morrison llp family law moot

Morrison LLP Family Law Moot

Morrison LLP has proudly sponsored the Morrison LLP Family Law Moot at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law since 2022/2023.  The Moot is currently open to law students from both the University of Alberta and University of Calgary.

In addition to taking home the honored Joel D. Murphy Memorial Cup, the winning team walks away with a grand prize of $2,000.  A further $500 prize is awarded to the best oral advocate.  This is the largest cash prize for a moot competition in all of Canada.


Morrison LLP congratulates the University of Calgary for its victory in the inaugural Moot.

Mooters Aaron Brown and Jaclyn Finestone argued cogently and with great eloquence, and ultimately persuaded Justices R.A. Jerke, G.R. Fraser, and B.L. Bokenfohr of the Alberta Court of King’s Bench to rule in their favor.  Ms. Finestone earns additional congratulations for winning the title of Best Oral Advocate.

Congratulations are also in order for Melissa Oakley of Oakley Family Law for coaching her team to victory.

What Makes the Morrison LLP Moot Special?

What makes the Morrison LLP Family Law Moot unique is its focus on litigation.  Currently, most family law moots focus on mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution.  This leaves law students with the false impression that family law matters are rarely litigated—this could not be further from the truth.  In reality, almost 50% of litigation in Canada is related to a family law issue.

The Morrison LLP Family Law Moot specifically focuses on family and divorce litigation.  We hope this will help prepare law students for the reality of practicing as a family and divorce lawyer by giving them practice in making court submissions in a mock Special Chambers Hearing.

More from the University of Alberta Faculty of Law:

The Edmonton-based law firm of Morrison LLP – which was founded by a group of recent University of Alberta Faculty of Law graduates – is funding a new moot that will give students the opportunity to gain more exposure to family law.

The Morrison LLP Family Law Moot, which will be held for the first time in the spring of 2023, will initially be open to law students from both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. The winning team will be awarded a $2,000 prize.

“The U of A Law moot program was a positive experience commonly shared by many of us and is something we have carried with us in building our firm,” says Nicholas Kunysz (’18 JD), who is a partner at Morrison LLP along with Spencer Morrison (’18 JD), Dylan Morrison (’18 JD) and Joel Murphy (’17 JD). “We are deeply grateful for having been given those experiences and since graduating wished to somehow stay involved in mooting to give back to the program that benefited us so much.”

Kunysz’s colleague Erin Morrison (’18 JD) adds that she’s excited about the opportunity to return to her alma mater as a moot coach “to share the wisdom I received from my various moot coaches, mentors and volunteer panels that supported me along my mooting journey.”

Morrison competed in several moots during her first two years of law school – earning an honourable mention in the Brimacombe Selection Round Moot and participating in the Wilson Moot – before becoming a Writing Fellow in her final year.

“As dean of the Faculty of Law, I am at once grateful, proud and humbled by this initiative,” says Dean Barbara Billingsley. “As recent graduates of our program, the members of Morrison LLP have done an extraordinary thing by developing this moot as a way to pay forward the positive mooting experiences that they had as students. This new family law moot is a terrific example of the close connections that exist between our students, our alumni and the legal community.”

Speaking about the idea to establish a moot in family law, Kunysz says he unexpectedly found himself “captivated by the human element of family law” during his time as a law student.

“Big questions of how human relationships and society should work are united with the gritty questions of on-the-ground conflict resolutions,” he says. “No other course seized me the way family law did, and I knew this was going to be a part of my future.”

Kunysz was also inspired by his experience in the competitive moot program, particularly after winning the Alberta Court of Appeal Moot (Civil) in his second year of law school. “It was truly one of the highlights of my law school experience and convinced me of my intention to go into litigation,” he says.

However, when he inquired about participating in a family law moot, he discovered that nothing was available. Once they had graduated and started their own firm, it was a situation the lawyers at Morrison LLP wanted to change as soon as possible.

“Family law is a huge area of law, and yet there are comparatively very few dedicated family law moots,” Kunysz says. “The moots that do exist often focus on mediation/negotiation/alternative dispute resolution. Those skills are important, but a sizable chunk of family law still involves contentious litigation, and developing those advocacy skills remains essential.”

Kunysz, Morrison and their colleagues hope the new moot will allow students to develop these skills and gain more exposure to concrete family law issues and topics, which will help them understand how interconnected family law files are with other areas of law. Participation in the moot will also provide a way for students to showcase a distinct interest in family law on their resumes.

If students who compete in the moot decide to explore family law further after graduation, Kunysz stresses the importance of making sure it’s the right fit. “Family law is a demanding area to practice in that simultaneously requires empathy but also toughness and a comfort with confrontation,” he says.

But for the emerging lawyers who ultimately decide to follow in their footsteps, it’s a path the lawyers at Morrison LLP know first-hand can lead to an extremely fulfilling career.

“Family law is the law that most impacts the daily lives of friends and family,” says Morrison. “[It’s] designed for creative people. Often what the parties are looking for is a unique solution that involves compromise and creative problem solving.”

“In family law you get to walk with people through what is often the most difficult moment of their lives,” says Kunysz. “But helping people work through that suffering is profoundly meaningful. You truly have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Morrison LLP looks forward to building a long-standing partnership with the University of Alberta and its future students.