Many readers know (or know of) Canadian(-based) colleagues Michelle LeBaron and Julie Macfarlane. Michelle does incredibly creative work on conflict and culture. Julie has done a lot of empirical research, including studies on mediation, collaborative law, Sharia Law, and self-represented litigants. I especially like her article, Culture Change – A Tale of Two Cities and Mandatory Court-Connected Mediation, which categorizes attitudes of lawyer-advocates about mediation.
You may not know of several wonderful Canadian colleagues who I recently had the pleasure of meeting, mostly through Stone Soup. I want to introduce them to you in this post, which provides brief sketches and links to their bios, where you can learn more about them.
I first became aware of Michaela Keet (Saskatchewan) when we both were writing about collaborative law and I was very impressed with her analyses. She also shared another scholarly interest of mine, settlement counsel, and she and Heather Heavin (Saskatchewan) collaborated on an article on that subject. Most recently, they have published several articles on litigation risk analysis, a very important topic, especially considering how poorly lawyers and litigants generally analyze these risks. Heather’s research has focused primarily on international and domestic trade and business law. Michaela used Stone Soup in her Negotiation course last year.
Martha Simmons (Osgoode Hall) is the director of Osgoode’s Mediation Intensive Program and Mediation Clinic and the academic director of Osgoode’s Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution. She used Stone Soup in her Mediation course. Her primary areas of research and teaching are dispute resolution, legal education, innovation, and access to justice. She is vice-president of the Association of Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE), analogous to the Clinical Legal Education Association in the US.
Gemma Smyth (Windsor) is director of Windsor’s externship program and had been the academic director of its clinic. She used Stone Soup in her Access to Justice course. I gather that many Canadian law schools now focus on access to justice. Windsor has long emphasized access to justice and requires all students to take an Access to Justice course in their first year. Gemma’s scholarship focuses on clinic law, dispute resolution, lawyering skills, and legal education. She is president of ACCLE.
Martha and Gemma were presenters in the Stone Soup program at the recent ABA SDR conference. Michaela will join them in a Stone Soup program at the upcoming ACCLE conference, which is co-sponsored with the Canadian Association of Law Teachers, analogous to the Association of American Law Schools.
Michèle Leering is the executive director of Community Advocacy & Legal Centre in Ontario and a PhD candidate at Queen’s University Faculty of Law. Her dissertation research topic is “Legal Educators & Reflective Practice in Canada & Australia: Legal Education Reimagined.” She has published a number of excellent articles, including Enhancing the Legal Profession’s Capacity for Innovation: The Promise of Reflective Practice and Action Research for Increasing Access to Justice. When I read that article and then immediately called her, I felt that we were twins separated at birth because I have been intrigued by the potential of action research ever since I was an undergraduate. As Michèle wrote, action research is “a form of research that is used when there is a desire to improve practice and/or to create change with organizations or systems. … It is ideally suited for supporting innovation in the access to justice sector because it encourages reflection and action in a cyclical process that incrementally and iteratively begins to change the situation while it is being researched. Some forms of action research, such as participatory action research, pay special attention to incorporating the interests and perspectives of stakeholders concerned about the issue throughout the research, including the people it intends to benefit.” As I described in a recent post, Stone Soup has great potential for have students do action research, which would be a fabulous learning experience for everyone while making contributions to society, especially to people who need help the most.
I also recently met Kimberly Cork, a mediator with ADR Chambers in Toronto. Based on her experience in practice, especially with the insurance industry, she and Michaela gave a presentation at the ABA conference on litigation risk analysis.
All of these folks (as well as Canadian collaborative practitioners I have met) fit the image of Canadians as really nice, good-hearted, hard-working people.
Astute observers will note that all of these people are women. I am sure that there are good Canadian guys who do this kind of work. I have met some, but just not lately.