Firm News

Fillmore Riley sponsors inaugural Western Canada Family Law Negotiation Competition

Fillmore Riley LLP is proud to sponsor the inaugural Western Canada Family Law Negotiation Competition. The Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba will host law students and coaches from the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Saskatchewan for the Western Canada Family Law Negotiation Competition, March 6-7, 2020.

This inaugural competition will bring together members of the judiciary, family law practitioners, and faculty to work together to help train law students to be family law lawyers in the modern Canadian context. In family law, the access to justice crisis has propelled legislation and practice norms to move towards non-adversarial dispute resolution processes.

In Manitoba, it is now mandatory for some separating families to engage in negotiation and/or mediation prior to involving the courts. As a result, lawyers are now required to build new skills, particularly in the areas of alternative dispute resolution processes. In addition to furthering substantial knowledge of family law, the competition will provide a means for law students to practice and improve their negotiating skills. The competition will simulate legal negotiations in which law students, acting as lawyers, negotiate a series of family law issues.

Law students will compete in teams of two.  Each team will negotiate with the opposing teams in three successive rounds of increasing complexity. The competition will be judged by various members of Manitoba’s judiciary and its senior family law practitioners.

“Speaking as a member of the family law bar, I would like to express how important it is to us to contribute to the training of the next generation of family law practitioners,” said Marcelin Murray, a partner and family lawyer at Fillmore Riley. “We were all law students once, and we are delighted to now be in a position to share our experience and knowledge, and create opportunities for today’s students to become effective lawyers of tomorrow.”

The competition will take place at the offices of Fillmore Riley. Other Winnipeg law firms have also contributed resources to help make the competition a success. A total of 12 individuals have devoted countless hours to organizing this event. The committee includes members of the judiciary, lawyers and faculty from the competing schools. Along with Natasha Brown, a family lawyer of 14 years and Director of Professional Practice and Externships at Robson Hall, the Manitoba members of the committee are Marcelin Murray and Justices Annette Horst and Kaye Dunlop.

“As Dean of Law I am very pleased that Robson Hall is hosting the inaugural Western Canada Family Law Negotiation Competition,” said Dr. Jonathan Black-Branch. “We at Robson Hall are undergoing an important transformation of our family law course offerings with externships, experiential learning and clinical practicum opportunities.”