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NSW Facilitative SIG organises successful breakfast discussion

More than 50 practitioners packed the venue at Holman Webb Lawyers in Sydney for an interactive breakfast discussion on the principles of mediation and the involvement of lawyers, their training, mind set and approach to DR.

The event was the initiative of NSW Facilitative SIG committee who wanted to try out an alternative to after work networking meetings. Jonathan Casson, Partner at Holman Webb Lawyers who was also one of the speakers at the event, saw this as an opportunity to create a crossflow of ideas between the firm and Resolution Institute.

SIG committee member Chris Pitts, who was the convenor of the event, said that the Committee sought to emulate similar meetings held by the determinative SIG in conjunction with the legal community. “The benefits of the partnership and joint marketing for Holman Webb and Resolution Institute were increased exposure and awareness for both organisations to wider and new audiences," Chris said.

The topic chosen for the panel discussion – Lawyers and mediation-a help or hindrance – was both challenging and informative. Attendees were able to gain valuable insight on how lawyers prepare for and conduct mediations. Jonathan said the relaxed atmosphere aided the easy exchange of knowledge between the audience and the panel.

Attendee, Louise Mathias, barrister, mediator and family law arbitrator said: “I believe lawyers, generally, are not educated in how to conduct themselves at mediation and tend to automatically take on the adversarial role.” She thought the discussion gave a good insight on what lawyers would be encouraged to ask mediators to see if it’s the right fit.

Mediator and RI member, Jennifer Scott, attended to hear the lawyers’ perspective to inform her teaching of a post grad law course on DR in Civil Law. She was surprised that lawyers still often seek out a  ‘name’ - an ex judge or Silk - rather than a skilled mediator!  Jennifer found the discussion identified ways that lawyers can prepare clients better for mediation.

Based on the responses from this breakfast event, Chris Pitts said that the Facilitative SIG committee is keen to hold similar sessions in future and may hold two or three similar early morning events later this year. Jonathan Casson said this model also worked for Holman Webb in other contexts and it seemed well suited for further meetings with Resolution Institute.

Resolution Institute keenly supports and encourages such initiatives by its Chapters and committees across Australia and New Zealand and welcomes other innovations in providing CPD networking opportunities for members to interact with users of and advisers in DR processes.