A Simple Script for Suggesting Mediation

As Darrin suggests, have a conversation with the other person either by writing an email, calling them, or speaking with them in person. Then, with all the gentleness, respect, and humility you can muster, say something like this:

Template for Suggesting Mediation

Hi [first name];

We have this dispute over ________. We can’t get through this without some help. I’d like to try mediation, and here’s why:

  • It is quick,
  • We are in control of the outcomes,
  • It is really cost-effective, and
  • It’s private.

I think that could work for us, and I am committed to working with you to find some solutions so we can move on. Is that something you’d be interested in? 

I took a look at the Mediate BC directory and have found these Registered Roster Mediators (RRMs) who I think would be good for our dispute:

Please let me know which of these RRMs you prefer. If none of them are suitable, feel free to search through the Mediate BC directory and offer some more options. I believe we can find one who we will both be comfortable working with.

If you have any questions or concerns about mediation, Mediate BC has plenty of information on its website. 




Mediation and MyLawBC

In many cases, if you have the right tools and information, you can avoid taking the adversarial approach. This can save time, money, energy, and frustration. MyLawBC, a new tool from the Legal Services Society, helps people solve common legal problems as efficiently and painlessly as possible.

While MyLawBC helps people solve common legal problems, it can also be a useful tool for legal professionals to use with their clients.

Finding the information you need

MyLawBC doesn’t take the usual approach to helping people. It focuses on interactivity to engage users and provides curated information that gives the user just the information they need, when they need it.

MyLawBC asks you questions about your situation, then uses your answers to diagnose your legal issue. As you answer questions, the system learns more about your problem and, in the end, gives you an action plan specific to your situation. The action plan helps you solve your legal problem.

Action plans

Finding information about legal issues online usually isn’t that difficult. Applying that information to your specific situation, though, can be intimidating. That’s why MyLawBC’s main goal is actionable information. MyLawBC gives you a custom action plan that lays out the steps you need to take to solve your problem. You can download your action plan for future reference.

Each action plan contains:

  • Basic, essential background information about your legal problem.
  • A clear set of first steps you can take immediately. If you’re determined, you can start on these without even leaving your computer.
  • The next steps you need to take, which may be longer term.
  • A list of resources, including in-person services that can help you along the way.

These action plans are not strictly about legal processes; the law can only be half the picture. They also cover practical issues you might experience. For example, for people who are separating, MyLawBC provides a Coping with Separation Handbook that deals with the emotional toll: communicating with your ex, how to talk to your children about your separation, ways to help your children cope with their emotions, and more. MyLawBC also focuses on directing people to alternative solutions, such as mediation, when appropriate.

Helping with common legal problems

MyLawBC helps with a range of issues from writing a will, to dealing with foreclosure, to family issues. For mediators, the family section is probably of most interest.

MyLawBC helps people determine the best way for them to work with their spouse as they separate. This looks at the couple’s issues, sticking points, and their self-assessment of their personal dynamic and then suggests the most appropriate options for them to work together. As they answer the website’s questions, MyLawBC helps to put the user in the right mindset so that they can see where options to stay out of court can work for them.

There are also sections to help you get a family order when you do need to go to court and how to respond if you’ve been served with court documents.

The Dialogue Tool

MyLawBC also features a tool specific to divorce and separation. The Dialogue Tool helps you create a fair and lasting separation agreement. Both you and your spouse set out your initial thoughts on what your agreement should look like. MyLawBC then gives you a chance to compare your responses and see how close you are on the issues. MyLawBC uses your initial ideas to create a template of a separation agreement. You then work with your spouse on the platform to customize this template. Along the way, the Dialogue Tool gives you the resources and information you need to make informed decisions.

While this is a great tool, it may not be appropriate for everyone. It requires a level of cooperation that isn’t always there. Couples who cannot complete the process by themselves may still find it a useful tool though. In cases of mediation, it might be considered good homework: by working through the tool, clients can come to the table with a better perspective of what they want and can expect. This head start can put everyone on the same page — or, at the very least, in the same chapter.

Moving forward

MyLawBC represents a shift in the way the Legal Services Society delivers legal information to the public. As with any new project, feedback is essential to refine and improve the site. While the Legal Services Society created the site with the input and work of mediators, we’re interested in hearing more from alternative dispute resolution professionals as we move forward.

Nate Prosser Photo

Nate Prosser is the Online Outreach Coordinator at the Legal Services Society. You can follow the latest from the Legal Services Society on Twitter @LegalAidBC.




