Last year as a summer student, I wrote a blog titled Carriage of my first file
. It was about the shock factor, the wow factor, and once I got over both of those, how to actually deal with my very own small claims file from its inception. This year, as an articling student for less than three months’ time, I not only have been assigned my own small claims files, but I have already experienced the marvelous feeling of settling my first file at a settlement conference, one of the mandatory steps in the litigation process for small claims matters.
... I was excited to learn that a settlement conference was the next major step.
When I was given this subrogation file at the beginning of my articles, the plaintiff’s claim had already been filed with the Small Claims Court clerk, issued by the Small Claims Court clerk, and served on the defendant. I was tasked with taking over this file in the middle of its lifespan, which entailed reading through the correspondence, pleadings, and client documents to determine what stage the file was at.
After contacting the client and defendant’s counsel to inform them that I would be assuming carriage of this file, I was excited to learn that a settlement conference was the next major step. As this was my first settlement conference, I knew I had to be thoroughly prepared, not knowing what to expect. Luckily, a few days before the settlement conference, a senior associate offered me insight on what exactly goes on at a settlement conference and how I can best prepare myself. Another associate lent me his guide to small claims litigation, which was very useful in understanding the procedural aspect. Fortunately, at McCague Borlack, there are so many instances like these where associates and fellow articling students offer guidance and encouragement every step of the way.
On the day of the settlement conference, I arrived at the Small Claims Court 45 minutes before the scheduled time. I wanted to ensure I gave myself ample time so I wouldn’t have to rush and add that stress to my already nervous self. I read over my notes and went over in my head what our position and strategy were.
No matter how prepared I might have been I learned that day when I was in front of the deputy judge that even in Small Claims Court unexpected situations may arise. With my analytical reasoning and persuasiveness, I was able to properly respond to the curveballs the deputy judge threw my way. After one hour of negotiating, we reached a favourable settlement that the client was happy with!