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Grievance Arbitration Advocacy Workshop

Advocacy at Grievance Arbitration

Pre-Conference Workshop

Advocacy at Grievance Arbitration: A winning guide to preparing and presenting cases

May 23, 2018
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

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$470 Canadian + tax

Workshop Leaders

Michelle Miller-Kotula

Christopher Albertyn

Anita Christine Knowlton
Arbitrator/Mediator (retired); Clinical Professor of Law & Founding Director of the Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution University of California, Hastings College of the Law (retired)

Elizabeth MacPherson

John Moreau

Allen Ponak

Lindsay Lyster
Union Counsel
Moore Edgar Lyster
Delayne Sartison
Employer Counsel
Roper Greyell
Susan Stewart

Barry Winograd

Workshop Summary

Presented by Lancaster House and the National Academy of Arbitrators (NAA). Workshop is open to NAA members and the general public. Please visit NAAmeetings.org for more information on the NAA 2018 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

This workshop will provide participants with the knowledge and skillset required to effectively conduct a grievance arbitration case or to give maximum assistance to counsel/advocates who are doing so.

Seasoned NAA arbitrators and top union and employer counsel will lead participants in an interactive discussion exploring best practices and winning strategies relating to grievance arbitration advocacy. Participants will also have the opportunity to hone their advocacy skills by working through simulation exercises in small groups, while receiving invaluable guidance and feedback from workshop leaders.

Participants will practice the following skills:

  • Identifying the key issues, strengths and weaknesses of a case
  • Making persuasive opening and closing statements
  • Preparing, examining and cross-examining witnesses
  • Effectively gathering and presenting evidence and caselaw

In the final session of the day, participants will hear from leading NAA arbitrators on factors that tip the balance in close cases, avoiding critical mistakes, and myths about grievance arbitration.

Please Note: Workshop participants will receive a complimentary copy of Lancaster's Winning Cases at Grievance Arbitration, by Jeffrey Sack, Q.C.

Winning Cases book cover


(This is a draft and is subject to change.)

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.


9:00 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.

 INTRODUCTION  Welcome and Review of Agenda

9:20 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

 PART 1  Crafting an Effective Advocacy Strategy

  • Developing a theory of your case
  • Identifying the key issues, strengths and weaknesses of a case
  • Understanding the scope of the grievance and the issues in dispute
  • Adapting a case theory to account for new evidence or issues as they arise
  • Tips and strategies for making the arbitration process more cost and time efficient

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

 PART 2  The Opening Statement

  • The essential elements for a persuasive opening statement
  • Articulating your theory of the case and connecting the potential evidence to your theory

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

 MOCK ARBITRATION  Crafting a Strong Case and Opening Statement

  • Working in small groups on a realistic scenario, participants will develop points to be made in an opening statement and receive feedback from workshop leaders.

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

 PART 2 CONT'D  Expert Demonstration and Discussion

  • Workshop leaders will present opening statements to the group, and then facilitate group discussion.

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 PART 3  Gathering and Presenting Evidence

  • Gathering evidence from your potential witnesses
  • Requesting a production order
  • Choosing between in-person testimonial evidence and documentary evidence
  • Considering the use of hearsay evidence
  • Determining how, and when, to use expert evidence
  • How, and when, to object to evidence

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

 PART 4  Preparing and Examining Witnesses

  • Best practices for preparing witnesses and witness statements
  • Review of factors relied on by arbitrators when assessing the credibility and reliability of a witness
  • How to successfully examine and cross-examine a witness

1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

 MOCK ARBITRATION  Cross-Examining Witnesses

  • Working in small groups, participants will prepare questions for a cross-examination of a witness and receive feedback from workshop leaders.

2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

 PART 4 CONT'D  Expert Demonstration and Discussion

  • Workshop leaders will demonstrate effective cross-examination techniques and common mistakes to avoid. Leaders will then facilitate a group discussion about cross-examination.

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


3:00 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

 PART 5  Closing Arguments, Use of Caselaw, and Remedies

  • Crafting an effective closing argument
  • How does a closing argument differ from an opening statement?
  • Summarizing the evidence in an effective and logical manner
  • Connecting the evidence to your theory of the case
  • Responding to the other side’s evidence and arguments
  • Connecting the caselaw to your theory of the case
  • Researching caselaw in advance of arbitration
  • Effective strategies for citing caselaw and legislation at arbitration
  • Determining which remedies to seek

3:35 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.

 PART 6  Key Questions for Advocates

Lawyers will provide expert tips on arbitration advocacy and answer questions from participants, including:

  • How do you decide to go/not go to arbitration in any given case? Who calls the shots?
  • How do you tell your principal or the grievor that the case is likely a loser and that the grievance should be withdrawn or settled?
  • What are the most difficult types of cases to take to arbitration?
  • What is the process of choosing an arbitrator? What should you look for in selecting one?

3:50 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

 PART 7  Myth Busting by Premier NAA Arbitrators

Leading arbitrators will provide guidance on the following:

  • Myths about grievances and arbitrations
  • Avoiding critical mistakes
  • Factors that tip the balance in close cases

4:50 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 CONCLUSION  Wrap-Up and Evaluation


CPHR Continuing Professional Development

The Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon (CPHR) has accredited this workshop for recertification credits.

Lancaster House CPD

Click here to find out more information regarding CPD and the hour requirements in your province.