Mediation is a dispute resolution process where people who have disputes agree to try to resolve their problems outside of court. They hire the services of a mediator, who is a neutral and trained professional. Mediators are trained to facilitate settlements using "interest-based" negotiation. This is where the mediator works with the parties to understand the underlying reasons for the dispute, which can lead to a better appreciation of the issues and reach practical settlements that can be satisfactory to all. Mediators do not make decisions for the parties, but use their skills to facilitate settlements and summarize those settlements to form the basis of written agreements which can then be binding in court.
Mediation has been used for over 40 years in North America and has an excellent track record. Mediation typically costs much less than a court process and parties are usually quite satisfied with the results because they agree to settlements that work for them. Mediators cannot provide independent legal advice. Parties may have their lawyers attend the mediation, or parties may attend mediation without lawyers but meet with their lawyers to discuss the results of the mediation and ensure they have the appropriate legal advice to make final decisions.
Family Law Mediation
I trained as a family law mediator in 1996 and incorporated mediation skills and techniques into my law practice. I began mediating client disputes in 2001 and practiced mediation along with collaborative family law. In 2013 the BC Family Law Act increased the training requirements for family law mediators and I am fully certified by the Law Society of BC as a Family Law Mediator, with over 100 hours of training, including family violence training. I am very hands-on and practical. I work with clients to review all aspects of their family law issues to ensure that their mediated settlements are complete and satisfactory. I mediate all areas of family law, including parenting arrangements, child and spousal support and the division of family property (which may include real estate, pensions, businesses, trusts and inheritances) and debts. I am sensitive, flexible and use my experience and skills to ensure that settlements reached are fair and within the bounds of family law. I will work with clients who do not have legal counsel (although I insist they consult with lawyers to ensure they have independent legal advice) and I work with clients who wish their lawyers present at the mediation. I also often work with other professionals, such as psychologists, counsellors and financial experts, depending on the clients' needs and issues. I have experience co-mediating disputes with other mediation professionals using a team approach.
Family law mediation has an excellent success rate: see a November 3, 2015 article in the Vancouver Sun by legal columnist Ian Mulgrew.
I mediate disputes including personal injury, contracts, creditor/debtor, and other matters that would otherwise be in Small Claims or Supreme Court. I practiced personal injury law, creditor/debtor law and contract dispute law and I can help to resolve issues cost-efficiently and effectively.
Sometimes beneficiaries of estates have disputes about what they have or have not received when someone passes away. Bringing these kinds of matters before the courts is not only costly, but often ruins family relationships permanently. If you are affected by an estate dispute, you may want to consider mediation as a safe, fair, cost-effective and sensitive way of resolving this kind of dispute. I have dealt with estate issues and I am sensitive to the emotional and financial toll on family members.
Small Business Mediation
Small businesses can be involved in disputes between owners/partners or with third parties, such as customers or other businesses. Sometimes small business owners are related through family connections or long term friendships. Unresolved disputes are costly and can result in major business losses. I can assist with the mediation process. I can work with business owners, accountants and advisors and I understand the importance of running businesses to their full potential. I taught small business negotiation and mediation for 10 years at the Law Society and I am familiar with the issues that business owners face. Using mediation to resolve disputes can save thousands of dollars in legal and court fees and can get your businesses running smoothly.
Hillcrest Law & Mediation
4203 Quebec Street
Vancouver, BC V5V 3L1