Mtre Margherita Morsella

Mtre Margherita Morsella and the gift of self

By Pierre-Luc Beauchesne, lawyer

(Article published on June 22, 2021)

A member of the Bar since 1987, Margherita Morsella has always been involved in the community. In October 2020, Justice Pro Bono awarded her the “Prix Paris-Québec” for her years of concrete action in support of vulnerable women and people living in poverty, neglect, social exclusion and discrimination. Her career as a lawyer with a practice mainly focused on family law is a source of inspiration for those looking to effect change and, above all, give their fellow man a helping hand.

Mtre Morsella was 9 when she and her family left Italy to settle in Montreal. She’ll never forget arriving in America by boat, travelling through New York City and seeing the Statue of Liberty in the distance. She spent her early years in Quebec in Little Italy, where she quickly learned English and French. Very committed to her studies, she earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science at McGill University. Looking to revisit her roots, she also studied Civil Law for a year at “La Sapienza” University of Rome.” Her stay in Italy allowed her to reflect on her identity and the role she wanted to play as a woman and a professional. She decided to return to Montreal and continue her legal studies. She opted to study at UQAM because it offered her the opportunity to study in French, her third language, and its program was focused on social law, which greatly appealed to her.

Mtre Morsella’s social and community involvement in support of vulnerable women began long before she entered the legal profession. During her university studies in history and politics, she was already well involved in the Italian community and in various cultural and social groups. With several other women, she set up the Centro Donne, now called the Centre des femmes solidaires et engagées. She also worked for another community organization, the Women’s Centre, that supports women, most notably as a consumer assistance officer. Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mtre Morsella was still involved with the Women’s Centre, where she offered a legal clinic on Monday afternoons from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for over 25 years. She was also one of the co‑founders of the Collectif des femmes immigrantes, an organization that has accompanied immigrants in their job search and integration into Quebec society since 1984.

Without a doubt, her experience with the Women’s Centre informed her family law practice. After articling with Myriam Grassby, a family law lawyer who acted as a true role model, Mtre Morsella took her destiny into her own hands and set up her own company. From 1994 to 2005, she joined an executive centre where she worked with professionals from different backgrounds. From 2005 to 2010, she practised at Cerundolo & Maiorino and, after a stint at Mercadante Di Pace, she joined Kalman Samuels in 2013. Mtre Morsella has fond memories of the seven years she spent at this family law firm, where she had great teamwork experiences.

The world health crisis greatly impacted Mtre Morsella’s professional life. “The pandemic was a terrible time for me. It changed the way I had practised law for 33 years. I always loved getting out of the house and going to the office to interact with colleagues and clients. What has affected me the most is the lack of human contact.” In June 2020, Mtre Morsella decided to take a professional break and wait for a certain return to normalcy before returning to her law practice. She made the most of the past year by helping her father, who lives in a CHSLD, while continuing to be involved in the community at a distance.

The pandemic highlighted the fragility and vulnerability of seniors for Mtre Morsella. She has worked with the Forum des aînés and the Comité de travail contre l’abus des aînés to make cultural communities aware of these realities. In recent months, she has also given conferences and participated in radio interviews. Most recently, she has written articles that pay tribute to immigrant women and highlight their contribution to Quebec society. Writing has always been an essential part of Mtre Morsella’s life. In addition to writing articles and essays, she also writes poetry; some of her poems, mostly in Italian, have been published in various collections.

Mtre Morsella thrives on human contact. This kind-hearted lawyer hopes that life will return to normal as soon as possible so that she can continue to do what she loves and, above all, continue to help others.