Family Unbundled Legal Services Project Update

The Mediate BC Family Unbundled Legal Services project will be winding up at the end of June. We are working to pass the baton on this exciting initiative to other interested stakeholders, primarily the Courthouse Library Society of BC, Access to Justice BC and the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch. These three, plus the Law Society of BC, the BC Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, the Law Foundation and others have provided significant leadership, input and support for unbundling over the past year and their continuing efforts will be critical to shepherd this initiative into the future. Thank you!

This is a good opportunity to provide a brief update about the status of the initiative.

First, we are very pleased to advise that on Saturday the CBABC Provincial Council approved the proposal to form a new provincial Unbundled Legal Services Section! We believe that this is the first such section / group in Canada and we are grateful for the CBABC in leading the way in this important initiative! While the section will begin with a focus on family unbundled legal services the intention is that it will service unbundled services in all practice areas. The toolkit materials were created, as much as possible, to be easily adaptable to other areas.

A special thanks to Zahra Jimale who spoke to the resolution on Saturday and who has also agreed to act as the first Chair of the section.

Work is underway to plan a 2017/18 meeting schedule, topics and speakers. Given the provincial nature of this section all meetings will be fully accessible using appropriate technology.

The Executive Officers for the section will be:

  1. Chair: Zahra Jimale
  2. Treasurer: Zahra Jenab
  3. Secretary: Laura Atkinson
  4. Members at large:
    • Robert Gunnarsson
    • Michael Butterfield
    • Polina Furtula
    • Sonali Sharma
    • Rizwana Choudry
    • Kari Boyle

This section is open to all CBABC members. This might be a good time to renew your membership! If you are not yet a CBABC member we will continue to work through the toolkit and otherwise to help you meet your needs for collegiality, peer support, sharing of materials etc. Your thoughts and ideas will be appreciated!

On June 20th, Carol Hickman QC, Jennifer Muller and Kari Boyle led a discussion about unbundling with the Supreme Court Judiciary in Vancouver (with video and telephone links to other locations). Given the increasing number of self-represented litigants in Supreme Court, participants were very interested in learning more about unbundling and provided many excellent comments and suggestions. A brochure explaining unbundling with a link to the Roster is in process.

The Provincial Court website already links to the Roster in numerous places. Chief Justice Bauman has been a strong supporter of unbundling and hosted a Law at Lunch seminar for Court of Appeal Justices in January.

One last note – the external evaluation of the Mediate BC Family Unbundled Legal Services Project will be completed by the end of this month and the evaluation report will be available in July. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to participate in surveys or interviews to support this evaluation.

Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions:  kari.boyle@shaw.ca.

Stay tuned for more information!

Kari D. Boyle
Kari D. Boyle

Kari D. Boyle is the BC Family Unbundling Roster Project Manager. She is also the Coordinator of the BC Family Justice Innovation Lab, a Knowledge Engineer with the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal, Board member of the Courthouse Library Society of BC and member of Access to Justice BC. Kari served as Mediate BC’s Executive Director and then Director of Strategic Initiatives for ten years. She enjoys using her legal, mediation and leadership experience to collaborate with others to improve BC citizens’ access to justice.

Workplace Investigations: Avoid Them Through Better Planning and Processes

Investigations into workplace bullying and harassment can be expensive not only in the outlay and diversion of resources, but also in their overall effect on workplace culture, trust, retention, absenteeism and “presenteeism”, etc. In fact, as Gray and Marshall report, “Investigations are a significant investment, so be honest up front: if resources are not available, the HR group risks over-reaching, and the damage of a botched investigation can be greater than the original complaint.”[1]

Despite all of the information, training and regulations about bullying and harassment available to organizations, are investigations still happening so frequently?

Several HR professionals that we have worked with have told us that when unhappy employees have no other resources or processes to follow, and don’t feel comfortable speaking up, they will file a bullying or harassment complaint because their employer can’t ignore it. While there are very legitimate bullying and harassment issues that require appropriate attention, we also know that many of these complaints can relate more to general workplace conflict, can be managed in a more productive manner, and even prevented.

Conflict in any environment is inevitable, and in the workplace, where we spend a huge amount of time interacting with co-workers, managers, clients, etc., it can be both frequent and especially destructive.  By putting a workplace conflict management program in place, employers can prevent the worst effects of conflict and manage what does arise effectively.

Consider the difference:

An employee in a company that has no explicit system in place, and perhaps a culture where conflict is avoided, will generally either leave or work in a less than effective manner. If they stay and decide to take action, and if their problem with others can even remotely be framed as bullying and harassment, they will often follow the path available to them under the relevant WorkSafeBC regulations. Since the investigative process is rarely pleasant for anyone involved, this is likely to lead to an expensive and unhappy outcome all around. The overall approach is defensive and reactive.

