Getting Involved at Allard School of Law: The Guile Debate

One of UBC’s annual traditions is the Robert H. Guile, Q.C. Memorial Debate. Created to honour trickster, celebrated lawyer, and UBC alumnus, Bob Guile, the Guile Debate is an annual demonstration of why UBC law students should not quit our day jobs.


Last year’s winners weren’t photogenic enough to take a photo….so here a picture of some past winners.

There are two nights, with tryouts in mid-November and the actual debate at the end of January. For the tryouts participants get a generic resolution, such as Be it resolved the ends justify the means, and are expected to demonstrate their wit and wisdom in a five minute, prepared speech. The tryouts are open to everybody in the law school and the night is an assortment of brilliance and poor choices. Four finalists are chosen by a panel of local lawyers and professors, and the finalists are generally those people that were the least embarrassing and tried to make an argument that was funny, rather than those who just attempted stand-up comedy. Unlike the rest of life, puns tend to help, not hurt.

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Make no mistake: There are no shortage of hilarious and cringe worthy moments at the Guile Debate.

The finals are a grand evening with gowns, dignitaries, and refreshments. Notable judges have included the Chief Justice of British Columbia, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, as well as representatives from the Law Society of British Columbia, the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, the sponsoring firm Dentons Canada LLP, and the Société Midgetté/Alliance of Little Lawyers (s.m.a.l.l.), which was founded by Bob Guile.

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The coveted “Most Dangerous Debater” award

Needless to say, before judges like these, debaters need to bring their A-game. Not only are they charged with the arduous task of entertaining a raucous crowd of law students hungry for dangerous and edgy humour, they must also please the well-mannered and prestigious judges with their wit and intellect.

Class Photo - Guile

Robert H. Guile, Q.C., Class of ’56, trickster


But if that doesn’t sound interesting enough, know this – there’s a big cash prize! Finalists receive $250, the winning team receives an additional $250, and the top individual speaker wins yet another $250. And if this all sounds like something only 2Ls and 3Ls do, last year’s debate featured three 1Ls in the final, with an all-1L team winning.

Still sound scary? It shouldn’t. All in all, the Guile Debate is a couple of fun evenings spread out in the year and is a great way to use our brains for something a little more fun. There are laughs, there are drinks, and there is a break from the daily grind.

Check out video of some of the past debates: here, here, and here.

Thanks to Spencer Keys for sharing this post.

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