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Mediating around the world

|Written By André Schutten and Izabel Czuzoj-Shulman

Fresh off the cusp of our victory at the Canadian National Mediation Advocacy Competition in November 2008, we were anxious to compete again at the International Chamber of Commerce International Mediation Competition held in Paris in February 2009. 

CNMAC chairman Cliff Hendler, left, along with Chief Justice Warren K. Winkler and competition director Kileen Dagg Centurione, award teh Warren K. Winkler cup to winners Izabel Czuzoj-Shulman and André Schutten, centre, from the University of Ottawa law school.

When we arrived in Paris, we were instantly inspired by the breathtaking scenery; however we weren’t entirely sure what to expect from the competition as we had previously only competed against Canadian teams with Canadian mediators. We knew that there would be 40 teams from around the world and that their mediation styles would likely differ from what we had encountered at CNMAC.

On our first night there, we gathered for a cocktail organized by the competition. This gave us an opportunity to get to know the other competitors and to gain an understanding of how the competition would be structured. The teams came from all over the world, including places like Singapore, China, and eastern Europe.

Other than the fact that the mediators would be various professionals from around the world and that the competitors would not only be Canadian, the structure was quite similar to what we had experienced at CNMAC. During our 90-minute mediation, each team would be allowed to take one, five-minute caucus with the mediator and we were also entitled to request a three-minute break. We were excited to get started!

Throughout the competition we experienced a range of mediation styles. Some mediators were quite interventionist while others preferred to let the parties do most of the talking and only stepped in when necessary to facilitate the discussions.

To some extent, this wasn’t dissimilar from what we had experienced at CNMAC, however, the mediators who preferred an interventionist style tended to step in and make specific requests more than we were used to. In addition, many of the teams took a more aggressive approach than what we had encountered alongside our peace-loving Canadian teams back in November.

The opportunity in Paris was unique because it exposed us to different mediation and advocacy styles. We had to think on our toes and trust the skills we had begun to develop in our preparations for CNMAC. The experience we acquired through the CNMAC competition enabled us to feel confident in our skills no matter what the style of the mediator or the party opposite us.

While we did not win any awards in Paris, the experience we acquired there helped make us stronger as a team. As a result, we recently took home two more trophies from the International Law School Negotiation and Mediation Competition hosted by the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Ill., from March 18 to 21, 2009.

This competition, unlike the two earlier ones, had the students act as mediators in addition to playing advocate or client. We placed first in the mediator category and second in the lawyer/client advocacy category.

We could not have accomplished this feat without the valuable constructive feedback we received at CNMAC. Moreover, none of our accomplishments would have been possible without the coaching and guidance of our team coach, Professor John Manwaring.

In Paris, we were put together with Peter Quansah and Lisa Culbert, the other uOttawa mediation team that placed second at CNMAC. We competed in Paris together as one team. In Chicago, Peter was not able to join us, so there were just three of us on the team.

André Schutten and Izabel Czuzoj-Shulman are both law students at the University of Ottawa.