Advocacy Week Wrap-Up

Advocacy Week Wrap-Up

By the Clinic/Campus Division of the Osgoode Mediation Program

Last month, the Osgoode Mediation Clinic (OMC), Campus-Clinic Division, successfully hosted its second annual Osgoode Advocacy Week. This is a relatively new initiative for the clinic as the idea was first conceived in 2019. Although Osgoode Advocacy Week 2020 was cancelled due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, all the hard work that went into developing the events was adopted, amended, and transformed into a virtual edition of Advocacy Week over the last two years.

This week was filled with events that promoted the benefits of oral advocacy and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) while also generating further interest in the services the OMC can provide. The events took place in a completely virtual format to allow for maximum participation of students and stakeholders. Students who participated in 3 or more of the events received a certificate of completion in the basics of ADR from the Winkler Institute of Dispute Resolution.

It was very important for us to continue the tradition of this event as it aligns with the Campus-Clinic’s mission statement to provide students and local organizations with mediation, negotiation, and conflict & dispute resolution training through workshops, seminars, and simulations. As well this Advocacy Week helps to promote access to justice by bringing awareness to the Clinic’s mediation services and learning opportunities to the local community.

An overview of each event that took place over the week-long program follows:

Monday Event: Mediation 101

Mediation 101 Zoom Screenshot


Arielle Masur and Stefania Mariani kicked off Osgoode Advocacy week on February 7th with a presentation entitled Mediation 101. There was a great turnout of 60 participants, which primarily consisted of first- and second-year Osgoode students. This presentation provided an overview of the mediation process, outlined the importance of mediation, and specifically focused on what law students need to know as future lawyer practitioners.

The presentation began by discussing ADR generally. Next, it focused on mediation by providing a summary of the parties involved, an outline of the process, its benefits, and specific instances for which it would be ideal to consider mediation. To elaborate on mandatory and voluntary mediation in Ontario, the presentation also highlighted the relevant legal rules and used a decision tree to illustrate a summary of mediatable cases. Afterwards, Arielle and Stefania turned to what effective advocacy would look like, as a lawyer on behalf of your client, within the mediation process. For this they discussed topics including preparing a client for mediation, caucusing, settlement offers and working with the mediator.

To conclude the presentation, Arielle and Stefania prepared a game to test the participant's knowledge of the content presented. They used the highly interactive platform called Quizizz, and had the participants answer questions on their individual devices for a chance to win a small prize.

Tuesday Event: Mediation Workshop

The second Advocacy Week event was the “Mediation Workshop”, hosted by Phoebe Goldig and Kathleen Gregus. This event was designed to put theory into practice, draw upon material that participants had been exposed to on Day One of Advocacy week, and provide students with an opportunity to test their knowledge in a simulated meditation setting. Logistically, participants were required to register for the event with their Osgoode email through Eventbrite, enabling the hosts to assign participant roles and corresponding confidential facts prior to the start of the event. Participants were thus afforded the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their roles and the facts for the mediation simulation.

At the start of the event, Phoebe and Kathleen gave a presentation on the 4 stages of community mediation.  Their discussion focused largely on the tips and tools mediators might use when conducting a mediation, including caucusing; reminding the parties of the BATNA/WATNA; flexibility with process design and execution; navigating cultural and communication barriers among the parties; and intervening when the parties are not following the “ground rules” that were set out at the start of the mediation.

Following the introductory presentation, participants were sent into breakout rooms to conduct the simulated mediation in groups of three or four.  Each group member was preassigned the role of either Mediator, Party 1, or Party 2. If the breakout room was a group of four, participants carried out the simulation using the co-mediator model in teams of two.  Participants were given approximately 30 minutes to resolve the dispute. The conflict at issue was between two neighbours who could not get along due to their cultural differences: Party 1, an immigrant to Canada, was cooking with fragrances and making noises that Party 2 felt were disturbing their peace.

