Their eyes on the shifting landscape of the legal profession, students explore the spectrum of dispute resolution, with input from a host of legal practitioners.


The conversation was animated as Tim Apedaile, 3L, Amanda Santache, 2L, Molly Churchill, 3L and exchange student Yong Zhu Chen discussed the ethical implications of acting as legal counsel during a mediation session. There were the considerations about how to fairly represent the different parties, and there was also the issue of understanding how mediation and arbitration fit into the larger legal process.

The students were part of the Faculty’s new course on mediation, a course designed to introduce students to different methods of resolving disputes.

“The nature of conflict and the ways of addressing it are as varied  as the techniques required of a skilled mediator,” noted Assistant Dean Véronique Bélanger, who taught the course with Professor Geneviève Saumier. “That is why we invited different practitioners to share their perspectives and experiences in our class.”

Guest speakers included experienced mediators Richard McConomy, Pierrette Sévigny, Pascal Mutombo, Hélène Rouleau, Marie-Claire Belleau, Jonathan Elston and Louise Otis; negotiation professor Jay Hewlin; as well as Me Martin Sheehan who addressed the role of legal counsel in mediation. All generously shared their expertise and insights into the mediation and negotiation process with the students.

The course included mediation demonstrations, as well as simulation opportunities in which students took on roles as various parties in a conflict. It also addressed legal issues that may arise from mediation, such as questions of confidentiality as well as the enforcement of a settlement agreement. The last day of class featured group project presentations in which teams created videos of mediation simulations.

3L Tim Apedaile chose to take the course to build on the mediation summer seminar he had taken with visiting Faculty member and former justice at the Quebec Court of Appeal, Louise Otis. “Taking a course taught by a judge is always fun,” he said. At the same time, his presence in Mediation LAWG 516 highlights his desire to further explore methods of alternative dispute resolution: “This course is also about the hope that not everything has to go to court.”