Mediation is a voluntary process. Unlike traditional litigation (trial) or an arbitration where a judge or an arbitrator makes a decision (and hence takes away decision making power from the parties), mediation allows the parties to take initiative to negotiate and reach a resolution on their own. Therefore, the outcome from mediation is often more mutually satisfying than that from a litigation.
Participating in mediation is significantly less stressful than going through litigation or even arbitration. That is because litigation involves many adversarial steps such as Questioning (also known as Discovery or Examination) and trial where what the party said can be used against them and often results in a win-lose outcome made by a third party. The fact that a third party is making a decision is the same for arbitration. Mediation, in contrast, is carried out in a safe environment because the parties agree to keep exchanged information out of the court (“without prejudice”). In addition, the goal of mediation is to reach a win-win solution by the parties.
A mediator should be trained to stay neutral and promote candid discussion so that the parties can deepen each other’s understanding. A mediator will not provide solutions or weigh in on a particular resolution over other idea. Nonetheless, it is definitely beneficial to choose a lawyer who has a deep understanding of the subject matter as your mediator. While a mediator cannot provide a legal opinion (e.g. “You should/ should not do this because it is beneficial/ detrimental for you”), they can provide valuable legal information (e.g. “the law says…” “if you two go to the Court, the likely outcome is…”) as the parties negotiate.
Anybody could call themselves as a mediator. However, the BARR LLP mediation team is committed to solidifying their skills by going through rigorous mediation training from well-recognized organizations before qualifying as mediators.
BARR LLP's Mediation Team
One of our named partners, Yoko Azumaya, has built her practice through a collaborative style. She has taken over 120 hours of mediation training from organizations such as ADR Institute of Alberta (ADRIA) and Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) and is committed to continued training as she firmly believes that being an effective mediator requires skills that can be perfected only through extensive practice. Although mediation skills are transferrable to many kinds of disputes, she exclusively mediates family matters as she would like to combine her experience of more than 10 years of Family Law with Mediation skills.
Our other mediator is Stephen English. He had his mediation training at Harvard University. With his extensive Corporate Litigation experience, he focuses on mediating civil matters.