2015 Susanna Jani Award for Excellence in Mediation

Joyce Bradley 2015 Award RecipientOn Friday, September 18th Brian Gibbard (the new Mediate BC Board of Directors Chair) and Monique Steensma (Mediate BC CEO) presented Joyce Bradley, QC with the Susanna Jani Award for Excellence in Mediation.

Joyce has been mediating since 1984, after having been called to the Bar in 1979. She had a hand in the establishment of several mediation organizations (SPIDR, FMC, MDABC) and developing standards of practice. Joyce went on to become one of the first Certified Comprehensive Family Mediators through FMC. She was the first lawyer who had restricted her practice to mediation (1989) to be named Queen’s Counsel in 2003. Joyce has always made herself available to other mediators formally through coaching and mentoring (Mediate BC, JIBC, CLE, CoRe Clinic, Child Protection Mediation Program) and informally as well.

On receiving the award, Joyce commented:

One of the things I think was most exciting about having watched this field develop is the many areas it’s moved into, the many ways it’s been adapted – people have found so many things to do with it!

…I think when I got my QC (which heaven knows having given up the practice of traditional law in ’89 I never expected THAT to happen!) I regarded it as a sign that mediation had come of age: in the courts; in the legal community; in the mental health community; and all the other areas where these new initiatives were springing up.

Congratulations Joyce!


About the Susanna Jani Award for Excellence in Mediation

The Susanna Jani Award for Excellence in Mediation, established in 2009is an annual award acknowledging a person who has made a significant contribution to the field of mediation in BC. Previous recipients include Ron Tucker, Gordon Sloan, Sharon Sutherland, Peggy English, Lee Turnbull, Carole McKnight, Sally Campbell, and M. Jerry McHale, QC.


ODR Tools for Kids?

In BC, ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) is a key component of the Civil Resolution Tribunal, MyLawBC and the Mediate BC ODR Pilot (Robson Square small claims disputes). We expect that the younger generation will adopt these tools more readily than older folks (with some exceptions of course!) so a good question is:

How are we engaging with young people to assist them to engage with conflict in a healthy way using technology?

A new platform has been developed by Kelly Sorbera and Alec Go especially for kids. It is called OTTER, “an award-winning online dispute resolution (ODR) solution that includes an “automated mediator” and other dispute resolution tools to help kids resolve conflicts.” OTTER was originally presented at ODR2014 where it was awarded 1st place in the Tech For Justice Hackathon. Check out the description and information video here.

You will note that OTTER was seeking backing through Kickstarter, but did not achieve its funding goal. Mediate BC is not endorsing this product but we think it is definitely worth taking a look to see what the future might hold!

  • What do you think about OTTER?
  • Do you think early awareness and education for children about effective conflict engagement is important?
  • How do you think technology can assist?
  • What dispute resolution projects are you involved with for children and youth? Is technology playing a critical role?

Let us know!


It is now available at OtterKids.com

Robson Square ODR Pilot Open for Business!

The ODR Pilot was developed over the past 18 months in cooperation with the Office of the Chief Judge, Court Services Branch, the Dispute Resolution Office at the Ministry of Justice, the Justice Education Society and Mediate BC.

In early November, the ODR Pilot started to invite parties to applicable small claims cases in Rule 7.4 to apply to have their mandatory mediation conducted via the ODR process, instead of the standard process where parties attend an in-person session for two hours at the Courthouse.

In the first stage of the ODR Pilot, a mediator will work with the parties on a text-based platform where they can communicate, upload documents and images, and begin work on a potential agreement. In this stage, parties can participate anytime they like; the platform is available to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and communications are asynchronous. All parties require is an internet connection and a computer, tablet or smart phone.

Cases can reach full settlement in the first stage, or may go to a second stage where parties meet with the mediator in a live web conference or teleconference to conclude the mediation. All cases settled in the ODR Pilot can use the same Court-enforceable Mediation Agreement that is used for in-person mediations.

Parties who settle their disputes using the ODR Pilot need never set foot in the Courthouse. Those who do not settle will proceed to trial conference, just as if they had attended an in-person mediation.

A small group of experienced Small Claims Mediators participated in a training program for the ODR Pilot and will be conducting these mediations: Neil Hain, Leanne Harder, Sharon Sutherland and Dan Williams.


We welcome this special guest post today from Monique Steensma, Manager of the Court Mediation Program of Mediate BC.