 

An employee in a company with a conflict management program in place, first of all, likely has received training in conflict management skills and works for a manager who is trained in the conflict management skills important in leadership. The workplace culture allows for people to speak up about problems without retribution. If the manager is unable to help resolve the problem, then the manager or the HR team is trained to assess, or has access to someone who can assess the situation and steer it to the most effective resources and/or process. The overall approach is open and proactive.

There are skilled investigators available who can approach this process in the healthiest manner possible, and can help everyone achieve the best possible outcome. However, what is healthier for the workplace overall, and therefore for the business itself, is a well-planned, communicated and established program where investigation is only one of many possible tools, and is only used when appropriate.

Conflict is expensive. We can help.

Contact us at 604-684-1300 x200 (or toll-free 1-877-656-1300 x200) to find out how we can design and operate or support a workplace conflict management program for your organization.

[1] Gray, H. and Marshall, G. Investigation is the New Arbitration. PeopleTalk, Spring 2017.

Conflict is expensive. We can help. Visit us at HRMA Conference & Tradeshow 2017

Volunteers Make a Big Impact
(and We’re Thankful!)

Mediate BC is blessed to have a great many skilled and talented people who volunteer their time. By participating in our public events, writing for our blog, contributing to social media and even making videos, these amazing people have helped educate the public about their conflict resolution options and imparted useful skills in all sorts of contexts.

It is National Volunteer Week (April 23-29, 2017) in Canada., so Mediate BC wanted to take a moment to publicly recognize and thank our volunteers for their contribution and commitment.

Impact

At Mediate BC we lead, promote and facilitate effective conflict resolution. Our volunteers help us live this mission by:

  • Engaging over 2,100 people at events across the province
  • Helping us make 400,000 social media impressions
  • Contributing to over 20 blog posts
  • Developing & contributing to 7 Mediate BC CPD events
  • Developing new Standards of Conduct for Med-Arb
  • Providing feedback on our Complaints Process
  • And so much more!

Our volunteers are truly making an impact and Mediate BC is a stronger organization thanks to our volunteers. We appreciate your generosity and support.

Mediate BC also recognizes the countless volunteer hours that go into some of the joint events we’ve had with the following organizations this year: BCAMI, Conciliation and Arbitration Board of Canada, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, CoRe Conflict Resolution Society, Justice Education Society, Justice Institute of British Columbia, People’s Law School, and the Virtual Mediation Lab.

Our Volunteers

Thank you to our 2015/2016 Roster Mediator volunteers!

Rebecca Alleyne
Peter Altridge
Lisa Arora
Nancy Baker
Grace Baker
Kat Bellamano
Linda Bonnell
Joseph Boskovich
Kari Boyle
Joan Braun
Colleen Cattell, QC
Maria Constantinescu
Nicholette D’Angelo
Tara Day
Jerome Dickey
Jory Faibish
Katherine Fraser
Kaitlin Fulton
Carrie Gallant
Leanne Harder
Chris Harris
Brandon Hastings
Arlene H. Henry, QC
Carol Hickman, QC
Brenda Hooper
Darrin Hotte
Kyra Hudson
Paul Jacks
Aurora Johannson
Sharon Kelly
Vivian Kerenyi
Edwin Knight
Tara Kowalski
Wendy Lakusta
Michael Lomax
Gavin Mather
Yuki Matsuno
Elaine McCormack
Shelina Neallani
Leslie Palleson
Wayne Plenert
Donna Rintoul
Amy Robertson
Shelina Sayani
Colleen Selby
Amanda Semenoff
Maria Silva
Gordon Sloan
Norm Smookler
Donna Soules
Sharon Sutherland
Paul Taberner
Lori Williams

We would also like to recognize our Board of Directors and members of our Roster Committee, all of whom serve on a volunteer basis. Their guidance and oversight is invaluable to Mediate BC. These are time-consuming and intense volunteer roles that provide an enormous benefit to all of us in the mediation community. Thank you to all the current and former Directors and Roster Committee members who served Mediate BC over the past year:

Board of Directors
Brian Gibbard, Chair
Lori Charvat, Vice-Chair
Bill Keen, Treasurer
Richard Stewart, QC, Secretary
Judge Andrea Brownstone
Julie Daum
Gayle Bedard (former)
Jane Morley, QC (former)
Wayne Plenert (former)
Paul Taberner (former)
Roster Committee
Carol Hickman, QC, Chair
Richard Stewart, QC, Vice-Chair
Leanne Harder
Arlene H.Henry, QC
Angela Stadel
Jim Vilvang, QC
Dan Williams
Nick de Domenico (former)
Wayne Plenert (former)

Thank you all!