Author Archives: Hilary Linton

The Tenacious Mediator: Ten tips for “Moving the Mediation”

If there are three qualities that distinguish a good mediator from a great one, they are: Dangerous curiosity: great mediators are not afraid to follow their curiosity. This takes high level questioning skills to do effectively. In particular it requires gentle, non- judgmental, open-ended questions. Genuine curiosity is easy but it requires the mediator to completely set aside any preconceived …
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A Fondness for 311 Jarvis

I have a particular fondness for the court at 311 Jarvis St in Toronto. As a young family lawyer, it was where I felt most at home. The judges were kind and down-to-earth, completely committed to family law, compassionate and no-nonsense. They were gracious to those of us who didn’t always know what they were doing. Having come from a civil litigation …
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Participating in the Open Bar Lecture at 311 Jarvis

 I recently attended one of the great “Open Bar” lectures at 311 Jarvis St— the Ontario Court of Justice in downtown Toronto. It is remarkable that in the court, after hours, gather leaders of the Toronto family law bar, dispute resolution community and judiciary who are working with the most vulnerable of Toronto families at a difficult time in their lives. It …
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Speaking at the OBA Institute on Neuroscience and ADR on February 7 was no exception. 

Here is what I learned: Suzanne Sherkin of Highborn Communications taught me that our brains take short-cuts to the familiar, and that this can be limiting. For example, I did not know that the English language has ten times as many negative words as positive ones, and that the use of these words can send our brains to the familiar …
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The Promise of Family Mediation-Arbitration: Is it Real?

The crisis in access to family law justice has led to many great things happening outside of court. Collaborative practice, for example, has grown from disenchantment with the adversarial legal system’s assumption that positional bargaining necessarily protects the interest of parents and their children. Family mediation has become the go-to solution for both the public– seeking to avoid paying lawyers– …
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Voice of the Child in Mobility Cases: an Important Decision

In one of the most compelling decisions I have read in a long time, a British judge decided to disallow a 14-year-old’s proposal to move to another country with father, even though the son gave evidence that he very much wanted to move. It is a touching decision that almost made me cry, mostly because of the profoundly beautiful way …
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What is “Custody”? And Why Do Mediators Need to Know?

This week we are teaching our 30-hour course in Family Law for Family Mediators, Parenting Coordinators and Arbitrators. It is a comprehensive overview and is good training for anyone who wants to know more about family law. We start the course discussing what comes first; changes in law or changes in society? For example, there is a social and political …
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Can a Judge Order Parties to Go to Family Mediation?

This week we are teaching family law to a class of mediation students. It is only 30 hours, not nearly enough, but we try to use those hours to teach mediators the things they really need to know. One topic we touch on: Can people in family court be ordered to mediate? In Ontario, there is no such thing as …
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