Continuing the Dialogue on Dispute Resolution

brendaJust Thinking Out Loud0 Comments


For two days at the end of May, 150 incredible people came together at the beautiful venue-SFU’s Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver to discuss Dispute Resolution at the British Columbia Arbitration & Mediation Institute (BCAMI) 2016 annually symposium.

The session began with the Honourable Suzanne Anton, British Columbia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General speaking about dispute resolution for the 21st Century and how we need to innovate our current justice system to put the focus back onto serving British Columbian’s with affordable and accessible justice.

I listened to insightful questions being asked of ADR Institute of Canada’s President Scott Siemens and the Honourable Wally Oppal as they discussed “A View from the Bench: Judiciary Perspective on ADR” and hearing how well (or not so well) Judges make good ADR Professionals. (As a former Judge, Wally seems to have transitioned quite well into the ADR field!)

Perhaps not your average topics for discussion but for the 150 people consisting of mainly commercial and family Mediators, Arbitrators & Lawyers we are little sponges soaking these dialogues up.  After all, we want… no correct that, we NEED to find solutions to aspects of disputes resolution that are not working and find both conventional and unconventional ways to help people overcome conflict.

Conflict isn’t a one-size-fits-all problem nor is Dispute Resolution a one-method-solves-all solution.

There are tons of talented Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Professionals using a variety of methods to help people resolve conflict. But there seems to be a disproportionate number of ADR Professionals to people looking for this solution to help solve their disagreements.

The question to ask is WHY? What is the problem

So here is my list of “why’s”:

  1. People have heard that mediation is faster so they expect fast means little or no effort in gathering the information they need for the mediation or they are overwhelmed with the amount of information they need to gather and they don’t know where to start so they don’t. (btw – Mediation is faster than the current 2-5 year wait for your day in court).
  2. People have heard that mediation is cheaper than going to a lawyer so they expect cheaper should be close to FREE. (I can’t tell you how many non-profits have questioned my mediation fee which by the way isn’t astronomical. Their typical response is       “We are a non-profit and can’t afford your services”)… never mind the fact that they haven’t calculated the cost that the conflict is having on their organization – but don’t get me on that!
  3. The ADR Industry has done a poor job at educating the public on ADR options and access. Most people still think mediation is the step before going to court and don’t realize it can be useful in so many other situations such as Stepfamily Mediation to help keep couples together or Conflict Management Group Coaching to help managers, supervisors, work teams and yes, all level’s of workers develop skills that serve them not only at work but also in their personal lives.
  4. Take a look at Mediation & Arbitration Professional websites… man, a lot of them look kind of scary and intimidating with legal jargon and definitions.  Hey colleagues, if we want people to utilize our services we need to give them a nice warm welcome rather than a stuffy corporate hand shake (just saying).

I have other “why’s” but that may start a fast digression from the original intent of this blog post.

I felt honoured to have the opportunity to present at this years BCAMI symposium on “Generational Differences in the Workplace” with my colleagues Melissa Ruckmick & Jerome Dickey.  30 ADR Professionals listened, discussed and debated the myths and facts around Generational Conflict.

What would have been a marriage made in heaven is if people who are not ADR Professionals came to the symposium and entered into a discussion on subjects that are important to them.  They could discuss issues such as the Environment, Workplace Harassment, Family Dynamics, Financial & Corporate Issues because you guessed it… these truly incredible people who attended the BCAMI symposium are specialists in these areas and could have provided this information to help educate and inform anyone who wants to learn.

For the few who attended who are not ADR Professionals, I commend you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen, learn and discuss ADR options and solutions.

For all the rest of the readers who wished they would have come but didn’t, I want to share the link to the 2016 BCAMI symposium where you can download the presenters powerpoint and discussion notes.  I encourage you to get in touch with the presenters who’s topics interest you (I happen to know ADR Professionals are always open to having a discussion) and continue the dialogue on Dispute Resolution. Here is the link to the BCAMI Symposium Downloads.




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