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Legal professionals in Kamloops for Block Week

Sharon Sutherland, a mediator and conflict resolution trainer, in a mock mediation with law students.
Image Credit: Contributed
January 08, 2016 - 1:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Several dozen mediators, judges and lawyers from around B.C. and western Canada are participating in a series of Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law courses in dispute resolution this week. The volunteer instructors assemble either online or as teams in Kamloops to lend their expertise in one of three courses highlighting a different aspect of dispute resolution.

Known as Block Week, the mandatory week-long courses kick off the winter semester for the entire law student body. The unique format includes classroom and practical sessions and allows students to finish a course in just one week while receiving instruction from a wide network of legal professionals.

First-year students learn the basics of interviewing and counselling from Professor Emeritus Neil Gold, a retired Dean of Law at the University of Windsor, and Frank Borowicz, QC, a lawyer and arbitrator. Both men are from Vancouver.

Second-year students study and practice the role of lawyer in negotiation and mediation, coordinated by local mediator Danny Williams, including mock mediations held on Thursday at Centrepoint BC, the new conflict resolution facility in Kamloops.

Kamloops senior crown counsel and sessional law faculty member Tim Livingston leads the third-year course in trial advocacy and litigation (the processes associated with trials) based on an actual criminal case. Students will learn and practice trial advocacy in mock trials—including direct and cross-examination and opening and closing addresses—inside vacant courtrooms at the Kamloops Courthouse on Friday.

TRU Law Dean Brad Morse says there are many more accomplished lawyers and judges involved who generously volunteer their time. “Their participation speaks volumes about their commitment to enhancing the curriculum and the learning for TRU Law students.”

While the courses in the Block Week format have been offered every winter semester in the five-year history of TRU Law, the addition of off-campus experiential sessions for the courses on mediation and trial advocacy are new this year.

Dean Morse says dispute resolution is not offered at all law schools and believes the offering gives TRU students an edge.

“Possessing skills in dispute resolution is absolutely essential to be an effective lawyer,” said Morse. He also emphasized the connection of the course content to mock situations held in local legal facilities. “The practical nature of this course adds value and makes it more meaningful for students. It also highlights the strong relationship between TRU Law and the broader legal community.”

Sharon Sutherland, a mediator and conflict resolution trainer from Tsawwassen, BC, designed the curriculum for the negotiation and mediation course. The former UBC Law professor calls the course significant because it puts students on the front lines of learning how the practice of law is changing in terms of collaborative decision-making skills. And she emphasizes the benefit of exposure to the diverse range of practicing professionals.

“Students hear from experts about the use of collaborative skills in diverse areas of practice ranging from residential schools to personal injury to family arbitration or corporate cases,” explained Sutherland.

TRU Law students begin regularly scheduled winter semester classes on Monday, Jan. 11.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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