Importantly, participants were informed that the goal of the exercise was not necessarily to come to a full resolution, especially given the tight time constraint. Rather, the goal was to enable students to test out the mediation techniques in a low-pressure, supportive environment.  After the simulation, all participants re-entered the main Zoom room and engaged in a meaningful discussion about their experience in the simulation, challenges that arose throughout the process, and techniques they found particularly effective.

Wednesday Event: ADR Panel: Real-World Solutions

Panel Zoom Screenshot

The third Advocacy Week event, hosted by Melissa Paglialunga and Josiah Schaafsma, consisted of a panel of practitioners who spoke about their experiences in ADR. The 46 attendees who joined the virtual event via Zoom were able to hear from lawyers at Niman Mamo LLP, UHN, McCarthy Tétrault, and Norton Rose Fulbright to find out about the 96% of cases that do not end up going to court. The four panellists who participated in the event were:

  • Adam Keeping - Family Lawyer at Niman Mamo LLP
  • Jacob Klugsberg - Litigation Associate at McCarthy Tétrault
  • Anisha Visvanatha - Litigation Associate at Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Deanna Webb - Director, Legal Counsel for Labour & Employment at University Health Network (UHN)

The panellists were provided with the potential questions a week in advance to allow for thoughtful preparation and a variety of responses. The practitioner provided insights into topics such as preparing for court versus mediation, reflecting on times when they represented clients in a mediation, as well as advice for students interested in ADR. This event allowed attendees to gain deeper insights into the ways in which mediation is integrated into the practice of many lawyers, from family law to labour and employment law to litigation in both the firm and in-house environments.

Thursday Event: 1L Winkler Negotiation Competition

The Winkler Negotiation Competition served as an Advocacy Event for first-year Osgoode students. Working collaboratively, the Osgoode Advocacy Society (OAS) and members of the Campus-Clinic Division of the Mediation Clinic hosted an exciting one-round competition. The selected dispute fact pattern was multi-party (4 teams of 2 in each room). 

After signing up via a Google Form, 24 first-year students were eager and ready to exercise their negotiation skills in this fictional scenario. This multi-party dispute arose during summertime in Summerville. The facts included the following conflict scenario: the Scranton Employment Center just finished the first year of a new contract to provide cleaning services at the Dunder Mifflin Building.  Unfortunately, in this initial year, the contract went from a smooth start to a rocky finish.  Recent events led to several disagreements about whether Scranton was meeting its obligations under the contract.  The parties agreed to meet to resolve the numerous issues that arose and to negotiate the renewal of the annual contract.

Once the negotiating portion of the competition concluded, each team was provided feedback from the team of student judges, comprised of OAS executive members.  In addition, members of the “Top Team” and the three “Top Negotiations” were all awarded plaques to commemorate their achievements.

Friday Event: Osgoode Mediation Clinic Open House

For the final event of Advocacy Week 2022, Mario Lofranco and Behnam Nadimfard hosted the Osgoode Mediation Clinic Open House. This event was 1-hour and was split into a 30-minute presentation and a 30-minute Q&A session. The event has speakers from all three of the Osgoode Mediation Clinic’s divisions: Campus Clinic, Neighbourhood, and Family & Youth.

The goal of this Open House was twofold. First, it was meant to provide Osgoode students who were interested in the clinic an opportunity to learn more about what we do, who we are and how to get involved. The presentation broke down the roles and responsibilities of clinic members and had examples of clinic files that students might encounter, depending on which division they choose to participate in. The second goal of the Open House was to allow both existing clients and potential clients to see what services the Osgoode Mediation Clinic offers. This was done to increase the clinic’s presence in both the local North York community and the broader Ontario community. Since mediations can now be done online, the clinic is able to expand to clients outside of Osgoode and the North York area. There was a great turnout at this event with 70 participants.

Overall, Osgoode Advocacy Week 2022 was a great success. We are excited to see how the next cohort of students in the Campus-Clinic Division carry on and evolve this new tradition in the coming years.