trend.
The law students had no idea when they sat down to listen to the band that is was all a set up to set the stage for what would happen next in the Bagnani Hall court room.
“This event is a microcosm of the entire Trent experience,” assessed Mr. Stohn, a Trent alumnus and longtime entertainment and copyright lawyer.
“Trent teaches students to think in different ways – an adaptable way, a flexible way, a curious way, a compassionate way – by its emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches. Tonight these students are thinking in ways they haven’t thought before. They’ve read about law cases and talked about them but here they actually have clients forcing them out of their comfort zone to think in different ways.”
Rhonda Smith, coordinator of the Trent/Swansea law program, says the value of the moot court exercise can’t be overstated.
“I want them to feel confident talking on their feet,” she says. “They had none of the information before they came tonight. This is in the moment cold. How are you going to articulate your position and how are you going to work as a team?”
Brianne Menchion, a Political Studies major enrolled in the Trent/Swansea program, says the moot court experience strengthened her conviction that Trent is setting her up to be successful in law school.
“This not only gives me a little bit of an edge as to what I can expect,” Ms. Menchion says. “But it also helps me hone in on those skills I’m going to be using for the rest of my life.”
During the rendering of his verdict in favour of the plaintiff (and awarding her $1), Mr. Stohn recited the lyrics of Paul McCartney’s hit single Silly Love Songs from memory, providing some welcome levity during an otherwise serious session.
For all Mr. Stohn’s enjoyment of the student-enriching experiences he is bringing to Trent as chancellor, his performance may very well endure as the clearest example of just how much fun he is having.