On May 15, 2014 the International Academy of Mediators partnered with the Winkler Institute of Dispute Resolution at Osgoode Hall law school and brought together a cross-section of the top commercial litigators in the country, for the Winkler Institute's inaugural event. It was a CLE day entitled Effectively Representing your Client in Mediation. From the United States distinguished fellows: Denise Madigan; Eric Galton; Jack Waddey; and Marvin Johnson teamed up with distinguished fellows from Canada, Jon Fidler; Rick Russell; Cliff Hendler; and Paul Iacono, who organized and chaired the event.
It was a major success. The newly launched Winkler Institute, whose mission statement talks about the global analysis of dispute resolution with a view to making it better was certainly satisfied that its presence was felt. "We sought to achieve a certain chemistry, by demonstrating different approaches that are taken in mediation on both sides of the border." As a result of these differences, the dialogue between the panels and the audience demonstrated that it was a great learning experience for both mediators and advocates alike.
Eric Galton, immediate past president of the Academy, gave the keynote address. His comments concerning the role and obligation of the mediator to preserve, and control the process as opposed to the role of the advocate, which is to control the result, was extremely appropriate and well received by the Canadian audience.
The various panels, dealt with typical mediation analysis, beginning with preparation, the pros and cons of an opening session, caucusing. and negotiating strategies, as well as closing the deal, breaking impasse and the challenges posed by last-minute ethical issues.
The highlight of the day came in the final panel, when recently retired Chief Justice Warren Winkler (for whom the Institute is named) teamed up with Academy, past president, Eric Galton, and they proceeded to challenge to prominent Canadian litigators with some tough questions. This particular discussion could have continued for many more hours. A live audience as well as those on the web were completely engrossed.
The program was well attended with a larger than expected internet audience. We can all learn from each other and it is clear that in the U.S. mediation is in a different place and is evolving differently than the Canadian process. On the other hand the approach of the Canadian litigation bar to mediation, informs our U.S. colleauges that from a mediators point of view the Canadians mediate in paradice.
A decision has been made to make this an annual event, and it will occur at approximately the same time every year. The bar is set high but the IAM will raise it still higher, We will look forward to next year. Thanks to all the participants.