Law Alumni Association President & Partner, McCarthy Tétrault

Illustration by Joel Kimmel

From the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of Nexus


Paul Morrison, LLB 1975

Why did you volunteer with the Law Alumni Association?

I find engagement with the law school to be very rewarding and interesting. I like the collegiality of it. I believe alumni have an obligation to give back to their schools, if they can. So I try to give back not only to the law school but also to where I completed my undergraduate education, the University of Pennsylvania. I try to take advantage of the fact that I can give back more readily to the law school because I’m based in Toronto.


What are your main priorities?

To cultivate alumni engagement with the Faculty of Law. I believe our alumni are missing out on something if they’re not connecting with, or participating in, a law school activity. With so many graduates practicing in and around Toronto, we have a particular opportunity to foster alumni engagement. This is not a situation where you have to take time away from something else to stay in touch with the law school. You really need to think about it as part of your fun time. It’s not stressful, and depending upon any person’s level of engagement, it’s not time consuming.  The point I want to get across is: support the law school because you’ll find it rewarding and engaging—and fun—as I do. And because the law school needs you.


What are the hidden gems of the law school?

The whole thing is a hidden gem! [laughs] I really mean it, especially the upcoming gem that is the physical facility. Anybody who went to the school in the last 40 years is going to feel that the physical facility was always much inferior to the quality of education, the quality of professors and the quality of the experience. We’re soon going to have a wonderful, new building that everyone has been waiting for.


How do you see the LAA supporting the dean’s priority of student financial aid?

A lot of people wonder about the high tuition fees these days. The law school has its expenses, and some of the most important reasons for them are that the school has to be in the position to attract top faculty, and provide strong, co-curricular opportunities, both of which contribute to the reputation of the school and to the level of education and experiences that students have. I’m certainly convinced. I think it’s very important to support financial aid so that qualified students don’t forgo the opportunity to attend the Faculty of Law. This is a challenge that other professional schools, such as business, medicine, engineering, and other law schools face as well. And the answer to that is to have a strong financial aid program.


In a world of competing charitable demands, how would you convince alumni to give to student financial aid?

I say this unabashedly: I think U of T has the best law school in the country. We deliver leaders in all areas of the Canadian legal, business and public interest landscape. It has that reputation, and as a graduate, I want the school to continue to have that reputation. And one of the important ways it can maintain that reputation is by attracting the best student candidates in Canada. So it comes back to the importance of financial aid because many of the best candidates potentially can be intimidated by tuition levels, and it’s vital we not let that happen. The best way to address that potential problem is to ensure that financial aid is available to those students who need it most.


What’s your favourite law school memory?

The parties that we had with others in the law school because they were a lot of fun. It was a great opportunity to get to know everyone, not only those in your own year. When I first arrived at the law school, and saw people dancing at parties, I said to my now-wife: “Gee whiz, brains can’t dance!” Because they were all terrible dancers, but the parties were terrific! [laughs].


What’s a little known secret about Paul Morrison?

I’m a great dancer! [laughs]. I’m famous for my dancing, I really am, and that’s a true story. My kids will tell you that once I get the juices flowing, I’m a terrific dancer. It’s well known by those who have seen me at parties. The “funky chicken’ is a particular speciality!