University of Alberta Wins National Tax Moot


Maciej Zielnik (2L)

There’s something indescribably special about standing up in front of a panel made up of two Federal Court of Appeal Justices and the Chief Justice of the Tax Court in the final of a national moot. It should be absolutely terrifying but after the all the preparation that comes from the days leading up to the moot and from working up the ladder in the moot itself, a strange mix of excitement and calm replaces the fear. Everything after that moment is just a pure whirlwind of questions, answers and just doing your best to make a coherent case. Nothing I’ve done in law school thus far comes close to the exhilaration of participating in a competitive moot and that includes the first year session we all have to go through.


Every team in the Donald Bowman National Tax Moot has to do two rounds against different schools. After that things start to get really fun. The second round happens Saturday morning. A couple of hours later they announce the semi-finalists and half an hour after your team makes it in, you’re back up behind the podium making your case. This time though, because of the quick turnover, you don’t get to read the other side’s factum beforehand. As respondents, this made for one exciting semi-final. Since we hadn’t heard or anticipated some of the appellant’s unique arguments, we had to make up counter arguments on the fly because we knew there were questions coming. At this point, any script that you may have come up with over all the practice sessions goes out the window and it’s just your ability to think on your feet that gets you through. The final puts you in the same position except this time with higher stakes, a tougher panel and a packed courtroom. The experience is unique and totally worth all the work that goes into it.


Going in to the moot, I knew we had an excellent team and that we all had put in a ton of work but I never would have guessed that we’d go all the way. Putting all our work and preparation to the test against the best and brightest from law schools around the country and coming out on top was an incredible feeling. I am extremely proud of my teammates and thankful to our coach and all the excellent lawyers that helped us prepare. From start to finish, competing in a moot is a team effort.


Getting up in front of a panel of federal Justices to argue your case is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s not often that I manage to convince anyone to listen to me for 15 minutes at a time let alone some of the brightest legal minds in Canada. Win or lose, competing in the National Tax Moot is incredible and I encourage everyone to get involved whether you actually care about tax or think it’s an area of law best left to the nerds.