Friday, 6 July 2018

The Virgin Diary - My First Mediation

For my first assignment as a summer student, I assisted with a case that has been ongoing for eight years. The case was a complicated one with multiple legal issues. The file was made inherently more difficult by the number of parties involved. In law school, we read about cases only once judgments have been released but we were not exposed to all the work, time and effort that leads up to that conclusion.

"Outside of the theory of law school classes, I learned that the practice of law
 is not quite the same as portrayed in legal textbooks."


Last week, I was provided with the opportunity to attend the mediation for this case. I had never experienced any form of ADR (other than those I watched from my couch on tv) so I did not know what exactly to expect. This mediation was a great learning experience about how a mediation is conducted and how each lawyer has a unique style.

Below are my top 5 unexpected discoveries from the mediation:

Everyone is cordial. Unlike in Suits or similar legal dramas where lawyers are snarky and combative towards one another, the lawyers, even those on opposing sides, were respectful and courteous.

It is time-consuming. We arrived at the location of the mediation at 10 a.m. and did not leave the venue until 4:15 p.m. While the mediation I attended settled in that time frame, some mediations take even longer.

Food! From the minute we arrived at the mediation venue until the very end of the day, food was at the centre of everyone’s mind. Everyone eats throughout the entire day. You have to keep up your energy when advocating for your client!

There can be a lot of free time. A big aspect of mediations is negotiations, with the mediator acting as the intermediary between the parties. While the negotiation aspect of the mediation is taking place, the mediator may separate the parties into different rooms to determine what each party is seeking to gain from the mediation process. While the mediator is with one party, the opposing party/parties are playing the waiting game.

pixabay GDJ

It provides great networking opportunities. Being in a room full of lawyers has its benefits, especially for someone just starting out in the legal profession. At the venue where this mediation took place, there were multiple boardrooms with many different meetings, such as mediations, taking place. With so many lawyers in one location, it makes for a great opportunity to meet and talk with other members of the legal community.

Overall the mediation was a great experience and I look forward to being exposed to many more new opportunities as the summer continues.